If we weren’t taking the Chinese Super League seriously already, Thursday afternoon may have supplied a moment of realisation. We all knew the Asian nation’s biggest teams had money to splash, but a £100m deal for Wayne Rooney from Shanghai Shenhua (£27m in transfer fee and the rest in wages over three years), is staggering, and more importantly Manchester United are ready to accept.
This could happen then. But, there are a few factors that come into play, with reports claiming that the Manchester juggernauts will need to replace their 30-year-old both on the pitch and in terms of his global appeal to appease their swelling list of sponsors. Although the former can be easily achieved (sorry, Wayne) the latter is tricky, with only an elite band of players possessing the profile and reputation to fill the potential void.
Alas, there are a few options out there for a club with massive amounts of disposable income, and here are FIVE…
Man United may as well aim big, and reports claim that they are willing to go pretty much as big as it gets with a move for Neymar. The Brazilian would command a world record smashing fee of close to £150m and could expect to pocket a salary of a nauseating £1m-per-week, but the Red Devils are one of the most commercially powerful teams on the planet, so the cash isn’t as much of an issue as it may seem on the surface.
However, the big problem may be luring Neymar from Barcelona, where he’s part of the, arguably, best forward line in club football alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Yet, this could actually be beneficial, with United able to offer the Brazilian his own platform, which may allow him to move out from the shadow of his Argentine team-mate and show his true worth.
In terms of global appeal, there aren’t many players bigger than Neymar right now!
Aubameyang may lack the ‘brand value’ Rooney, and other superstars, guarantee, but in terms of on-field contribution, the Gabon international has been on another level this season, netting 20 league goals for Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Although other elite forwards have out-scored ‘Auba’, the 26-year-old’s pace and direct playing style seem to be the perfect antidote for United’s current dull brad of football, with his unpredictable nature, potentially, enough to snap some players out of the rut they’re in.
Aubameyang is currently the African Football of the Year and is poised to enter his peak years. He won’t be cheap though, with a £60m fee mooted.
Despite having been ‘unsettled’ for much of the past two-and-a-half seasons, Cavani remains at Paris Saint-Germain, where he’s very much second in line to the character that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Uruguayan developed a reputation as one of the most deadly finishers on the planet in a prolific spell in Italy with Palermo and Napoli, and even though he’s continued to fire the goals in Ligue 1, the 29-year-old’s stock has dropped somewhat.
He may not be a long-term option, but Cavani would be a signal of intent from United, and offers more movement and pace than Rooney.
A dream signing for the Old Trafford faithful. We all know that Ronaldo made his name in Manchester, where he was idolised by the fans as he transformed from a flashy and inconsistent winger into, arguably, the best all-round attacker on the planet.
At 31, CR7’s best years are behind him, but he is still one of the most recognisable footballers on the planet, which would surely go some way to appeasing United’s sponsors should Rooney be shipped off to China. Not the perfect replacement in terms of age and playing position, but having Ronaldo back would be beneficial on and off the pitch.
Arguably the most dangerous centre-forward on the planet, Lewandowski is a goal machine. Since the start of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season, the Poland international has smashed a whopping 104 goals for both Dortmund and current side Bayern Munich and has also been prolific in the Champions League and for his country.
Supplying him with chances at Old Trafford and convincing him to leave the Allianz Arena are big hurdles, but nothing that United’s cash reserves couldn’t smooth over.