Football rumours: Rio Ferdinand to be Manchester United sporting director?

Paul Doyle on 30 April 2019

A widely held view, supported by a Schwarzenegger-like body of evidence, is that Ed Woodward has not shown much canniness when it comes to Manchester United’s transfer dealing. Too emotional or kneejerk in his decisions, people say. So he should hire someone else to oversee transfers, people also say. The problem with that line of thinking is that if Woodward isn’t cool-headed when it comes to signing players, why would he be cool-headed when signing someone to sign players? Like, if the criticism is fair, then wouldn’t he end up appointing, say, Rio Ferdinand as director of football because he liked him as a player and thinks he talks a good game on Twitter? Well that would be – hold on, what’s this? According to the Daily Mail, Woodward has met with Rio Ferdinand to discuss the former defender taking up the position of director of football at Manchester United! At least one pundit is understood to be certain such a development won’t end in yet more farce.

United may or may not be in the process of making up their mind about who makes up their mind about transfers, but many is the organ that claims to already know who they’re going to be signing this summer. Apparently the club will break its record to prise the goalkeeper Jan Oblak from Atlético Madrid. That suggests that David de Gea is set to be liberated from his Old Trafford nightmare and, sure enough, PSG are said to be preparing a humungous offer for the keeper, including a potential flat-share with Ander Herrera. PSG may be able to get the transfer fee down by throwing in Edinson Cavani, who is set to leave Paris this summer and has many admirers at Old Trafford. Chelsea will try to muscle in on that action if they get their transfer ban rescinded.

Chelsea will also pursue Nice’s right-back Youcef Atal if they are allowed to. And if they’re not, then some other Premier League club who need a right-back may make a move for him. Mind you, Dani Alves may also be available, as he has reportedly grown disenchanted at PSG following last weekend’s defeat in the French League Cup, which came on top of this season’s European embarrassment at the hands of some rinkydink
rope-a-dopers. Over to you, Mr Woodward/Ferdinand.

United will need more than one new defender, of course, especially if Wolves persuade them to sell Victor Lindelof, as requested by Nuno Espirito Santo. Lyon, meanwhile, are interested in signing Eric Bailly despite the defender’s current injury. PSG are vying with Real Madrid for the midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who doesn’t want to leave Juventus but may have little choice if one of his suitors offers over £100m.

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Meanwhile, one former United player who hasn’t yet been offered an office job by Woodward is Memphis Depay. But Jürgen Klopp might give him a gig. Sources in France claim Liverpool have been keeping an eye on the Dutchman at Lyon and like the playing style of the “young king livin’ lavish”, as the man himself rapped. Word is Liverpool are mulling over making an over for either Memphis or Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, a young king livin’ off burgers and chips until a few years ago, as the man himself admitted. Liverpool are also poised to offer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a new contract to celebrate his recovery from serious injury.

There is no such jollity around Arsenal, where several players are said to have been confused by Unai Emery’s tactical moves during the club’s three-match losing streak. It is true that some players looked like they didn’t have a clue what they were supposed to be doing, but seasoned Arsenal watchers will know that is not necessarily Emery’s fault. Maybe the manager could hold clear-the-air talks. Then again, judging by his press conferences, maybe not.

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