It was made official yesterday that Angel di Maria became a devil by signing for Manchester United for €75m and thus becoming Britain’s most expensive signing. In a transfer saga that for all the world looked as if the Argentine would end up playing in Parisien blue, he will now play his football on the red side of Manchester.
It is a case of ‘what if?’ had terms been agreed with Real Madrid. The failure to offload one of the higher earners within the squad in order to make room for the player due to the FFP restrictions more or less derailed any proposed deal. The talk of a season-long loan before paying a substantial fee next summer was mooted and that was a strong possibility. But, in the end the negotiations became too complex and in my opinion it was the right thing to do to pull out. What is our loss is certainly a gain to United. However as I have said many times, di Maria was never what we needed in the first place. Another creative wide player is a position we are in swimming in. One part of the pitch we are not is up front. Plain and simple, Les Parisiens needs another striker.
People will say ‘are you mad?’ ‘You have Zlatan, you have Cavani, why do you need another striker?’ Well, it was evident again for me last Friday during the 0-0 draw with Evian that when we have trouble unhinging a defence, we never have the resource on the bench to bring on someone who is potent in front of goal. Basically, we just have two strikers. One is a phenomenon in Ibra. When he is missing, we are not the same. That is blatantly obvious. Cavani is still finding his feet despite netting that first goal of the season at home to Bastia. I still believe he will come good, he showed in his early days at the club his quality despite playing out of position. However, playing as the main man up top last weekend, he was isolated. The reliance on the men out wide came to nothing as such and although he did have his chances, he failed to capitalise.
Yohan Cabaye being sent-off midway through the second-half altered the thinking of Laurent Blanc who would rather leave with a point instead of going for all three which would have been a risk. Had YC stayed on the pitch though, would we have taken the spoils? Judging on the pattern of the play up to that point I would question it. Especially as we lacked that potency on the bench I was talking about.
Jean-Christophe Bahebeck has apparently been offered a new contract at the club which really is fantastic news. It emphasises the turnaround in fortune for him after a terrific pre-season. Blanc entrusts him as one of the key men to support Ibra/Cavani from out wide. He has been in the goals and could quite possibly play as a central striker. But would Blanc utilise him that way? Probably not. Will he get you 10-15 goals though? It is possible depending on playing time but my point is if we had someone who is proven goal scorer to share the burden with Ibra and Cavani, it would make Laurent Blanc’s life so much easier.
Last Friday was a prime example of needing something different. We were predictable, laboured and to be honest Evian dealt with our play in the final third with ease at times (this being a side that conceded nine goals in the first two games).Just imagine if Blanc had someone for instance such as Samuel Eto’o waiting in the wings. This is one of the modern greats in his position and has just signed a two-year contract at Everton Football Club as a free agent. A renowned goal-scorer, fox in the box, the ability to be in the right place at the right time to sniff out a chance. This is the type of player we need within the squad. It would be fantastic to have the presence of a player who can change the game in an instant instead of bringing on the same old flair player(s) to play out wide that rarely makes an impact. It makes perfect sense to invest in someone like that. PSG never replaced Kevin Gameiro when he went to Sevilla, believing just Zlatan and Cavani was enough. As I said, to have the calibre of those two players is incredible for a club like ours. But let someone else share the burden.
No one in the French press has really picked up on it either. Is two strikers enough at a club competing in four different competitions? I wouldn’t say so. I believe it would be highly beneficial for Nasser Al-Khelaifi – maybe not now – but perhaps during the January transfer window explores that possibility. We are not talking about spending a ludicrous amount of money on a world renowned striker. More along the lines of being shrewd. Try and identify a smart piece of business which could be a masterstroke come the latter part of the season.
Give us that fox in the box Nasser!