Pitchside

Cheap at £50m? Why Manchester United must go all-out to sign Vidal

Pitchside

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Arturo Vidal

New manager Louis Van Gaal must be pretty busy masterminding the Netherlands' run to the latter stages of the World Cup in Brazil, but he's still found time to make sure Manchester United are active in the transfer market ahead of the new season; they've already spent £60 million on Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera and England left-back Luke Shaw.

But you get the feeling this is just the beginning of United’s mega summer spend as they look to catapult themselves back into contention at the top of the table. And our friends at Squawka.com propose that a big chunk of their remaining war chest should go on buying Arturo Vidal, the Juventus midfielder who has been heavily linked to Old Trafford ever since last season ended.

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Vidal was hugely impressive in a hugely impressive Chile team at the World Cup. The Chileans, who finished above holders Spain in their group and were a couple of inches away from knocking out hosts Brazil, have seen several of their top stars being mooted for big-money transfers after their exploits in the competition. Arsenal are hoping to complete a £32 million swoop for Alexis Sanchez this week, for example, whilst goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has recently moved to Barcelona.

But Vidal has proven himself as one of the best midfielders in the world over the last couple of years, not just at this summer’s tournament. He has even impressed at the World Cup despite carrying an injury throughout.

The box-to-box midfielder was a key figure as Juventus claimed their third consecutive Serie A title last season but many see this summer as the perfect moment for Vidal to make a move across Europe. At 27-years-old, United would be getting a midfielder in the prime of his career; and they should go all out to sign Vidal - no matter what he costs.

First of all, United are in desperate need of some energy in their midfield. They have looked flat in the centre of the park for some years now and David Moyes’ £27.5million purchase of Marouane Fellaini arguably slowed down their play even further, rather than sped it up. Vidal is a livewire and has stamina in abundance, a partnership of him and Herrera would sort out United’s issues in this area of the pitch.

At full fitness, Vidal covers so much ground over the course of a game that he is capable of doing plenty of defensive work for the team as well as being a key attacking threat. This fact is demonstrated by the 222 tackles he attempted for Juventus last season. Vidal’s energetic style of play is more than suited to the Premier League; he has arguably not been able to reach his peak in Italy due to Juventus’ sheer dominance. The Chilean would be able to drive United forward, much like Yaya Toure does at Manchester City; only Vidal is four years younger.

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Last season's stats show that Vidal’s all-round game is on a different level to United’s other central midfielders, namely Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher. He averages more successful tackles, more shots on goal, creates more chances per game and scores more goals per game than any of the four players mentioned above.

In other words, he is a more positive midfielder who takes the game to the opposition like Roy Keane used to. United have missed a major presence in the centre of the park massively in recent years. Although Carrick is a much more accomplished passer of the ball than Vidal, the way the Chilean is able to speed up the game would be invaluable to United.

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In the Premier League last season, Fellaini, Carrick, Cleverley and Fletcher managed just two goals between them. United have been reliant on their world class strike-force to score enough goals to keep them near the top of the league for a few years now and it finally caught up with them as they dawdled to a seventh place finish last season.

That's a problem that Vidal can help solve: as well as being able to cover a ridiculous amount of turf every game, the Chilean is a proven midfield goal-scorer, having bagged 21 league goals in the last two seasons. No United central midfielder has reached double figures in league goals since Paul Scholes scored 14 in 2002-03. That would change if they were able to sign Vidal.

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It has been rumoured that Vidal will cost United at least £50 million but it is thought that the Old Trafford club would be willing to use Portuguese winger Nani as a makeweight in any deal. It may seem like an obvious statement to make given the turmoil United were in last season but they have to go all out to sign Vidal, whatever the cost, because opportunities to sign one of the best central midfielders in the world don’t come along very often.

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