Though Van Persie is a brilliant player, Sir Alex Ferguson's latest acquisition is a grave misallocation of United's funds and brings the Red Devils no closer to their 20th league title.
In combining Van Persie with current talisman Wayne Rooney, Ferguson has created the most-feared striking duo on the planet — and it didn't come cheap. A well-practiced negotiator, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger squeezed £24million (about $38 million) out of United in exchange for an injury-prone, 29-year old striker coming off of a career year. On top of this, United is reported to have given Van Persie a massive contract worth £200,000 (about $315,000) a week. With the Glazer family's debt hanging around United's financial neck, Ferguson has devoted a substantial chunk of his budget to what amounts to a high-risk luxury signing.
United's failure to end 2011-12 with a trophy had nothing to do with its attacking options. Ferguson combined the ever-present Rooney with the highly-promising Danny Welbeck, Mexican poacher Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and forgotten 2010-11 Premier League scoring champion Dimitar Berbatov. This doesn't even include United's embarrassment of riches in attacking midfield with newcomer Shinji Kagawa joining the likes of Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young.
Van Persie will provide an immediate boost to Rooney's supporting cast, but the true problem areas for United — the ones which caused the group-stage exit from the UEFA Champions League and allowed City to overtake it down the stretch of the Premier League — lie at left back and central midfield.
Left back Patrice Evra's aging legs have betrayed his attacking disposition and consistently stretch the Red Devils' back line to the breaking point. This summer provided the opportunity to bring in another challenger to Evra, but so far has only seen his deputy, Fabio, sent out on loan. Four years Evra's junior, Everton's Leighton Baines has been superb for the Toffees over the past several seasons. The Englishman would provide both cover and competition to the French incumbent, while also providing top-level ability to deliver set pieces.
Compounding the issues at the back is Ferguson's refusal to complement his array of creative midfielders with a true holding player. Darren Fletcher can't be counted upon due to his ongoing intestinal issue and the man tasked with the job last year, Michael Carrick, may start this season at center back due to an injury crisis.
For external options, it seems a certainty that Stade Rennes' Yann M'Vila will be playing in England this season. Why shouldn't it be at United? A prototypical holding midfielder, the French international's intelligent positioning, high motor and expansive passing game would perfectly fill out United's midfield.
While United fans can — and should — be excited at Van Persie's arrival, they should also be forewarned. Wenger has made a career of selling aging stars at the right moment, and his store doesn't offer any refunds. If Ferguson's summer spending is complete, United will enter the season with the same problems that undermined its last one, rendering Van Persie's acquisition totally irrelevant in the chase for the title.
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