Having all but sealed the £17m signature of Blackburn’s Phil Jones, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to move quickly to snap up highly regarded Swiss youngster Xherdan shaqiri.
The Basel playmaker was instrumental in his side’s Championship-retaining season and Sir Alex is convinced a £10m offer would suffice.
Shaqiri’s direct approach and his excellent ball control has seen him rise to the status of superstar in Switzerland. He has even been dubbed ‘The Swiss Messi’ (inevitably) but to be fair, both approach the game with a comparable attitude, favouring taking players on at great speed and slick passing. Though undoubtedly Shaqiri is not at that level yet, he possesses a similar level of potential as his Argentinian counterpart did at his age.
The mood music coming from the Basel camp is not good. They are aware of the nature of Shaqiri’s talent and are of course aware of the countless scouts who’ve been sent from all over Europe to watch their games this year. Sir Alex has sent many a scout in this kid’s direction over the past 12 months and all reports are positive.
And after initially catching the attention of English managers by scoring an absolute screamer in Switzerland’s home game against England, Shaqiri has really begun to blossom as a player. He is nowhere near the finished article but he knows this, and is only too aware of the benefits of joining a club like Manchester United and a manager like Ferguson.
As with some transfer windows, Ferguson seems keen to do his business early this year, no doubt wanting to assemble a new-look United to mount another challenge at the Champions League and to stand firm to the new threat of Manchester City.
Manchester United’s midfield is lacking a spark having lost Paul Scholes to injury. Not quite of the mould of the old master, Shaqiri can fulfil a similar role. A player who always creates time and space for himself, who can pick a pass when required and shoot when given the slightest sniff, at £10m, Sir Alex could do a lot worse.
If the Glaswegian opts to clear out the deadwood in the Manchester United midfield, which could see Anderson, Carrick, Hargreaves and Gibson leave Old Trafford, a player like Shaqiri who would initially add a huge impetus from the bench before hopefully turning into a mainstay of the team, would be an ideal fit for a midfield in need of a shake-up.
Being 17, Shaqiri is just about the right age for the nurturing nature of Sir Alex. Sources suggest a bid is imminent, and this would make sense as interest such as that from Barcelona and AC Milan swarms around the prized youngster.