"Given the availability of Owen and Anelka for less than £10m – Quagliarella would be a gamble"
Fabio Quagliarella sounds like a regional Italian dish - and in these image obsessed times he has probably already been described as such with no hint of irony. The rumours of a £10m-£14m-£20m switch to Manchester United are interesting in as much as they sound totally fabricated on all but the oddest levels.
A little background is needed here; Quagliarella has spent most of the last few seasons in the lower Italian leagues, but last season got a proper shot at Serie A and scored 13 goals in 35 games for Sampdoria. He is owned by both Udinese and Sampdoria (go figure) and both would need to be happy with any transfer. He has been capped three times by Italy and recently scored twice against Lithuania.
Sampdoria do seem interested in £10m for the 23 year old, as their Sports Director Beppe Marotta was quoted yesterday as saying:
“I can now confirm the offer from Manchester United, but it only represents one of several possibilities. We will have to do our accounts with Udinese, the joint owner of his contract, and consider the will of the player ahead of such important offers.”
Whereas his Udinese counterpart, Pietro Leonardi, was simultaneously saying that no club "not Italian, nor foreign" had asked Udinese about Fabio Quagliarella's situation.
So rumours of a move for the player have been half ratified, but are very similar to the same rumours that connected Arsenal with the striker 10 days ago. Then it was widely reported that Quagliarella was to replace Henry at Ashburton Grove - rumours that proved to be without substance.
After signing three players United have made some contradictory noises about whether there is any more money available. With David Gill saying the bulk of business is done, but that there is always money available for a player who will improve the team. Chief Exec speak for 'if the new Zidane's available for a fiver we're interested'.
Given the availability of Owen and Anelka for less than £10m – Quagliarella would be a gamble.
However there have also been some rumours suggesting that the Anderson transfer is not the done deal that was originally reported. If the Anderson deal falls through there is money for another player that needs to be developed like Quagliarella - but he still seems to be some risk at that price for a United team that has limited transfer funds.
As a side note the £50m in transfer deals was superbly timed by the United suits who also contrived to have season ticket renewals land on fans doorsteps on almost the same day – with barely a fortnight allowed for renewal. As the majority of United Season Ticket holders face paying over £1000 to cover the ‘new definition of a season’ the timing was a triumph of serendipity!
But as United increasingly play with one main striker and three attacking midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation is there even room for a new striker?
Whilst Quagliarella was bagging 13 for mid-table Sampdoria, Guiseppe Rossi stuck in 9 Serie A goals in half the time for relegation threatened Parma - on the face of it £10m for Quagliarella does not look like a bargain now that Rossi is starting to come good. There is also Alan Smith available as a striker, with Louis Saha set to return from injury ahead of next season. Solskjaer is past his best but is good for a dozen games; and Giggs and Ronaldo may well be pressed into service up front. And this is all behind Wayne Rooney who would be the man in possession.
I can see only three scenarios where this transfer stacks up:
1. United look to offload Smith and Rossi to cover the cost.
2. The Anderson deal falls through
3. Quagliarella is available for less than £5m rather than £10m-£20m
But otherwise as United are likely to play with just one striker most of the time and with Rooney, Saha, Smith and Rossi available for that place there seems to be no room for Quagliarella. If United really need a new striker then surely a known risk like Anelka or Owen would be better value in any event.