Manchester United are on the verge of agreeing to a $27 million deal for Sporting defender Marcos Rojo, with winger Nani going back to his old club in a subsidized loan deal. Rojo finally looks set to make the move to Old Trafford after complicated talks involving the two clubs and third-party rights owner Doyen Sports, plus an apology from the Argentine for going on strike last week.
Sporting rejected the initial $27 million figure due to the fact they were legally obliged to pay 20% of any sum over $7 million to the player’s former clubs, Spartak Moscow, with a hefty 75% going to Doyen. However, United sweetened the offer by agreeing to pay the vast majority of Nani’s wages during the season-long loan.
The deal looks like it will suit Sporting more than United initially, but the latter could sell the player for a lot more if he continues to progress the way he has. Furthermore, United manager Louis van Gaal has also made it clear that Nani’s future does not lie at Old Trafford, so reducing the wage bill, however slight, will please the club’s board.
Rojo recently made the headlines for the wrong reasons when he skipped training in order to force through a move to United, but he subsequently apologized for his actions on Sporting’s own TV channel. “It was all a misunderstanding,” he said. “I was a hothead.” United are in a rush to shore up their defense after it was brutally exposed by Swansea City in the 2-1 opening day defeat to the Welsh side. Van Gaal said after the game he needed “better players” and highlighted the defense as his biggest priority. With a deal for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels looking more unlikely by the day, United know, in Rojo, they have a player who has admitted he wants to move to Old Trafford. It is just a case of all parties involved being happy with the deal on the table.
If Rojo signs before the weekend, he will almost certainly be thrown into action when United meet Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Having tasted defeat in his first competitive home game for United, van Gaal will be desperate to start winning points, particularly as Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City all claimed victories in their opening games. Title favorites Chelsea meet newly-promoted Burnley tonight in what is expected to be a straightforward win for José Mourinho’s side.
Although United lost to what is largely regarded as a mediocre Swansea side, they do have a much easier start to this campaign than last – on paper, anyway. Van Gaal will be expecting his troops to start getting as many points as possible while avoiding the big teams, and while the others concentrate on the Champions League.
Van Gaal’s immediate project is to tighten up a creaky defense, and with a $27 million deal for Argentine Rojo close to completion, it could give the squad, the Old Trafford faithful, just the boost they need so early in the new season.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd