Manchester United have been given a boost in their long-winded pursuit of Arturo Vidal after the Juventus player was dropped following a 5am party session. The 27-year-old Chile World Cup star was close to joining the club in the summer transfer window but the Italian giants priced the Old Trafford club out of the move.
Vidal is said to be keen on a move to Old Trafford and he fanned the flames when he was caught signing fans’ Manchester United shirts during Juve’s summer tour of Australia. Although the club pursued the player, Juventus made it clear they wanted to hold onto their man. However, his late partying combined with turning up late for training the following morning saw Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri drop Vidal from his squad, even with a vital clash with Roma coming up. Serie A champions Juve got the better of Roma, even if the victory was a controversial one.
Vidal is expected to be fined for his actions but whether or not it will mean an automatic return to the first team is not clear at this stage. United boss Louis van Gaal is also keen on fellow Dutchman and Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman and is expected to make a bid for the player when he recovers from his long-term injury.
The club has been playing with a makeshift midfield in recent weeks due to a number of injuries. Ander Herrera has been injured twice in the opening few games, while Michael Carrick has yet to be included in a squad this campaign. While Daley Blind has provided cover in front of the back four, United have still lacked a box-to-box ball-winner in the mold of former United stars Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane.
Although they want Vidal to join in January, Juventus will be reluctant to lose a player of that quality when they are still involved in Champions League soccer. However, should the Old Lady exit Europe’s elite competition before then, they could be tempted to cash in on one of their star players – particularly if his attitude is being called into question.
Despite a poor start by their standards, United have risen to a top four spot in the Premier League. They currently sit ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool as the division heads into the international break. Van Gaal has backed plans for United to participate in a number of midweek friendlies as they bid to make up for the lack of European soccer. Although nothing has been confirmed, there has been talk of United playing in exhibition matches in locations such as Dubai. Real Madrid will meet AC Milan in the region in December and it has been reported United could face one or both teams in a big money-spinner.
United’s recent form will have given fans a boost, especially as they are only three points off second place Manchester City. If Vidal joins the ranks in January, then they are arguably only a central defender short of making a serious title challenge next season.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd