Monday, July 22, 2024

The firepower Arteta wants is Pedro Neto

Morning all, hope you’re all well.

There was plenty of spotlight on last night’s game at Old Trafford after both Man Utd and Liverpool had difficult starts to the season.

I was interested, perhaps even lulled into forgetting that this fixture is very often one of the worst of the season. I can’t be arsed to go back and look at previous results, but my feeling is – as a neutral at least – this is consistently one of the most underwhelming games based on the amount of hype that goes with it.

Last night was just that. Liverpool have big midfield problems, James Milner is too old; Harvey Elliot maybe a bit too young; Thiago too injured; and Jordan too Henderson; and they couldn’t really connect enough with their front three. United started brightly, as you’d expect any team with a modicum of pride to do when they’re playing at home after being hammered 4-0 by Brentford.

The defending for Jadon Sancho’s goal was poor. Trent let the bloke run off him too easily, Alisson went too early and bought the dummy, and if anyone can explain to me why Virgil van Dijk was doing an impression of an old man in the park looking slightly concerned that one of the twelve ducklings he counted in the pond the previous day was missing, I’d be very grateful.

As for United’s second, it looked offside to me, but then the fact that VAR decisions are now being displayed by someone printing out a low-resolution screenshot on a dot matrix printer before being sent to the broadcast studio via a 1998 Motorola flip phone really doesn’t help the viewer make a definitive judgement either way. He looked as onside as Gabriel Jesus did the other day against Bournemouth, but that one was disallowed, so your guess is as good as mine.

Liverpool’s late goal might have sparked an interesting final 10 minutes, but it didn’t really and remarkably, United go above them in the table – but of course it’s only three games. I suspect both those clubs will spend big before the end of the window too, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do. And ultimately it was disappointing that the much feted protests against the Glazers amounted to a few songs and not the immolation of Old Trafford, so I feel especially hard done by this morning.

Yesterday, within seconds of me suggesting we’d try and keep our ‘firepower’ target under wraps, David Ornstein Tweeted that we’re after Wolves’ Pedro Neto.

He would certainly be an exciting signing, and he’s a player we’ve had a long-standing interest in. We reported on a failed Arsenal bid for him back in 2017 when he was breaking through at Braga.

On the one hand, his recent contract extension which ties him down at Molineux until 2027 will make this complicated and expensive. It’s said Wolves aren’t interested in selling, but at the same time there’s talk that they’d want at least £50m for him. As we know, every player has their price, and Wolves are being linked strongly with a move for Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic. Not a like for like replacement, obviously, but one which might be easier to finance if you have a big transfer fee coming in.

What else to say? Neto’s agent is Jorge Mendes, who was involved in the Fabio Vieira deal and the relationship with Edu seems good. If we’ve been talking to the agent for some time, it suggests the player would be interested, and that’s clearly positive. On the other hand though, Wolves might still be a bit sore at us over the Marquinhos thing, and they may also legitimately want to hold onto the player or, at the very least, squeeze as much as possible out of us by playing this one out until the end of the window. And why wouldn’t they?

I’ve seen some concern about the knee injury he suffered last season, which kept him out for the best part of 9 months, but then you look at someone like Gabriel Martinelli who also had a substantial knee injury not too long ago (not the same one), and is now absolutely flying. I don’t think you’re going to find any footballer who is completely injury free, so I don’t think I’d be overly worried about this. If he was someone who picked up a lot of hamstring strains or similar, I’d be more concerned.

Anyway, let’s see where this one goes. And finally for today, as we look like we’re about to spend more without having really brought much in via sales, the question of how we’re financing these deals is an interesting one. As ever, there’s a man in Switzerland who knows what’s what? No, it’s not another new string to Granit Xhaka’s bow, but this thread from @SwissRamble is well worth your time.

Ok folks, have a good one!

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