Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is Nemanja Vidic Engineering a Move Away from Manchester United?

Nemanja Vidic's future at Manchester United has been thrown into doubt yet again after an obviously unhappy Alex Ferguson spoke about the defenders "injury" and his refusal to return to action for the upcoming Champions League match with AC Milan.

Speculation linking the giant Serbian defender with a move to Spain has been doing the rounds since last May, when in the run up to the Champions League Final, Barcelona made it known that they coveted the player . Since then, Real Madrid have also made advances to the player, whose wife has been quoted as hating life in "dull and grey" Manchester.

While Alex Ferguson did his best to emphasise that the player had a future at old Trafford, this latest move by Vidic would seem to have put the cat amongst the pigeons. And the wily Scot could barely hide his dismay when he mentioned that Vidic has been training for the last 10 days but refused to travel as he feels he is not fit enough to play.

United flew to Milan to take on a David Beckham led AC Milan in the first leg of the Last-16 knockout phase of the Champions League without their best defender. Vidic has not played since the end of December when he suffered nerve damage in the game against Wigan.

He then famously pulled out of the FA Cup game against Leeds in the warm-up, citing the same nerve injury. Ferguson was furious after that late withdrawal and following the Red Devils defeat he lambasted his entire team, and Vidic in particular.

"It's a difficult one..."

"Because he feels he needs a lot of training," the United manager said, his annoyance with the player evident.

"He has been training for the past 10 days but doesn't feel he's ready to be part of the games...

"That's something we have to be patient with, which we are doing at the moment."

At this stage it appears as if Vidic has had his head turned by the prospect of a move to sunnier climes. Over the course of his United career he is easily the best defender in the English Premier League, but his form has dipped dramatically since Barcelona's initial advances.

The move to Barcelona almost happened last summer, but after losing Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80million, United could not face losing another senior player and Vidic was talked into staying for at least one more year while Ferguson looked for a replacement.

Should Vidic be sold as expected this summer, United would want somewhere in the region of £20million for the player. The Red Devils have scouted Palermo's Simon Kjaer over the last year, but they will face opposition from almost every major team in Europe for the young Dane's signature. A recent move to Spurs collapsed after the defender demanded £100,000 per week in wages after the two clubs had agreed upon a fee.

When Ferguson was asked about the Serbian's future at the club he had this to say:

"I can't answer that question (about Vidic's future) simply because it's pure speculation."

"We get it from time to time because a lot of clubs want to buy our players and we just have to deal with that speculation. Of course we want him to stay. He's a great player, one of the best centre-backs in the world."

There is no doubting Vidic's class, but whether United fans will get to see him in that famous red jersey next season is something they will have to ponder over the coming months.