Does Manchester United need Douglas Costa?
Background image: Xavoun, CC BY-SA 3.0
Manchester United is reported to have made a bid of £54million to sign Juventus winger Douglas Costa. Sir Alex Ferguson is thought to have a hand in this, having come on board as a consultant to work with interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in order to get the club back to winning ways after stuttering under Jose Mourinho.
The former manager was interested in the player during his reign and sought to recruit him back in 2011 but the deal did not materialise. There is now renewed interest from the club to sign the Brazilian winger who made his loan move from Bayern Munich to Juventus permanent in the summer. But does the player represent the best value for the club?
United has lacked a natural right winger for a long time now. In fact, the last natural right winger to sign for the club was Wilfried Zaha; a player who never really got a good chance to show his quality while wearing the club's famous jersey. The need for a player that would fit the position led Mourinho to Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic. But the Red Devils were put off by Inter's huge transfer fee demands.
United can boast of at least three wingers in the team as Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can operate out wide, but the trio all favour the left wing. Therefore, signing Costa will make sense as he can provide the needed balance due to his ability to play on the right.
The 28-year-old comes loaded with high-octane energy, pace and trickery. His sharp runs into the opponent's danger area opens up defences and creates goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. These qualities could bring some much-needed bite back into a sometimes struggling United attack.
However, there is a problem. The Brazilian comes with baggage that may not be welcome at Old Trafford. It could be recalled that his attitude led to him being frozen out of the team at Bayern Munich before he was then offloaded to Juventus on loan.
In Italy, Costa has not been a key part of the squad. He is usually called upon from bench to see out games. He has started only four of the 13 league games he has featured in this season for the Bianconeri resulting in zero goals and assists to his name. His first start in the Champions League came in a dead rubber, against Young Boys, after the side had already qualified for the Round of 16.
He made headlines for all the wrong reasons in September when he saw red and was subsequently given a four-game ban by the Serie A authorities for spitting on Sassuolo's Federico di Francesco during a league match. Is this really the type of attitude that would be welcome at Old Trafford?
Also, for a player that is already 28 and hardly finds the back of the net or provides assists, there are definitely better options for the position out there. Players like AC Milan's Suso, PSV Eindhoven's Hirving Lozano, Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Borussia Monchengladbach's forward Thorgan Hazard. They are both younger and can contribute directly to the team's goal scoring efforts.
But first things first, the club needs to address the elephant in the room. Defensive problems remain the biggest concern that must be fixed before spending a tidy sum on another player up front. Sure, there is no such thing as too much quality, but overloading the team upfront while leaving the back unattended to could lead to little or no progress in the end.