United in for Ribery? Well, it would stop Barcelona getting him
It says more about the value of the pound than it does the value of Franck Ribery that the sum United are supposed to be prepared to pay for him is so high — 63 million pounds, if there’s anything to the story in this morning’s Guardian.
That sum is a shade over 70 million euros, which is a slightly less ridiculous amount than the 100 million euros it would have been a year or two ago but is still, of course, vastly overinflated.
Ribery is a remarkable player — so quick and direct with the ball at his feet that he looked in an altogether different class when he arrived in the Bundesliga in 2007.
I’m sure he’d be menacing in the Premier League as well — Albert Riera is considered to have had a decent first season so heaven knows what sort of plaudits Ribery could expect.
But would he be capable of filling the boots of Cristiano Ronaldo, if United are indeed considering selling the Portuguese winger and replacing him with the Frenchman?
I’d back him to embarrass the weaker defences, to win free kicks against everyone and to shrug off the weight of the price tag quite easily. But could he contribute as many goals as Ronaldo? Would he be so effective in the Champions League? Would he provide the same value to the Untied brand?
Signing Ribery would work well for United in another sense, in that it would stop him moving to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
A while back the Spanish sports press seemed convinced that Barcelona were about to sign him and it’s easy to see why Barca would want one of the few players around as technically gifted as the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Ribery could slot straight in on the left of that attacking trio, in place of Henry, or take a freer role behind the centre-forward.
Then again, Florentino Perez is said to be interested in doing a deal for Ribery to boost his bid for another shot at the Real Madrid presidency.
Anyway, if United’s reported intent is genuine, the money being talked about would surely rule anyone else out. Neutrals in England may feel that Ribery would be a better fit at Arsenal, but at 60-odd million quid, that’s not going to happen.
Would Bayern be prepared to let him go? His departure would be a painful blow to the Bundesliga, just when the league is enjoying a boom, but Bayern are nothing if not pragmatic and trebling the 25 million euros they paid for him a couple of years ago would allow for a major rebuilding job for their new coach. Arjen Robben, Diego or Rafael van der Vaart, a couple of defenders and a new centre forward could all be theirs for that sort of money…
PHOTO: Franck Ribery watches Bayern’s Bundesliga match against Borussia Moenchengladbach from the tribune in Munich, May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Alexandra Beier