But, while United’s abstinence from sizeable market moves in the last two transfer windows deflate rumours, the recent retention of several key players – including today’s announcement of Patrice Evra’s contract extension – is better news than the most hackneyed whispers of big-money new recruits.
Evra follows Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Ryan Giggs in extending his Old Trafford contract. While Anderson's brimming potential has spilled over into accomplished displays and Giggs’ deal is a masterstroke in further imparting the winger’s influence, the commitment of Evra, Vidic and Rooney is a statement of intent; that United can attract and keep the world’s finest players in their prime. Cristiano Ronaldo is a rare exception; but his desire to realise his Real Madrid dream had been digested by club and supporters long before his departure.
Taking on the captain’s armband, Vidic has set the benchmark for performance levels this term, and should be a contender when major individual awards are dished out in the coming months. Rooney has endured a stuttering season, but remains one of the modern game’s great talents – a resource you’d far rather have than lose. Their commitment to United, despite the rumoured circling of suitors, is a huge boon – as is that of Evra.
The Frenchman has been arguably the world’s best left-back for the last four seasons, jostling with Ashley Cole ever since he fully bedded into English football. He is the embodiment of a modern full-back; a ball-playing athlete who pounds the turf with metronomic raids up and down his flank.
As importantly, he’s key to the squad dynamic. His multilingualism opens him up to the entire roster, he’s charged with choosing the dressing room