It was the contract rejection heard ’round the world – $16 million gross plus $4.1 million in add-ons not enough to keep Andrés Iniesta at Barcelona.
That was back on September 20th and even though it was merely a first offer, the reaction of Don Andrés’ was enough to send shockwaves through clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City.
City, of course, don’t ‘need’ Iniesta, per se. It’s just that, well, he’s Iniesta. Think about it. Slotting him into a midfield alongside the likes of fellow Spanish internationals David Silva and Jesus Navas, as well as former Barcelona teammate Yaya Toure – not to mention a reborn Samir Nasri – would be downright filthy.
So you can see where Manuel Pellegrini’s head was at.
United, on the other hand, need Iniesta like a drunk needs ale. Yes, everyone and their mother is aware that the Red Devils have managed to unearth some creative talent in Adnan Januzaj but to compete for titles Premier League clubs need more than one midfielder who views the pitch as something other than a single lane track.
Iniesta’s vision could change United’s view on the concept of space. He could open up patches of grass at Old Trafford that haven’t been touched since Ronaldo graced the grounds. He could show them the value of going left to right and how sometimes the killer pass is merely five feet away.
So when he heard the news that Iniesta had rejected Barca’s first offer on his contract – which, by the way, doesn’t expire until June 30, 2015 – you can imagine the gerbil wheel spinning in David Moyes’ mind. ‘If we can just get Iniesta to hold off re-signing until January, we can hit Barcelona with a massive offer they can’t refuse.’
$50 million? $60 million? $70 million?
As outlandish as those figures may sound, they’re all possible when it comes to United buying a creative, game-changing midfielder. The main reason? The demand. Simple as that. Another reason? Because when Arsenal, of all clubs, dropped $68 million on Mesut Ozil, the transfer world took pause.
Did tight bummed Arsenal really just spend $68 million?
Was this really what things have come to?
In short, yes. Because Arsene Wenger realized something that few other managers have – whereas there are a plethora of strikers in the world who will get you 20+ goals in the Premier League, there is a distinct paucity of creative, game-changing midfielders. The Silvas, Ozils and Iniestas of the world are few and far between.
And so, with his cracked lips licked, Moyes was ready to pounce on his own midfield maestro. Until, of course, today when Iniesta spoke about his club future ahead of his country’s World Cup qualifier against Georgia. “You have to be where you want to be, and Barca is the place for me,” Iniesta told Movistar’s webpage. “The club knows that and wants me to stay, so I hope and expect to spend the years I have left playing there.”
Mere words, yes, but coming from the player who spent his childhood at La Masia it’s a strong indication of where his future lies.
For Moyes, it’s a minor, temporary setback in his transfer plans. But one way or another, come January, you can bet the Scot will be heading somewhere with fists of money and an intent on finding United’s next great midfield wizard.