Marcos Rojo Transfer Fulfills Specific Need for Manchester United

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentAugust 19, 2014

Argentina's Marcos Rojo celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the group F World Cup soccer match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

When Manchester United fans were drawing up their transfer wish lists earlier this summer, not many of them featured Marcos Rojo, who moved to Old Trafford on Tuesday pending certain terms, per BBC Sport.

He perhaps wasn't very high up on Louis van Gaal's either. But the United manager and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward don't have the luxury of being picky with a little over two weeks left in the transfer window.

In a perfect world, Mats Hummels would have wanted to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer. Or Thomas Vermaelen might have demanded a move from Arsenal to Old Trafford—as Robin van Persie did in 2012—rather than sign for Barcelona and appease Arsene Wenger.

Jon Super/Associated Press

With each day that has passed in this window, there has always been the danger Van Gaal could end up taking training on September 2 with a squad that includes no more new faces.

With Rojo, United at least have someone to fill the void left by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, even if the Argentinian has a way to go to prove he's in the same class.

The prospect of relying on just Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling this season was starting to scare many fans. Rojo might not have been anybody's first choice, but he does fill a specific need.

He can play as a centre-half or as a left-back, where he'll offer cover for Luke Shaw. He can also play on the left of a back three if Van Gaal chooses to stick with his 5-3-2.

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

At 24 years old, he still has time to improve. He has a better injury record than Vermaelen, and he's cheaper than Hummels.

More than that, Van Gaal and Woodward have addressed a key need.

Last summer, David Moyes signed Marouane Fellaini on deadline day. He needed a mobile, box-to-box midfielder. But he ended up with a physical presence, at his best when pushed further forward in spaces usually reserved for Wayne Rooney or Shinji Kagawa.

Moyes still needed a midfielder in January, but he spent a club-record fee on Juan Mata instead. 

The Spaniard is a wonderful player. There's little doubt about that. But because he doesn't help his teams defensively, he wasn't what United needed at the time.

Felipe Dana/Associated Press

Van Gaal needs Rojo. Or at least, he needs a player who can do the same job. 

He will have been more aware than most that he couldn't head into the new season with only three first-team centre-backs. United have only played one game, and the Dutchman has already had to call on the inexperienced Tyler Blackett to plug a gap. It would have been a mistake not to address the problem.

There were better and more experienced defenders available this summer, but Van Gaal needed a player who could fulfil a specific need.

He eventually found what he was looking for, even if it wasn't quite in the place he expected.


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