Depending on who you’re willing to lay your chips with Felipe Anderson could soon become the latest big money acquisition at Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal. Lazio have responded to these claims with a statement from Claudio Lotito which reads “We rejected a €50m bid from Man Utd in August; nothing has changed since then” but with Anderson’s refusal to commit his future to Lazio beyond January coupled with him being relegated to bench duty versus Fiorentina one can only continue to speculate on how long Anderson will remain in Italy.
Is Anderson the player United need?
When you sit back and ponder on United’s weaknesses in their first eleven and in their squad on a whole you’re left puzzled as to why Felipe Anderson would be a good signing for them. What is it about this player that LVG looks on and says “Yes, he fits my philosophy’? Philosophy is a big deal for LVG and from what we have seen he is keen to continue with a possession based system at United. Now this has lead to a lot of complaints from United fans about how laboured, slow, and boring United have become and that is understandable. Should LVG abandon his philosophy? No, not necessarily. However, he is missing a couple of players that allow that philosophy to work to it’s optimum.
Step forward Felipe Anderson. At 22 years old Anderson is an interesting player however it is cloudy on where LVG plans on fitting him in. The player United need more than ever for LVG’s philosophy to work is a elite attacking midfielder, one in the ilk of a David Silva who will continuously search for the ball and maintain his influence whether he drops deep or is in the final third. Does LVG see such a player in Anderson? He is capable of playing centrally however he is at his most comfortable and his best when he is allowed to attack from wide areas. With the likes of Martial, Depay, Mata and Lingaard already present for wide roles the idea here surely must be to convert Anderson into a full-time central attacking player but is he up to the task?
Form or Class?
The major gripe with Anderson is that he defines inconsistency. He’s recently been criticized by his Manager Stefano Pioli for his underwhelming performances this season and has even been dropped to the bench due to his lack of influence on the field. Many will argue that Felipe struggles can be attributed to a lack of support from his teammates but the player himself must admit he has failed to ascend to a higher level. His opponents in Italy have wisened up to his ability and they have adjusted to nullify him. A talent reportedly worth €50m should also be finding new ways to adapt and improve to ensure his impact continues.
If we really scrutinize Anderon’s impact at Lazio since his arrival from Santos in 2013 we are left with the realization he’s only ever really had a couple months of top form in the 2014-2015 season. His first season in Italy saw him struggle to adapt to his new team and environment while his second season saw him put himself in the spotlight but has anyone outside of regular Serie A watchers really evaluated this golden season? Felipe ended the 14-15 season with 10 goals and 7 assists in 31 appearances and while those are good statistics his inconsistency is highlighted when you note that those 10 goals and 6 of those 7 assists can be accounted for in a 13 game run from December to April. Before and after that stretch of top form his influence was non-existent.
When one thinks of Anderson lining up in the red of United we invariably are reminded of another Brazilian who recently arrived to wear the red of Liverpool. Roberto Firmino, while not a carbon copy for Felipe, is a Brazilian play-maker who has excelled in Germany consistently in ways Anderson has not for Lazio in Italy. Firmino has found the move to EPL hard so far and he is easily the better of the two players. If Firmino is struggling why should we believe the inconsistent Anderson would fare better? A €50m move for Anderson at this juncture of his career stinks of desperation on United’s part. He’s not the type of player one would bank on could come into a new league and a new system and hit the ground running. His history with weight issues and heavy inconsistency on the field of play should also be a worry for all United fans.
United are not short of money but this is an expensive gamble that even they should be hesistant about. But hey, the last overpriced Brazilian attacking player with weight and consistency issues United signed did help them win a Champions League.