United have announced the signing of Argentine international defender Marcos Rojo who joins the club from Sporting Lisbon for a reported transfer fee rising in instalments to 20 million Euros. Nani has joined Sporting at the same time on a one year loan.
Rojo was not one of the many targets listed by United watchers, journalists and fans at the start of this summer’s transfer window. His name has come to prominence only over the last few weeks. This suggests he is the first player identified by new manager van Gaal, who he may well have impressed with his recent form at the World Cup in Brazil. Rojo featured as a left back in that tournament and was part of an Argentina side that progressed to the final eliminating van Gaal’s Holland at the semi-final stage.
The saga of this transfer has seemed to drag on for around ten days as a consequence of the protracted resolution of an ownership arrangement where the players “owners” stood to receive 75% of the transfer fee. Sporting were understandably reluctant to sell on those terms. The player himself was keen to see the deal go through and he reportedly refused to train at Sporting for a while. After a stand-off that has been resolved. Rojo was so keen to join the club that he appeared to announce the deal was going through a couple of days ago in interviews with journalists in Argentina and his girlfriend posted a photograph indicating the deal was going ahead prior to any announcement by either club.
United fans will be pleased to see some movement in the transfer market after a lull following the signing of Anders Herrera and Luke Shaw earlier in the summer. Many fans have started to panic about a lack of activity with concerns increasing after a 1-2 home defeat to Swansea City in the first game of the season. This panic came in the light of constant speculation about potential reinforcements. Van Gaal had advised that he wanted to assess his squad upon arrival at Old Trafford, whilst United Executive Ed Woodward encouraged this transfer speculation by advising fans to “watch this space” and stating that the club had plenty of money to spend.
Van Gaal has on several occasions identified an unbalanced squad and a lack of defensive strength as a concern; this summer four defenders have left the club. Rojo is a left sided defender, an area where the club seem shorthanded. He has experience of playing at left back for his national team but has featured more regularly as a left sided central defender for his clubs in recent years. No doubt van Gaal will value that versatility and it will be interesting to see where the player fits into van Gaal’s plans.
Rojo is 24-years of age and has played for Sporting in Portugal for 2 years. Rojo played for Spartak Moscow for a year prior to his spell in Portugal, having joined the Russian side from Estudiantes de la Plata in his native Argentina. He made 53 first team appearances in three years for the club at which he developed helping them win the Argentine Championship in 2010 and the Copa Libertadores, (the South American equivalent of the Champions League) in 2009. Rojo has been capped by Argentina 28 times and was a regular in the side that progressed to the World Cup final. At that tournament he was voted as a member of the FIFA World Cup All-stars team.
Marcos Rojo, welcome to Old Trafford.