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Two articles topped the "gossip" column of the BBC football website this morning. Like many others, I watch this feed closely, hoping beyond the hope that Manchester United has managed to convince Messi to end his career at Old Trafford.
The headlines this morning, to me, sum up the first position now and in the years to come.
Manchester United will apparently make an offer for Jordan Pickford of Everton if David de Gea refuses to commit to another contract.
And Manchester City beat Barcelona with the signing of Frenkie de Jong, the greatest talent to emerge from Holland since Patrick Kluivert or Marco Van Basten. I hope he's the best since Johan Cruyff. Maybe they're right.
Manchester United was not even mentioned in Jong's story. Barcelona thought they had the interior running into another wunderkid who dreamed of the Nou Camp. They saw him as a natural successor to Sergio Busquets. He idolizes Messi. But he chose the city.
Pep Guardiola. The striker city football game. The year of guarantee of the football of the Champions League. The pure class of everything City. How could Jong resist?
Juventus was mentioned as perhaps the only team that managed to go around the City. The prospect of becoming part of the Old Lady's evolving galactic may be enough to influence De Jong. But he is not going to United.
United somehow held Gea all this time. He has never had the support of a world-class defense. Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van de Sar before him became just United legends with their brilliance prowess, but they have always had the support of artists such as Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Dennis Irwin.
De Gea, like all Spanish players, must have grown up dreaming that his legacy would be measured in large part by his contribution to the legend of Barcelona, or Real.
However, he remained loyal to United and he needs to be recognized for it. Maybe this is about to come to an end.
And for all of Pickford's quality, if De Gea comes out and United's defense is built around the young Englishman, instead of being perhaps the best in the world, where does that leave United?
Well where Liverpool found itself before Klopp, I guess. In that no-man's-land, where good quality English players and mid-range Europeans, consider signing up. Where United slipped the order of the BBC gossip site, so that United's "stars" are linked are moving between Valencia, West Brom … and United. And meanwhile, the next of Jong, and the Neymars and the Kanes, circulate among the real heavyweights, Bayern, Real, Juve, Barca …. and city.
United took decades to figure out how to evolve beyond Matt Busby. Liverpool seemed to do the same by going beyond Paisley.
Klopp is starting to change that into the "Pool". Is Mourinho capable of this for United? David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal. United did not achieve success.
If it lasts long enough, it will become self-fulfilling, and Manchester will turn blue for decades to come.