Date: 25th June 2007 at 1:01pm
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United have spent nearly £50m on Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson and it seems that the time has come to recoup some of the funds committed to these purchases.

Many tipped the exodus would start with defenders leaving Old Trafford but the earthquake will be in the striking department. If roumours are to be believed, Alan Smith is certain to leave United. Middlesbrough are now massive favourites to win the race for the Yorkshireman but nothing has been settled yet, according to his agent.

‘There is a lot of stuff going about at the moment,’ Alex Black told the Manchester Evening News.

‘But nothing is going to be done until Alan comes back from his break.’

‘I read various reports over the weekend that he was supposed to be going to Portsmouth, Newcastle and Sunderland as well. So we’ll have to wait and see.’

Various sources claim Middlesbrough will complete the signing of Smith as soon as the striker is back from his holiday. However, Pompey, Newcastle and even Spurs are in the race for him and remember, a few days ago it was supposed to be a done deal that Smith was heading to Newcastle.

Of course, he reiterated his desire to stay at Old Trafford but similar noises of commitment has not been voiced by anyone at the United hierarchy so one must draw the sad conclusion that Smith’s time is over.

Giuseppe Rossi also stressed at a number of times that he would like above all else to stay at United and prove his worth. However, while Jonny Evans is confirmed to remain at Old Trafford, Fergie’s been menacingly quiet about the young Italian – and that could mean that Parma have reason to hope their 7 million offer will be accepted.

I’m against this but what if it happens? Two strikers leave, surely we’ll need at least one, but preferably two. It seems that 10-15 million could be received for the pack containing Smith and Rossi – but we can’t buy two quality strikers with that amount.

It is possible that United want to sell them and the funds raised will be committed to sign ONE quality striker. That’s an absolutely sensible solution as far as the financial conditions and the squad depth is concerned but many of us would love to see Rossi given a chance.

For me, it’s simple. With 6 million raised from the inevitable sale of Smith, United can purchase a good striker for 12 million – that wouldn’t be a big burden for the budget but this solution involves keeping Rossi.

Otherwise, Richardson may also leave but we do not need to think about his replacement: currently we have five players who are all better on the left side of the midfield than him. Gerard Pique is wooed by Spanish clubs – if they offer good money, we can afford to let him go with defensive talents of Evans and Cathcart lined up.

But whatever happens, one thing is clear. The big spending of the summer is over, now we’ll be economical. Sell players to buy players, that’s the way forward from now this summer.

Would you sell anyone? Or even all of the aforementioned? Join in the debate on the forum and in our comments section!

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