Sergio Ramos is a gluttonous winner. He has just about the dreamiest footballer CV you could possibly have as a 29-year-old. He's a leader. He loves a scrap. He looks like Heat-era Val Kilmer.
This we know, but might Ramos be the seasoned Sangria Real Madrid send to Manchester United in exchange for the juicy red meat of David De Gea?
Ramos current makes €6m-€7m a year after tax, but he wants more. This in itself is nothing unusual, but the way Ramos' contract negotiations have played out have served up an almighty Spanish soap opera. Madrid are making him wait and it's making Ramos mad. There's even been speculation he was put on a plate and offered to a Barcelona presidential candidate, which would make him the reverse-Luis Figo and flood the market for pig's heads ahead of the next Clasico, if it happened.
It won't happen, but you get the impression relations have soured to a point where spin is winning and Ramos leaving the club he's spent a decade at is now a real possibility. United, with their De Gea card ready to play, are primed and ready.
One report outlined a deal that would see De Gea and £21 million go to Madrid in exchange for Ramos. Based on De Gea's tender years that deal seems somewhat weighted in Madrid's favour, but world-class World Cup-winning central defenders are hardly throwing themselves through the transfer window, and Louis van Gaal could badly use one as he prepares to re-enter the Champions League.
The first thing to consider about Ramos is his sheer, undeniable presence. This is a player who's commanded the most famous players on the planet during his years at Madrid, and cleaning up with Spain. United's current squad, for all its flourishes and players of tenacity, still lacks a natural leader. Wayne Rooney shows the way in work ethic, but he will never be the leader of men United have had in the likes of Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Jaap Stam and Co. over the years.
Ramos would arrive at United with a chip on his shoulder. Hurt by Madrid's resistance to extend to deal and desperate to demonstrate their mistake, you get the feeling his fire would burn red from his baptism in front of the Old Trafford faithful. We already know his father is a United fan, and you can never underestimate the lingering influence of the man who raised you in the decisions you make later.
Should there be doubts over Ramos' temperament? He's loved a reckless red card over the years, but he went without one for club and country during the 2014-15 campaign - for the first time in a decade - and the hope has to be that, at 29, his most petulant days are behind him. Florentino Perez said as much after Ramos' goal had won Madrid "la decima" last season, when he spoke of a new maturity in the player.
When we get down to pure tactics, there can be no denying Ramos is an upgrade on what United currently have to choose from in central defence. Chris Smalling has won plaudits and shown a strong upward trajectory, but Phil Jones remains streaky and Jonny Evans is running out of time to demonstrate he's the long-term solution. Paddy McNair is one for the future, but still raw. Tyler Blackett is in the same category.
The influence of Ramos on the developing defenders at United is another case for spending the money. Just as Gary Cahill has been galvanised by playing alongside John Terry at Chelsea, so might United's next generation be by the sight of Ramos on the training ground, and in the starting lineup. It's been too long since United had a player to aspire to in central defence and Ramos could be the solution.
Watching United last season one criticism was how deliberate they could be bringing the ball out from the back. Ramos is purposeful in possession, he uses the yards in front of him and he's technically as good as you'd expect a holding midfielder to be. Having him at the back for United would up the momentum, put Van Gaal's team on the front foot and inject greater intensity that you get from the pairing of Smalling and Evans back there.
Ramos is strong in the air, very physical and has been clocked as one of the fastest footballers in the world. According to Marca, Ramos gets up to 30.6km/hour, which makes him only fractionally slower than Franck Ribery and almost as quick as Rooney. That pace is vital for a United team who will want to press and hold a high line at home, in order to play a more aggressive, attacking style.
Ultimately, the money side of the Ramos situation is not for fans to worry about. United fans won't care how much he costs, only that they've signed him, and the notion of signing a world-class central defender has been one they've been living with for a few seasons now. All talk has been of Mats Hummels, but could it be that Ramos is the man they've been after all along?
The man himself has talked openly about similarities between Madrid and United, in the way the clubs are run. With a new manager at the Bernabeu, and the politics polluting his legacy, Ramos may very well conclude he needs a new dawn. Old Trafford would be spectacularly lucky to have him.
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