Exclusive: Expert insight into Manchester United signing £72m duo this summer

by Sam Peoples
Atletico Madrid’s best squad looks like it will be broken up this summer and Manchester United have been heavily linked to two of their players.
The 29-year-old centre back Miranda and 22-year-old midfielder Koke have been linked with a combined £72 million move away from the La Liga champions, but with Barcelona sniffing around, do United stand a chance at signing either of the players?
The Peoples Person managed to talk with Billy Edwards, a writer from Atletico Fans, to speak about what could happen this summer

Do you believe Miranda will leave the club during the summer?

Of the two, Miranda is the more likely to leave in the coming transfer window. If it’s true United are willing to meet his release clause then at the age 29, it would be a good deal for all parties involved. The link in Marca was rubbished by a few UK-based journalists which makes me think it could’ve been released strategically by the club, perhaps due to the reported interest from Barcelona in an attempt to drive the price up. I’m not 100% convinced he will go anywhere, but it’s definitely not impossible.

Do you think Koke will leave the club during the summer?

I can see Koke at Atlético for a long time. Unlike Miranda, he is young and has a long career ahead of him, one that I hope will be here at the club he grew up supporting. Big money will most likely be offered such is his talent, but given the season we just had I fully expect him to stay and continue his progression. He’s said a few times publicly that he is comfortable at Atletico, and I think it would have to take a very special offer to change his mind, especially this summer.

Both have been linked to Manchester United and Barcelona, hypothetically, do you believe United stand a chance at signing either of them?

I do. Miranda has had a wonderful three years at Atleti and is loved by the fans, but being constantly overlooked for the Brazil squad will have bothered him and it wouldn’t surprise me if he felt a club like United could give him a bigger platform. At his age, one last move could really pay off and I think if his release clause were to be met he would have a real decision to make. Koke is perhaps more difficult but again, any player would be tempted. The chance to play with De Gea and Mata would have a big pull I’m sure.

Do you believe a club would match Koke’s minimum fee release clause or will they try to negotiate for a lower price?

Despite the rumours, I doubt it. Koke is very good, but £48m is beyond his value and I don’t think either United or Barcelona are in a position to offer that in the first instance. A bid of between £30-35m would probably get the ball rolling, and although I’ve heard that Gil Marín (CEO) regards him as his favourite player at the club, us turning down that kind of money is hard to see. The issue then would be having to convince the player to make the move.

How pivotal is Koke to the club?

He’s very important both to the team and the club as a whole. We don’t rely on him as much as Gabi for example, but his influence is growing all the time and there is a big difference when he is missing. Koke brings the energy and provides a fantastic link between midfield and attack.
He’s very skilled at finding space, and even if he he’s not particularly busy in possession, you can be sure he’ll be giving everything for the cause. His intelligence is far beyond his years and his final ball is improving all the time. Over the last few seasons he has grown into our style and is now an integral part of it. I think his departure would hit the hardest – unless Simeone were to leave of course – as having come from the academy he is a real idol to fans, much like Torres and De Gea were.

Who is the better defender Miranda or Godin?​

Contrary to what I’ve read from many so-called experts online, most Atlético fans will tell you that Miranda is the better defender. He may not be as dominant as Godín, but when it comes to reading of the game, consistency and composure, there are few better in world football. Even before Simeone came he was one of our better players, and was also voted the best defender in the Brazilian league for three years running, which for me suggests he would be the better signing and the more likely to maintain his current level of performance at another club.

What do you believe are Miranda’s strengths and weaknesses?

He is not particularly fast or powerful, but what is so impressive is how he makes up for that with his mental attributes. It’s his positional sense and anticipation that make him such a good defender. Physically he doesn’t appear imposing but he has extremely deceptive strength, not once can I remember a time where somebody has gotten the better of him due to having more pace or muscle.
In fact, in three years at Atletico I couldn’t find you a mistake worth noting, his consistency has been incredible. One possible weakness could be on the ball. Beckenbauer he is not, but in a team like ours it has no bearing. I’m not sure whether it would be an issue at United either, perhaps so at Barça, but I wouldn’t consider it anything to worry about if he were to join.

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