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This time, COS reader Ralph thinks this is one battle Manchester United should let Liverpool win.
It is fair to say that Gabriel Heinze is not top of Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s Christmas card list. In fact it may even have got to the point where the Argentinian may have to sign up to a witness-protection programme. Thatâ€™s if you believe everything you read.
What is clear is that the ever-smiling full-back does seem to want to move on from Old Trafford, mainly I guess because he is not too keen on trying to fight Patrice Evra for the regular starting place in the Manchester United line-up. New FIFA rules allow players to pay off the final two years of their contract, and Â£65,000-a-week Heinze knows it will cost him a whopping Â£6.8m to trigger his exit from United, a figure he will no doubt recoup from any fee that Liverpool, or indeed any other team would hand him on his arrival.
When I first read about the potential deal and the anger that surrounded it, I was scratching my head to think of the last player to make the move between the two clubs. I couldnâ€™t think of one and then the name Phil Chisnall cropped up in many websites and newspapers. He left Old Trafford for Anfield in 1964.
The fact that Chisnallâ€™s move was pretty much a flop (nine appearances in three years) is neither here nor there. What is interesting is the sheer animosity that exists between the two sides, but that, too, is for another time. Not brave enough to write that particular piece.
What is worth talking about is Sir Alexâ€™s insistence in avoiding parting with a world-class international to fellow title, and indeed Champions League, rivals – something that Jose Mourinho and Chelsea have been doing (perhaps wisely) for years. Even given the fact that United are seemingly powerless to stop Gabby from leaving, I guess they are well within their rights to protest as vehemently as they like. Will it stop it from happening? Probably not. Will it make Heinze a figure of hate at Old Trafford?
Oh, I think you can count on that.
Heinze also has a right to leave United. He has fallen out of favour after once being the darling of the Old Trafford terraces. But recently he’s lost his place to a younger man, Patrice Evra, whose fine form earned him a place in the PFA Team of the Year (I am sure he didnâ€™t get Heinzeâ€™s vote). It does in some ways seem churlish to stand in his way, as United appear to be doing, but you can see both sides of the issue and there is a fine line between protecting your assets, i.e. United not wishing rivals to benefit from the purchase of one of their own, and not treating players as commodities that can be bought and sold without their advice being sought.
As I mentioned earlier, similar issues have been reported at Chelsea, and there are many who feel that any move that Shaun Wright-Phillips may make will be greatly dictated by who Chelsea feel could challenge them (so no point in Southport bidding for him). Scott Parkerâ€™s long-running battle to leave Stamford Bridge was also said to have mirrored these factors. Would Chelsea or any other side be in the wrong for doing such a thing, or is this just a logical by-product of a club that don’t want to give any rival assistance?
This brings up the whole issue of player power and whether the new FIFA rules favour the individual and not their employer. Who knows? However, I am sure that this whole mess will have sharpened the rivalry between the two sides and make their encounters even more of a â€˜must-seeâ€™ event.
Sir Alex and United fans should just let him go. Anyone who wants to leave that badly should just be sold off. I used to belong to the school of thought that said â€œlet them rot in the reserves for two years.â€ Unfortunately that canâ€™t really be the case under present-day guidelines, so best to sit back, relax and live and let live – until December 15 at least.