Utilityman John O'Shea may be departing Old Trafford. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
According to an exclusive report by ESPNsoccernet, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has put in a £12 million combined bid for a trio of Manchester United players - John O'Shea, Wes Brown, and Darron Gibson. Bruce, a former United center-back under United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, has yet to officially comment on the rumor as the manager is reportedly on holiday with his family. After the winter sale of Darren Bent to Aston Villa, and the upcoming sale of Jordan Henderson to Liverpool, it would appear that Sunderland would have no trouble funding this move.
O'Shea has proven to be a valuable and versatile squad player over the years, however, with the emergence of Fabio and Rafael at full-back, and with Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans the clear choice deputies for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, it appears that the Irishman may be viewed as a surplus. In addition, with the impending arrival of the versativle Phil Jones, O'Shea may be blocking the progression of younger squad members.
Brown, who made his senior debut for United in 1998, has seen his role diminish in recent seasons. A move to the Stadium of Light may be able to provide the 31-year-old defender a chance for regular football. The 23-year-old Gibson has struggled to find regular minutes in United's first team and the Northern Ireland international may be seen by Bruce as the replacement for the soon to be departing Jordan Henderson.
The departures for Brown and Gibson should open up squad space for the anticipated additions to United this summer. Seeing the former leave Old Trafford may cause some United supporters to become a bit nostalgic, however, any cash received for Brown should be seen as a positive at this stage of his career. O'Shea is arguably the bigger loss at this point as he is able to provide depth at either full-back position, center-back, and even as a holding midfielder. His experience and seemingly willingness to play this humble role has been vital to United's recent success - if he is to depart, his service to United should be much appreciated.
Speculation is that Ashley Young will sign with United within the next 48 years - which would be right before his wedding this weekend. In addition, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea is still expected to sign with United, but not until after the U-21 European Championship. As usual, Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp is talking, again about how Spurs won't be losing any of their top players, but no serious indication has been given that United are out of the race for Luka Modric. As for another player linked to United, Wesley Sneijder, it appears now that Chelsea FC may be keen on signing the Dutch playmaker - his wife apparently fancies London more than Manchester as well.