RIVALDO WOULD ONLY MAKE REDS GREATER
By Rupert Webster
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Rivaldo has been a long-term target of Sir Alex Ferguson's since United and Barcelona played out two thrilling 3-3 draws in the Champions League back in 1998, with the Brazilian destroying The Red Devils` defence with a pair of fantastic performances and two superb goals.
Rivaldo has been equally prolific in this season's tournament. Indeed, although Barca failed to get past the opening group stage, he is still the tournament's joint-highest scorer with six goals from as many games.
The 29-year-old star has achieved this feat in large part because of the incredible hat-trick he fired at the San Siro against Milan, but his finishing throughout the competition was also exemplary. Indeed, Rivaldo scored with a superb 21% of his shots, which is better than other European greats still in the competition such as Raul, Thierry Henry and Giovane Elber. Added to the 19 goals that Rivaldo has grabbed in La Liga and one can see why Ferguson is so keen to land the Brazilian.
However, Rivaldo's goalscoring abilities are not the only asset that he would bring to Old Trafford. He has a superb range of passing, something that is highlighted by the fact that he has found a colleague with a whopping 87% of his long passes - 14 percentage points better than United pass-master David Beckham has managed. In fact so good were Rivaldo's performances in the Champions League that Red Devils captain Roy Keane stated that the Brazilian is the player he would most like United to sign.
Moreover, Rivaldo's versatility would surely prove invaluable during Ferguson's frequent team changes throughout the campaign. The Brazilian played most of last season at left wing, but he has since played behind the strikers or even up front, where his distribution can be used to even more lethal effect.
Wherever Ferguson feels that Rivaldo could be used most effectively, there can be no doubt that he would be a huge success in England, as his performances against Premiership clubs have always been of the highest order. Added to the two goals that he fired against United in 1998, Rivaldo has managed to score five further times in just six games for Barca against Premiership sides such as Chelsea, Leeds and Arsenal over the past two seasons.
By winning the title with five games to spare, United have shown that they are currently head and shoulders above the rest of The Premiership. By signing a player of Rivaldo's class, they would be signalling that they want to retain their advantage at all costs.