Ince vs Rodriguez: Which Wing Wizard are United More Likely to Sign?

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By Adrian Back | November 7, 2012 10:37 PM EST

If recent reports contain even a modicum of truth then it seems that Blackpool winger Tom Ince and Porto's James Rodriguez are both genuine targets for Manchester United.

Speculation about the future of Portuguese midfielder Nani has led to increased reports that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will look to sign a replacement either in January, or at the end of the season.

This is despite United already having two very capable wingers in Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia who have both proven their ability year in and year out in the Premier League.

Still, in modern day football you need options as Ferguson reinforced by signing Robin van Persie, thus adding a fourth striker to a squad which already possessed established internationals in Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.

The two main options appear to be Ince and Rodriguez. Both are at the very start of their playing careers and are grabbing headlines because of their natural ability on the ball and eye for goal.

Ince is the younger of the duo at just 20-year-old, but he has far less experience at the very top level, having left Liverpool without making a single first team appearance for the Merseyside club. Instead he has made his name playing for Blackpool in the Championship where he has repeatedly been watched by scouts from Manchester United.

He has scored nine goals in 15 appearances this season and earned the praise of former manager Ian Holloway who believes he has the ability to become even better than Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Holloway has now left the club, to take charge of Crystal Palace, and there is a growing feeling that United may just come calling in January. The England Under-21 international is bound to ask the advice of his father, Paul, who famously moved to Old Trafford from West Ham when he was just 21-years-old.

Ince would be a relatively cheap option for Manchester United and Ferguson has already showed that he has faith in young players from outside the Premier League by signing Nick Powell from Crewe.

A far more expensive option is that of Rodriguez, with reports in the Daily Mail today suggesting that he would cost in the region of £36million. The reason for this substabntial price tag is the reputation that he has built playing in Portugal.

Since joining in 2010, Rodriguez has made 78 appearances in the Porto first team and has already managed to score 24 goals. An impressive return for a player who only turned 21 this summer.

Rodriguez has experience at the very highest level, having already represented Porto on numerous occasions in the Champions League, whilst also scoring two goals in his eight appearances for Colombia.

Ferguson was recently asked about reports that he was set to sign Rodriguez and intimated that the asking price would be far too high, saying: "With regards to James Rodriguez, I hope the news is not true. I hope it's not true because it costs a fortune to sign a player from FC Porto."

Here lies one of the key factors. Ince would arrive for a low fee and would bring little risk. He could continue to learn his trade while playing second fiddle to Young and Valencia.

Rodriguez would bring a big reputation and would require Ferguson to make a huge investment in a player who, while impressing in Portugal, has not been tested elsewhere in Europe.

While Rodriguez may well be viewed as the better player, it would not be of any surprise to see Ince offered the chance to follow in his father's footsteps come January.

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