A handy bit of medical kit from Toshiba has perhaps saved Manchester United over £40 million, after reports of Juventus and Chile star Arturo Vidal suffering a re-occurrence of his long-standing knee injury.
Those stories have since been downplayed by Vidal, and the 27-year-old did play the full 90 minutes in Chile 0-0 friendly draw with Mexico on Saturday.
However, the all-action midfielder hasn’t been the same player since his injury and had a relatively poor World Cup, hampered by the supposedly “rushed” operation before the tournament in Brazil.
And that hastened surgery came after he struggled on the pitch for over a month with his knee injury before he physically couldn’t go on any further – which came during the second leg of Juventus’ Europa League semifinal against Benfica.
The anthroscopic surgery Vidal had on the lateral meniscus in his right knee usually requires 6-8 weeks for full recovery.
Vidal started and played 60 minutes in his team’s 3-1 win over Australia at the World Cup, just five weeks after his procedure.
Of course recovery times can be shorter for athletes at the highest level in their sport, but it must be pointed out the demands are also greater.
After playing for an hour against Australia, Vidal played for 88 minutes in a 2-0 win over Spain just five days later.
Six weeks following his knee procedure, Vidal was in the centre of what for any footballer would’ve been a draining match – Chile had to work extremely hard to get that famous 2-0 win, especially with Spain having 63 per cent possession, a better pass success rate and more shots both on and off target.
Vidal was rested with qualification secured for the 2-0 loss to the Netherlands, but played for 87 minutes in the round of 16 loss to Brazil.
While footballers can recover ahead of the 6-8 week period, most would usually start returning to full training a week ahead of that time, not already be starting in matches played at some of the highest intensities he’ll ever experience in his career.
So the signs are there that Vidal’s problems in his right knee might very well not be over.
And if reports are to be believed that the player did have a medical at Carrington – something that even if true can be easily denied by the club, especially considering the ways to get into United’s training ground unnoticed – it could well have been the new Toshiba Medical Systems facility the Red Devils have boasted about which could’ve prevented the move and saved United wasting a reported £40 million, or more.
The facility at Manchester United’s base – which the club showed off in an advert in The Economist – allows the club’s medical staff to predict future injury problems a player may have.
According to the United website, the ‘medical imaging suite’ can:
“improve player welfare and also facilitate research into early markers of potentially preventable injuries and ways of maintaining player career longetivity at elite level.”
The boastful press release continues:
“The new facility will aid analysis of patterns and trends in rehabilitation, with innovative cardiac and musculoskeletal profiling helping to gain a wider understanding of both normal and abnormal responses to athletic training with possible applications to everyday health problems and injuries outside of professional sports.”
From this information and the apparent deliberation from the Manchester United board and Louis van Gaal, it would appear that Vidal went through this imaging suite at Carrington and potentially serious knee problems showed up.
Or research gleaned from the facility suggested that terms with Juventus were agreed and the midfielder arrived for a medical, it would be pointless as he would fail it and another injury in that right knee was more than likely to happen at some point this season.
Further on in the press release, issued on 11 March 2014, the soon-to-be-axed Manchester United manager David Moyes says:
“Not only is it cutting edge medical technology, it will also help us detect the early signs of injury and help to refine the rehabilitation process – something that will pay dividends for years to come.”
For new man van Gaal, the Toshiba Medical Systems imaging suite could well have paid dividends, especially when dodging bullets in the transfer market.