Much has been said since the turn of the year in regards to who Manchester United are going to target this summer transfer window. Everyone seems to have an opinion on who United require but perhaps the more pertinent question should be: who can they acquire?
I don’t buy into the theory that the club won’t be able to attract their targets simply because we can’t offer European football for a year. In this modern day game, money very much talks, so should you offer enough, they will come. The main stumbling block is more likely to be whether these players can see United rising again.
That’s why I felt there was a desperate need to part with David Moyes. Here was a man who was quite clearly skating on thin ice, so would a top player want to join amidst all the uncertainty? I’m not so sure and so I believe that the sacking has increased the club’s chances massively of acquiring our targets this summer.
So with all that said, let’s have a look at who United are likely to be chasing this coming transfer window:
At the beginning of this current campaign, it was widely agreed that the area of the squad in the most alarming need of improvement was the midfield. However, as this season has developed, it has become worryingly apparent that the defence is falling apart at the seams. There is an argument that could be made that all four positions will need to be filled.
At right back, I think Rafael is a quality player. He’s gone off the boil this season undoubtedly, but I think he has age on his side and is our best natural right back choice.
That’s not to say that signing Everton’s Seamus Coleman isn’t required. I’m not sure how much of that rumour was fuelled by who our manager was, but there is no doubt that he has been the best right back in the league this year. A £15 million bid wouldn’t be too far off the mark to get his signature, and then you’re talking about having two world class right full backs in your squad.
On the other flank, I think the general consensus is that Patrice Evra is on his way out. He has been an unbelievable servant to the club, but he’s not the best defensively these days and I don’t think he’s gotten a cross beyond the first man since 2010.
It would be incredible should we be able to sign up Southampton’s Luke Shaw as Patrice’s replacement. At eighteen years of age, he has the markings of spending fifteen years at the club, which would certainly soften the blow of parting with the likely £30 million we’d need to in order to gain his signature. He’s made no secret of being a boyhood Chelsea fan, but he’s going to walk straight into our first eleven. Some media outlets reckon this one is already a done deal and, if it comes to fruition, we have a potential fans favourite on our hands.
The need to strengthen things up in the centre of defence is ever more apparent with the impending exits of Nemanja Vidic and, in all probability, Rio Ferdinand. Questions marks still hang over Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling and that’s why I think at least one centre back will be brought in over the summer. The potential that exists amongst the three aforementioned players is incredible, but when left to their own devices this season, they’ve often all too painfully come up short.
There are murmurings surrounding Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels in recent days, which would be an extremely exciting prospect. Exciting but, in my opinion, slightly unrealistic. Hummels was ear marked by Ferguson as a possible signing a couple of years back, but I fear that ship may have now sailed. He’s gotten to a stage where, should he become available, he’d be sought after by the world’s top clubs. I would imagine Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City may well be looking for a centre back this summer so he is just, perhaps, out of reach.
I’m not sure our centre back situation warrants such a multi-million deal that Hummels would demand anyway. I think we are really just looking for a solid, experienced centre back to keep the youngsters in check and, in my mind, there is no better option than that of Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay. The Argentine was apparently all set for Old Trafford last summer before Moyes pulled the plug, but is ready to sign this time round. His performances in the Europa League this year have been terrific and I’d be very surprised if United didn’t come knocking with a £15 million bid.
Proposed defenders for 2014/15: Rafael, Seamus Coleman, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ezequiel Garay, Luke Shaw, Alexander Buttner.
Summer spending total for defence: £60 million
How long have you got? It’s a problem that has been years in the making. From having the strongest midfield in world football, we’ve gone to having one of the most lightweight. It’s an incredible statistic that the signing of Marouane Fellaini represented the first natural central midfield signing since Owen Hargreaves. How we’ve survived this long is simply down to Sir Alex’s genius.
I’d imagine rather a lot of our midfielders will be moved on this summer. Anderson is already halfway there, Nani appears to be on his way to Juventus and players like Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia patently aren’t cutting it anymore. It pains me to say that about Antonio because I really love the way he plays the game, but his strongest attribute, crossing the ball, appears to have abandoned him.
The signings in midfield will determine the way we set up for next campaign. Will the new manager stick to having wingers creating width, or will United conform to the 4-2-3-1 setup, deploying three ‘number tens’ in behind the striker? The latter seems to be the more likely considering the names being mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United.
I sense that there could be a saga coming with Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos, if it isn’t one already. There are many who feel he is simply playing out for a bigger deal from Bayern, but it would be wrong to say he hasn’t seemed unsettled under Pep Guardiola. The enviable array of talent that exists at Munich has pushed him back in the pecking order and all the noises coming out of his camp suggests that he is open to playing at Old Trafford next year, he’s basically said as much.
You don’t need me to tell me how much of a boost that would be to our current squad. It’s likely to cost in the region of £30 million, but for a twenty four year old, world class, central midfielder, he’ s worth his weight in gold.
I’d like to think that we will see a second central midfielder arrive off the back of the Kroos signing, should it happen. Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas has been mentioned again in recent days, but I struggle to think United would sign two midfielders in that kind of price bracket. It would be superb if I was wrong, but I can’t see that happening. Someone who could be a viable target, however, is Dutch midfielder, Kevin Strootman. United fans will be familiar with the name as he was linked with the club all last summer before signing for Italian side Roma.
I feel Stootman’s signing may rest on Louis van Gaal becoming the next manager, given the Dutch connection, but he would represent a great bit of business. He has recently had knee surgery, so you could say there is an element of risk in signing him, but at twenty three and commanding a £20 million price tag, I’d be surprised if United didn’t fancy taking the gamble.
Should they decide against that, however, then an answer could be right on our doorstep here in the English Premier League. The performances of Southampton’s Adam Lallana this year have been quite stunning at times. He has proven calibre in this league, he has the ability to run games and certainly represents what would be a quality signing. I would probably favour the £20 million rated Englishman’s arrival over that of Strootman’s.
One last signing to bolster our midfield options would be that of Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus. The talented young German is yet another player that has blossomed under Jurgen Klopp and is likely to follow ex- fellow stars, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Shinji Kagawa out of the club. In terms of world football, Reus is a current powerhouse and would do wonders to the United squad, adding the much desired creativity and flair that is waiting to burst with players like Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Kagawa already here.
One of his former team-mates, the aforementioned Gotze, has said in recent days how Reus dreamed of playing for Manchester United and that that dream had not changed, despite the club’s struggles this campaign. Again, the noises are promising and Reus is therefore a must buy at a likely price of anywhere from £30-£40 million.
Proposed midfielders for 2014/15: Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Adnan Januzaj, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Adam Lallana, Juan Mata, Marco Reus, Shinji Kagawa, Ryan Giggs, Toni Kroos.
Summer spending for midfield: £85 million
In all honesty, I don’t really see any need to change much here. There will, no doubt, be decisions made on players currently out on loan, but I think United’s summer spending on the forward line will be dictated by whether anyone leaves. At the moment, it doesn’t look like that is likely, outside Javier Hernandez, so Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa will most likely end up at Stamford Bridge.
Proposed strikers for 2014/15: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Nick Powell
Summer spending in total: In the region of £150 million.
To conclude, it’s going to be a very busy summer at Old Trafford, quite simply, because it needs to be. It’s all going to come down to bravery from the owners to part with the money required to raise this giant once again in order to then reap the rewards at the end of next campaign.