Manchester United have wind in their sails, a lease of life; Ed Woodward has shown his competency in securing the signing of a player initially thought to be well out of the club’s reach, with nothing based on financial footing.
Even before a ball has been kicked in what seems to be a new dawn for the club, it feels as though the surge of enthusiasm and renewed hope from Juan Mata’s signing will lift United into the top four – and his signing may well signal the start of a feverish and frantic week of spending in these final few days of the January window.
The temptation is there. United need more than just one player, no matter how good he is, to put the ship right. David Moyes was in Germany on Friday night to take in Bayern’s 2-0 win away to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he reportedly made contact with the agent of Toni Kroos, discussing the possibility of taking on a player whose contract situation, at this time, is identical to that of Wayne Rooney.
The German international would represent another slightly altered change in tact for United. Yes, Kroos is young and therefore fits the bill of what United have been looking for over the past few years. But the Bayern star’s image and profile is far greater than that of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling; from a talent perspective, he outshines Shinji Kagawa.
Kroos is a name that makes sense for United, if Bayern find themselves in a position to relinquish hold on the player. He’s been a regular in the centre of midfield, dropping deeper into the deep-lying position in the absence of either Bastian Schweinsteiger or Javi Martinez.
Much is the same of Yohan Cabaye, another name linked over the past week with a move to Old Trafford. The Newcastle midfielder, even with a slight blip, has been one of the Premier League’s best central midfielders since he arrived from Lille in 2011. PSG’s move for him earlier this month speaks of his talent and potential to be an influential figure at the top of the European game, and for United, Cabaye could have an equal say alongside Mata in the coming fortunes for the club.
But there is danger for United at this time. The idea that Juan Mata was a panic signing was thrown out there, and while it makes little sense due to the need of the club at this time – star power and a player who could make a difference in the final third – United may make a wrong move into the territory of panic buying if they’re not pragmatic.
There’s no doubt that the relevant figures at Old Trafford will be encouraged even further to make another big signing, but while Ed Woodward has done well to bring in Mata, the club’s chief executive must keep his composure and avoid overpaying in the wrong areas of the market.
The club need reinforcements in defence, probably right across the back line if rumours are to be believed that Rafael’s future is in doubt. Fabio Coentrao has been linked at the start of the month, but United can do better. Much of the same can be said of Dante, who despite having an excellent season for Bayern last year, is 30 and doesn’t have too much time left at the top of the game.
It wouldn’t even be a terrible idea if United held their cards until the summer, at least in terms of big-name buys. January is notorious for creating inflated fees, while clubs can be drawn into the game of “panic buying” if their first or second choices aren’t available.
Kroos and Cabaye would be fantastic signings for United and David Moyes – both the German and the Frenchman could form the base and starting point of a possession or counterattacking system. Unless they become available, however, the club must be mindful to not waste the funds Moyes requires to rebuild the squad at Old Trafford.