Manchester United’s 2-1 loss at home to Swansea on the weekend provided a much-needed reminder of how poor the current squad at Old Trafford is. Many of us have been caught up in the whirlwind following Louis van Gaal’s arrival, and were thus quick to forget how much was needed to improve the squad.
What is clear is that the team need additions at centre-back and central midfield. Another forward, either a striker or wide player, wouldn’t go amiss either.
For much of 2014, Ed Woodward has talked up United’s spending ability this summer, but thus far the only deals completed have been for Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, two good additions but clearly not enough.
With two weeks remaining in the transfer window, United will need to move through the gears quickly in order to make up for the lack of quality in the squad.
Here’s a look at five players United should target before the deadline.
PSG appear out of the running for Angel Di Maria, with the Parisians unable to move any of their high earners off the books and raise funds for a move for the Argentine.
But that does open the door for Man United, who are short of world-class players for the wide positions. Louis van Gaal may lean on the 3-5-2 formation, but the Dutchman is likely to move to something resembling a 4-3-3 as well.
Di Maria, however, is able to play centrally in the midfield, after being successfully converted by Carlo Ancelotti. One way or another, the Argentine would offer a significant upgrade in multiple positions at Old Trafford.
Real Madrid are said to be asking for well over £50 million, but United can’t afford to look past players of this quality.
Juan Cuadrado was one of the standout attackers in Serie A last season, leading to plenty of interest from Barcelona this summer. It was said the Catalans were looking to the Colombian international to replace Dani Alves, who as yet has been unable to find a club willing to match his wage demands.
But Cuadrado would be an excellent signing for Manchester United, able to play as a forward in a 4-3-3 formation or as a wing-back.
The Colombian has expressed his desire to leave Fiorentina and could yet make the move away if United match the Italian club’s valuation.
Ajax will be well aware that they’ll be unable to keep Daley Blind for long into the future, and a transfer away may yet take place this summer.
Blind caught the eye with his performances for Holland at the World Cup, and, able to play in multiple defensive positions, would address a number of weaknesses in the United squad.
Blind has long looked one of the most obvious signings for Louis van Gaal. With so much pressure on United to buy, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Blind arrived at Old Trafford before the transfer deadline.
Standing out as one of the best players in Dutch football last season, there are few doubting that Blind would be a great player for United for many years to come.
Mehdi Benatia is a reported target for a number of major clubs across Europe, with Bayern Munich in need of another defender following the injury to Javi Martinez.
But Manchester United would prove to be a better destination for the Roma centre-back, who would undoubtedly be a starter at Old Trafford. Benatia was comfortably the best defender in Serie A last season and would greatly improve Louis van Gaal’s defence.
Roma have previously stated it would cost around €60 million to land the centre-back, but even if the club are willing to move on that price, United should be well-equipped to get a deal done.
Real Madrid are said to be keen to offload Sami Khedira this summer, so is there any reason Manchester United aren’t in the mix?
The club desperately need another midfielder, and preferably one able to play a defensive role. Having already signed Ander Herrera, the club would do well to offer the Spaniard the partner that would allow him to flourish at Old Trafford.
Khedira is reportedly available for a knockdown price, and with clubs around Europe yet to pull the trigger on a deal, United should hold no reservations about entering the race for the German international.