The new Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, is in a better place than most to judge the talent on display in Brazil at the World Cup.
The Dutchman knows that once his World Cup is over with the Netherlands national side, he will have his work cut out to reinvigorate Man United after their abysmal 2013-14 campaign.
The club are believed to be willing to allow van Gaal a transfer budget in excess of £200 million to help the club back towards the top of the table. Van Gaal will consider the World Cup a chance to assess the credentials of those players he has on his lengthy wish list.
Man United’s squad is in desperate need of a re-shuffle now, so here’s a look at 25 stars van Gaal could take a punt on this summer.
An assured and classy Brazilian centre-back, who is believed amongst some media sources to be out of favour with Pep Guardiola. United need new defensive reinforcements, and Dante could be the answer.
Barcelona’s enforcer is one of Cameroon’s biggest creative forces. His passing and vision from a deep-lying midfield position is something United have lacked since Paul Scholes retired.
Marseille’s N’Koulou may just be outgrowing his club now, and is highly-regarded in Europe. His athleticism and strength in duels would help adaptation in the Premier League, and United need added quality in the centre of defence.
Kovacic is one of Croatia’s brightest stars, but has lost his way at Inter Milan, playing out of position. His vision, dribbling abilities, and bravery in possession are what United lack in the centre of the field.
The Saints’ Croatian centre-back rock has reportedly put in a transfer request, and is on a number of teams’ shopping list. He was one of the Premier League’s star defenders last season, and has all the qualities to shine in Manchester.
The man with too few vowels in his name is a possible replacement full-back is strong aerially, and offers something going forwards. He models his play on Dani Alves, who seems a good idol for a young aspiring full-back.
Mandzukic is destined for the exit at Bayern Munich. His goalscoring record has been good during his two years at the club, and if a top player like him is available, United would be silly to pass up the chance.
Perisic has looked impressive in Brazil so far this summer. He is composed in possession, has a keen eye for goal, and his passing is pinpoint. United’s lack of midfield quality could do with the quality of Perisic.
Mexico’s star centre-back looked assured in their first game against Cameroon. He is Espanyol’s rock at the heart of defence, and has the quality on the ball to move the ball from the back sharply and effectively.
Recent rumours emerged surrounding Jordi Alba’s Barcelona future, and he would be the perfect replacement for Patrice Evra. Quick, energetic, and efficient in the final third, Alba would be a great buy.
If van Gaal wants a man who can play at the back, or screen the defence, Bayern Munich’s Spanish powerhouse Javi Martinez is ideal. He’s an athlete who can tackle and recycle possession better than most, and is the type of midfielder United are desperate for.
Penetration in wide areas is something United have lacked, and Sanchez would instantly solve that problem. Lethal in duels against his full-back whilst providing a genuine goal threat, Sanchez is a world-class player who will have his suitors this summer.
Vidal is one of the best all-round midfielders on the planet. He has everything – technically, physically, tactically – and has proven time and time again for Juventus and Chile. He is expensive, but worth every penny.
Paper rumours obsess with linking Manchester United to Dutch footballers this summer and de Vrij is yet another. He is young, and another off the talented production line at Feyenoord who looks set for a move this summer.
Feyenoord’s googly-eyed centre-back is a rock for his club and country. He has been compared to Jaap Stam, which should be enough for United fans to get excited about if they make a move this summer.
Ajax’s 24-year-old showed his worth in the Netherlands’ 5-1 hammering of Spain in their World Cup opener, and Blind contributed the first two assists. His delivery and attacking intent would help give another dimension to their stunted attacks.
Another Feyenoord prodigy, the ‘Dutch Xavi’ is a genuine pass master. He can create from deep, and dictate the tempo of a game. Clasie is rated highly in his native country, and by van Gaal. He could find his way to United in the near future.
Depay is lightning fast and has an eye for goal, which would give United life on the wings. His direct approach causes nightmares for defenders, and his two-footedness makes him unpredictable.
Heavily linked in the past with United, Sneijder still has all the qualities to excel at the club. Few players can match his vision, and he is a regular goal threat. Sneijder may not be the player of four years ago, but he still oozes quality.
The Colombian is a powerful box-to-box midfielder, who can break down attacks and launch his side forwards in one movement. He’d add the all-round ability that the Man United midfield currently lacks.
James prefers a central role, but can fill a position wide and look to drift around the field. He is difficult to pick up, and will always look to thread passes in behind the striker. James is one of Ligue 1’s finest, and would add a cutting-edge to United in attack.
Newcastle’s Ivorian is a destructive and committed player, who can frustrate an entire opposition on his best days. Tiote’s star may have faded since his first two years at Newcastle, but the bite he gives in midfield may be of use.
Nagatomo is an industrious and willing full-back, always looking to get into good attacking positions without neglecting his defensive responsibilities. United need a new left-back, and Nagatomo could be an answer.
David Moyes attempted to land Baines last summer unsuccessfully, but he would still be a fantastic purchase. His delivery from both set-pieces and open play are consistent, and he always offers a goal threat.
Shaw looks like United’s most likely new left-back this summer, and he is proven in the Premier League. He is Ashley Cole’s long-term successor in an England shirt, and his discipline up and down the left wing is unparalleled.