With the ultimate ambition of claiming their first Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement next season, Manchester United are expected to keep themselves exceptionally busy in the transfer market this summer.
There’s been talk of audacious £100million bids for Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, £50million scoops for Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and a £40million prizing away of Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, in what could well be yet another record-breaking transfer window for the Old Trafford outfit.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way; providing you know where to look, there’s still deals to be had in the transfer market, and amid the new age of Financial Fair Play, finding good value-for-money has become more important than ever
So they may not be the most exciting, talked about or lucrative of signings, but we at Football Fancast have come up with FIVE bargain buys the Red Devils should be making this summer.
Although Schalke’s Benedikt Howedes may not be in the same calibre as some of Manchester United’s other centre-back targets, such as Mats Hummels and Nicolas Otamendi, he has plenty to offer the Old Trafford squad.
Of course, the 26 year-old is famed for his versatility, proving himself equally adept at playing anywhere across the backline and even in defensive midfield on occasion.
But he boasts a wealth of experience too, with 53 appearances in European competitions and 32 caps for Germany – for whom he served as a left back during their successful World Cup bid last summer, which is no easy feat when you measure in at 6 foot 2.
Howedes has also held down the Schalke captaincy since 2011, and those natural leadership qualities represent exactly what United currently lack at the heart of their defence.
Throw in a £12.5million release clause and the versatile defender is an absolute steal. Perhaps the only criticism, however, is that Howedes wouldn’t hugely improve United’s starting Xi.
Another defender certainly worth Manchester United’s consideration is Atletico Madrid’s forgotten man Toby Alderweireld, who has just come to the end of a promising campaign on loan at Southampton.
Indeed, the Belgium international played a pivotal role in Ronald Koeman’s side finishing the season with the second-healthiest goals conceded record in the division after Premier League champions Chelsea, averaging 1.7 tackles, 1.2 interceptions 1.4 successful aerial duels and 5.5 clearances per match from his 26 outings.
The 26 year-old’s ability to play at right-back, centre-back or central midfield makes him all the more enticing. And a product of Ajax’s illustrious academy, something tells me he’ll have a fan in Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal.
Southampton have the option to acquire Alderweireld permanently but Atletico are reportedly planning to remove that right at the previously agreed cost of £1.5million.
That would then allow the Mattress Makers to sell at their preferred valuation of £10million, but reports today suggest they’ve already offered the 6 foot 2 centre-back-come-full-back to Chelsea.
He may not be the most glamorous of acquisitions but Nigel de Jong’s shin-shattering tackles and all-round tenacity is something Manchester United’s midfield currently lacks.
Dubbed ‘the lawnmower’ and famed for THAT challenge on Spain’s Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final, the 30 year-old is notorious for the 1990s manner in which he tends to kick lumps out of the opposition.
But there’s no doubt he’s good at his job as a ball-winning midfielder, this season averaging 2.1 tackles and 3.4 interceptions per match at AC Milan.
The Netherlands international looked more than handy under Louis van Gaal’s leadership at last summer’s World Cup and is proven in the Premier League too, claiming a domestic title with Manchester City during the 2011/12 campaign.
Perhaps most appealingly, De Jong’s set to leave the San Siro on a free transfer this summer upon the expiration of his contract. Manchester United have already been linked with the feisty midfielder but reports this morning suggest he could be heading to Galatasaray.
Winger-forward Pedro has done and won everything throughout his Barcleona and Spain careers, namely lifting five La Liga titles, two (almost three) Champions League titles, the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship, whilst generating a return of 114 goals in 367 appearances.
At 27 years of age, he’s still firmly within his prime, but the Spaniard’s Nou Camp tenure could come to an abrupt end this summer. He’s slumped down the pecking order since the £75million arrival of Luis Suarez at the start of the season, and is now on the verge of entering the final year of his Catalans contract.
Alexis Sanchez has completely transformed the Premier League since signing for Arsenal last summer and his former team-mate, blessed with a similar blend of trickery, tenacity, speed and netting prowess, has the potential to do the same.
According to The Express, Barca are willing to sell for just £7million – an absolute bargain for such a proven forward still at his footballing peak. But resultantly, there’s plenty of interest with Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham also linked.
Home-grown goalscorers are becoming an ever-rarer breed but there’s one available this summer for just £5million in the form of Burnley prodigy Danny Ings.
The England U21 bagged eleven goals and four assists during his debut Premier League campaign, which is a fantastic return all things considered – particularly, a 22 year-old spearheading a Burnley outfit who finished second-bottom of the English table.
A particularly clever and skilful striker, Ings’ performances this term suggest he’s capable of playing at a significantly higher level.
Of course, it’s still a bit of a punt and he’s probably not at the level to fill the void of Robin van Persie or Radamel Falcao just yet.
But available through a £5million compensation deal due to his Turf Moor contract expiring, the former Bournemouth youngster seems well worth the gamble for a club like Manchester United.
Tottenham jumped ahead of the queue with a £12million bid last week, however, (PL clubs have only been able to negotiate with English-based free agents since the start of June) which could have an effect on the prodigious forward’s compensation fee.