Fresh from smashing the British transfer record with the purchase of Angel di Maria over the summer, Manchester United are now set to make headlines again with a move for Mats Hummels… apparently. The current record fee paid for a defender in English football is £32m – Man City’s outlay for Eliaquim Mangala – yet reports suggest the Red Devils are ready to splash out a staggering £47m for the German World Cup winner.
But conflicting rumours hint that United don’t actually have such funds available for January, so a few bargains may be needed to repair Louis van Gaal’s creaking backline…
With that in mind, here are FIVE cheap-ish alternatives…
Reid may not be anywhere near the calibre of Hummels, but he is a decent Premier League defender and he will be going for a reasonable price this winter. The New Zealander has been in, arguably, the form of his career so far this season, with his commanding displays at the back having helped West Ham into a lofty fourth spot in the table after 11 games.
But with his contract due to expire at the end of 2014/15, Reis is rumoured to be stalling on signing an extension as he waits to see how genuine the interest from top clubs is ahead of January. United are in need of a centre-back and may be working with restricted funds… so this one makes some sense.
Juventus’ commanding centre-back Ogbonna has been on United’s agenda over the course of the past few months, with reports suggesting that Louis van Gaal is a fan of the Italy international. Strong, authoritative and quick, the Turin-based ace has all of the tools needed to be a top-class Premier League defender.
Ogbonna is unlikely to command a massive fee, with reports having suggested that Juve may listen to offers of around £12m-£15m for their man. One worth considering for Van Gaal, then.
Talk about underwhelming… but this rumour is actually gathering momentum. Vidic left United on a free transfer over the summer after a long and successful career at Old Trafford to join Inter Milan, where he has been an absolute disaster. The burly Serbian has made multiple high-profile errors for the San Siro side, and new manager Roberto Mancini is now rumoured to have deemed him ‘surplus to requirements’.
A return to familiar ground may be good for Vidic, who hasn’t become a bad player overnight. At 33, the former Red Devils captain is by no means a long-term option, but he is sure to add more stability than the likes of Blackett and McNair between January and the end of the season for a bargain fee.
Another ex-United star linked with a move back to the Theatre of Dreams is Pique. The current Barcelona star swapped Old Trafford for the Bernabeu earlier in his career – after initially leaving the Catalan giants to join the Red Devils as a youngster – and has enjoyed a fine spell with the club, picking up top honours such as La Liga titles and the Champions League.
But with Luis Enrique now manager and with Barca heading in a new direction, the centre-back has dropped out of the starting XI and is rumoured to be available for around £20m. Still in his peak years, Pique is a long-term option for a fraction of the fee Hummels would command.
A Julian Draxler and Howedes double swoop is a rumour to have done the rounds in the not too distant past, with the versatile German a player LVG is believed to admire. A centre-back by trade, the Schalke ace played at left-back as his nation won the World Cup, and looked to be a composed and authoritative character. Not a ‘big name’, but certainly one who could add more of a presence at the heart of United’s defence.