Manchester United’s pursuit of Gareth Bale has become one of English football’s most hotly-discussed topics since rumours of an Old Trafford switch first surfaced earlier in the season.
Indeed, the Red Devils need a wide-man and the Real Madrid star fits the bill perfectly, boasting incredible athleticism, talismanic firepower and a proven track record in the Premier League.
Unfortunately, however, it appears the European champions aren’t actually that interested in selling their world-record £87million signing this summer.
Despite having to bear the brunt of the supporters’ wrath following a disappointing El Clasico performance in March, Real Madrid have continually denied Bale will be put on the transfer market this summer, and reports from Mirror Football claim the Bernabeu outfit have already rejected a bid from Chelsea.
So with the summer window looming in, perhaps it’s time the Red Devils began considering some viable alternatives to the former Tottenham star. And just in case they’re short on ideas, we’ve listed FIVE…
Spain international Pedro has been part of the Barcelona tapestry for some time, claiming four La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and 97 goals in 310 appearances with the Catalan giants – in addition to lifting the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European championship with La Roja.
But the 27 year-old’s Nou Camp tenure could come to an abrupt end this summer; there’s only a year remaining on his contract and the winger-forward’s game time has been slashed since the £75million arrival of Luis Suarez at the start of the campaign, going on to make just 13 starts out of a possible 32 in La Liga.
Alexis Sanchez has lit up the Premier League since moving to Arsenal from Barcelona last summer and his former team-mate has the capacity to do the same, blessed with a similar blend of tenacity, technical quality and netting prowess.
According to The Metro, he could be available for around £22million, but unable to sign a replacement until January 2016 due to their transfer embargo, Barcelona may refuse to sell.
A transfer target Manchester United have already made some headway in signing, reports from the Manchester Evening News this morning claim Memphis Depay has arrived in England to hold talks with the Red Devils.
Much like Gareth Bale, the Netherlands international is a goal-scoring winger often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, and after a sensational season with PSV is widely expected to leave the Eindhoven outfit this summer.
Indeed, since his nomination for the Best Young Player award at last summer’s World Cup, the 21 year-old has bagged 20 goals in 27 league appearances, firing him to the top of the Eredivisie’s scoring charts and PSV to their first Dutch title since 2008.
He’s a prodigious talent who already has experience working under Louis van Gaal, and the papers believe his price-tag stands at a more than reasonable £25million.
Manchester United came close to signing Lucas Moura in summer 2013 and would be well-advised to revive their interest in the Brazilian prodigy after an impressive campaign 2014/15 with PSG.
Indeed, the 22 year-old has claimed seven goals and four assists in 25 Ligue 1 appearances this term, whilst averaging the most dribbles per-match, 3.3, of any player in the division.
In addition to the Brazil international’s promising output, it’s his electric pace that particularly stands out. United have lacked a threat behind opposition defences for large periods of the season, but Moura would address that in abundance.
According to a recent report from The Metro, stalled contract talks could force the Ligue 1 champions to cash-in on the winger this summer as they refuse to meet his demands of a £4.3million per-year deal.
The British newspaper also claim PSG value him within the region of £28million.
Marco Reus may have signed a contract extension earlier this season, eradicating his miserly £25million release clause, but Borussia Dortmund’s failure to qualify for the Champions League – and the subsequent sacking of manager Jurgen Klopp – could see him leave the Westfalen outfit this summer.
The 25 year-old is undoubtedly one of the most formidable attacking threats in world football, boasting an incredible 37 goals and 27 assists in his last 79 Bundesliga appearances.
He’s quick, technically sublime and incredibly versatile, capable of playing anywhere across the attacking midfield berth or the front-line, quenching Louis van Gaal’s undying first for ‘multi-functional’ footballers.
Having extended his terms until 2019, however, Dortmund are no under no immediate obligation to sell. Resultantly, they could charge anything up to £50million for the German international this summer.
It would go down as one of the most controversial transfers in Premier League history but there are few better prospects in Europe at the minute than Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling.
After all, few attacking midfielders can boast 18 goals and 14 assists in the Premier League at just 20 years of age – not to mention the European Golden Boy award for his role in Liverpool’s surprise title bid last season.
But what impresses me most about the England international is his devotion to development; this season he’s featured in five different positions for the Reds and performed well in all of them, ranging from right wing-back to false nine.
He’s yet another multi-functional footballer Louis van Gaal would love and although some view Sterling as too young to leave Anfield this summer, I’d argue the exact opposite. He’s registered the most goals, chances created per match, successful dribbles per match and second-most assists of any player in a fifth-place Liverpool side.
Impressive stuff, but in addition to all the inevitable controversy of becoming the first player to directly move between Liverpool and Manchester United since Phil Chisnall in 1964, the Red Devils would have to pay £50million – according to The Telegraph.