Manchester United’s season has been a curious case of underperformance and reasonable results.
Despite the very public disdain among the fan base at the style of football being player, the Red Devils sit just three points adrift of fourth spot, and in this crazy season a couple of weekends could see that gap between themselves and Spurs swung entirely.
As well as this Louis van Gaal storming out of a pre-Christmas press conference amid widespread reports that Jose Mourinho was all but sat in his seat in the Old Trafford dugout, so one could be forgiven for believing that there’s a full-on crisis at the Theatre of Dreams.
Alas, there is not, and with the January transfer window now wide open (it’s never merely open) a club with United’s spending power can surely take advantage of the month-long hullabaloo to add a few choice players.
With that in mind, here are FIVE potential signings that could get the club’s season back on track and reduce LVG’s spiralling blood pressure!
While names such as Neymar and James Rodriguez may bounce through United fans’ heads as ‘dream additions’, the likelihood of either player – or those of a similar ilk – switching clubs mid-season is unlikely. The Red Devils, then, will be shopping in the tier below, but that does not mean that the quality of the options available to LVG is worth overlooking, with Lazio’s Anderson an intriguing name in the mix.
A sheer ‘no smoke without fire’ approach suggests that interest from Old Trafford in the Brazilian is genuine given that he was persistently linked with a move from Rome to Manchester throughout the summer, and with reports of a £35m January deal circulating this could be the time the 22-year-old gets his switch.
Van Gaal has already admitted that he needs more pace and creativity in his ranks, and with Anderson having notched 14 goals and eight assists with his fleet-footed style of play since the start of 2014/15 in Serie A, he looks tailor-made for the task at hand.
But, the last Brazilian named Anderson signed by United may have scarred a few at the Theatre of Dreams
United struggle to score goals, so a sure fire remedy for this is to sign the Premier League’s hottest goalscorer, right? Well reports claim that the Red Devils are keeping an eye on Lukaku, who is now level with Jamie Vardy at the top of the division’s scoring charts with 15 goals, nine of which have come in his last nine games – albeit he didn’t net in Sunday’s crunch match with Spurs.
Lukaku has his critics – some say he’s not mobile enough, while others have questioned his composure and work rate in the past – but at 22, there is still plenty of time to fulfil the ‘new Didier Drogba’ moniker he was bestowed with when he joined Chelsea as a teenager.
United lack a player of Lukaku’s power and presence to lead the line, and although Everton are doubtful to be open to selling their record signing Van Gaal is likely to, as he has been in the past, be handed the sort of cash to force through a move.
When United fielded a back four consisting of Paddy McNair, Daley Blind, Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at Bournemouth, it became worryingly clear that Van Gaal hasn’t got the options he would like available to him in defence.
Throughout his reign injuries and the exits of certain players have forced him to shuffle his back four, with Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo – a defensive midfielder and left-back, by trade – often employed as central options, which is far from ideal.
Reports claim that a centre-back remains one of the Dutchman’s priorities, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos an option.
The Brazilian is currently behind compatriots David Luiz and Thiago Silva in the French capital and if speculation is to be believed this has left him feeling frustrated for much of the last 18 months. The 21-year-old is known for his class on the ball and pace, which could be ideal for LVG, whose midfield has looked a little short of ideas.
Despite Southampton’s inflating demands – which apparently stand at in excess of £60m – Mane remains a realistic target for the Manchester heavyweights. The Senegal international is the latest signing to carve out a decent reputation in the Premier League with the Saints, with his pace and direct playing style having made him a threat teams now take very seriously on trips to St Mary’s.
Although a little inconsistent, Mane possesses the speed United currently lack in the final third and could be the man to get beyond an increasingly static Wayne Rooney.
Linked with United since… well… seemingly forever, the German is once again a target for the current window.
A classy, deep-lying playmaker, Gundogan possesses the sort of spark that the defensively responsible Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin lack, and appears to be a better calibre of player than current Old Trafford passer, Ander Herrera.
Although injuries have been a concern when it comes to the 25-year-old in recent seasons, he appears to have recovered from the niggles that ruined his 2014/15 and kept him out of the last World Cup and is once again a key man in an impressive Dortmund side.