The Premier League shelled out a combined £175million last month, making it one of the most expensive January transfer windows of all time, to push the division’s spending during the 2015/16 season to a record-breaking £1.045billion.
Surprisingly absent from all the cash-splashing action, however, was Manchester United. Five points off a Champions League spot, lacking depth at the back and quality in attack, the majority of fans are a little bemused as to how the Red Devils ended up being just one of two Premier League clubs – along with relegation-bound Aston Villa – who failed to sign a single player.
But recruitment is now a year-long process at the majority of clubs in world football and although United finished the January window empty-handed, they may have laid the blueprint for several deals to take place during the summer.
With that in mind, here are Manchester United’s FIVE January transfer sagas that look set to continue in the offseason window.
He’s been billed as ‘the new Ronaldinho’ and could reportedly cost Manchester United anything up to his £59million release clause.
Indeed, Renato Sanches has rapidly emerged as one of Europe’s most exciting youngsters – although it wasn’t long ago people were calling Benfica team-mate Goncalo Guedes the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ – and Manchester United allegedly want him, probably to play alongside ‘the new Thierry Henry’ and resultantly transform themselves into ‘the new Barcelona’.
But a deal for the 18-year-old was never going to happen mid-season, when United would’ve had to pay a premium to convince the Primeira Liga outfit to sell, despite late window murmurings of a £22million deal.
The last thing the Red Devils need is an overhyped teenager suddenly thrown into the mix, but they’re expected to return for the Portugal U19 midfielder at the end of the season.
Manchester United were courting Saido Mane last summer, after he notched up ten goals during his debut Premier League campaign, and were linked with him again in the build-up to the January transfer window.
The Senegal international’s output may be a little inconsistent but he represents exactly what the Red Devils currently lack in the final third – dynamism, penetrative pace and the ability to run past the centre-forward.
Southampton, however, made it clear on several occasions that they would not be selling their talismanic attacker in January, with Ronald Koeman claiming none of his players would leave St. Mary’s – even if the club received a £100million bid.
But after two windows of heavy interest from United and other major European clubs, the Saints are almost certain to sell Mane in the summer when his contract will have entered its final two years. The 23-year-old has made it clear he won’t sign a new deal.
As news of Real Madrid’s impending transfer ban hit the rest of Europe, some sources claimed Real Madrid would launch a swoop for long-time target David De Gea, who infamously missed out on a Bernabeu switch during the summer.
The alleged bid never materialised but a summer move still seems relatively likely, providing Los Blancos manage to delay their twelve-month embargo until after the next transfer window as planned.
After all, De Gea is one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, is known to be very keen on playing for Real Madrid and allegedly has a £35million release clause included in his contract. Manchester United meanwhile, could end up missing out on Champions League football by the end of May.
A bid next summer – especially as Real Madrid look to rebuild before spending a year out of the transfer market – seems somewhat inevitable.
Pretty much every major club in Europe – including Manchester United – was linked with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the January transfer window, in no small part due to his rather sensational return of 18 goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances from the first half of the season.
Quick, powerful and increasingly lethal in front of goal, the Gabon international has often been mooted as a good fit for the Premier League, so with Dortmund reportedly valuing him at £42million, he seemed well worth the investment.
But the 26-year-old consistently insisted he wouldn’t be on the move in January, claiming that he was ‘not at Arsenal, not at Barcelona and not on the moon‘, and that quickly proved to be the case.
But Aubameyang could undergo a change of heart at the end of the season, once Dortmund inevitably miss out on the Bundesliga title and many of their key players – including Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan – will have just a year left on their contracts.
The problem for United, however, is that competition for the winger-forward’s services remains fierce. Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona and Chelsea – to name a few – have all been credited with interest.
Another striker linked with a Manchester United move last month was PSG’s Edinson Cavani – most notably after manager Laurent Blanc not-so-subtly hinted he’d be prepared to part with the Uruguay international.
There were rumours of last-minute talks with the Red Devils amid their need for added firepower. The 28-year-old is one of world football’s best in that regard, boasting incredible returns of 104 goals in 138 appearances for former club Napoli and 69 in 120 for the Parisians, but a deal always seemed likelier to take place in the summer.
By that point, the 72-cap international will have just two years remaining on his contract and PSG will have a whole transfer window to find a viable replacement, rather than spend the second half of the season entirely dependent on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But Cavani is no spring chicken at the age of 28 and even if PSG do look to offload during the summer, United might turn to younger alternatives instead.