We are now eleven days into the January transfer window and so far it’s been, well… incredibly uneventful.
Indeed, all twenty Premier League clubs have made just ten signings combined this month – only three of which have joined teams in the top half of the table.
But in many ways, that’s almost beside the point. The winter window rarely throws up big-money deals, yet the sensationalist reporting ever-accompanying it allows fans to consider what their team might look like with a handful of the tabloids’ rumoured targets added to their starting line-up.
With that in mind, Football FanCast are taking a look at FIVE La Liga stars Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal would love to bring to Old Trafford this month, amid the Red Devils’ slump to fifth in the league table.
Transfer fees and prior commitments might stand in the way of a winter move but nonetheless, the Dutchman would be over the moon if these FIVE turned up at Carrington before the January window slams shut…
Since first featuring for Athletic Bilbao’s first team last season, winger-forward Inaki Williams has emerged as one of the most exciting youngsters in La Liga.
The 6 foot 1 prodigy is still a little rough around the edges but combines immense natural athleticism with a consistent supply of goals, netting nine times in 20 appearances across all competitions this term – including a La Liga return of six in 14.
That form saw Williams muscle his way into Spain’s U21 team during 2015 and he’d certainly address the Red Devils’ desperate lack of energy and dynamism in the final third.
The 21-year-old is thoroughly enjoying his football at San Memes but with his contract set to expire in 2017, a decent bid this month could convince Bilbao to sell.
Athletic Bilbao are one of La Liga’s best when it comes to producing talented youngsters, which is why yet another has found his way onto this list in the form of in-demand centre-back Aymeric Laporte.
The 21-year-old is widely regarded as one of the promising defenders in world football, having already registered an impressive amount of appearances for a player so young, 119 across all competitions alongside 50 at youth level for France, and held down a starring role in the Bilbao first team since the start of the 2013/14 campaign.
In terms of style, the 6 foot 2 defender is loosely comparable to Everton’s John Stones, combining impressive last-ditch defending with a sharp turn of pace and immense quality on the ball.
Every major European club, ranging from Manchester City to Barcelona, have been linked with Laporte over the last few years. It seems inevitable that he’ll move on at some point over the next few transfer windows, but Bilbao have protected their prodigy’s value with a €50million release clause.
Having proved himself equally adept as a winger a centre-forward throughout his La Liga career, Antoine Griezmann could kill to transfer birds with one stone for the Red Devils – who are lacking both energy out wide and killer instinct in front of goal.
Indeed, the France international earned his summer 2014 move to Atletico Madrid after performing minor miracles as Real Sociedad’s talismanic wideman, playing a pivotal role in their rise from the Spanish second tier to the Champions League.
But since moving to Vincente Calderon, the 24-year-old has transformed himself into a potent centre-forward, netting 39 times in 78 appearances across all competitions. That includes four goals in the Champions League and ten strikes in La Liga this season.
Famed for the industrious and tenacity that has become synonymous with Diego Simeone’s side, whilst also offering great speed and stamina, Griezmann has often been mooted as naturally suited to Premier League football.
Convincing Atletico to part with their prized asset will cost a sizeable sum, however, and the French forward’s release clause reportedly stands at a whopping €80million.
Rafa Benitez’s abrupt sacking as Real Madrid boss earlier this month has once again sparked rumours of Gareth Bale returning to the Premier League – with Manchester United in the frame to launch a £90million bid next summer.
Needless to say, the Wales international is one of the most formidable attacking threats in world football, boasting brute athleticism, netting prowess and technical trickery in almost equal measure, and more than proved his Premier League pedigree during his PFA Player of the Year-winning campaign at Tottenham Hotspur.
The 26-year-old is currently enjoying arguably his strongest form to date since moving to the Bernabeu for a record-breaking £87million in summer 2013, bagging 13 goals and seven assists in 14 La Liga appearances this season despite Los Blancos’ largely underwhelming 2015/16 campaign.
But the Welshman reportedly sees himself as a more central threat – preferring the No.10 role that helped him flourish at White Hart Lane – which may complicate the chances of an Old Trafford move. A return to the Premier League this month has been ruled out by most sources.
Now widely viewed as the third-best player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United understandably have a vested interest in Neymar’s immediate future at Barcelona.
Indeed, stat enthusiasts Whoscored.com rate the Brazil international as the best performer across Europe’s leading top flights this season with an average rating of 8.7, in no small part due to his 15 goals and seven assists in just 16 La Liga outings..
The Red Devils reportedly launched a bid for the 23-year-old last summer and are continuing to monitor how developments unfold at the Nou Camp.
Allegations of tax fraud have thrown contract negotiations into jeopardy and the winger-forward is reportedly concerned that he’ll never lift the Ballon d’Or whilst playing in the same team as four-time winner Lionel Messi.
A January move seems pretty much impossible, however, so United will have to wait until the summer to have another crack at making Neymar the new poster boy at Old Trafford.