Manchester United’s summer transfer policy, a simple case of buying any world-class attacker they could get their hands on, regardless of price, availability or room in the squad, spawned one of the best puns of the off-season – the Gaalacticos.
Of course, the cheeky quip combines the name of the Red Devils’ new gaffer, the weird-n-wacky Louis van Gaal, with Real Madrid’s transfer policy in the early 2000s that saw them splash out unprecedented fortunes on David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka and later, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The former Premier League champs spent a whopping £150million this summer, but seemingly excluded from the burdens of Financial Fair Play, they’re expected to flex their muscles in the market once again when it reopens in January.
Thus, here’s FIVE more ‘Gaalacticos’ United could snap up.
In what would constitute a rather stunning January transfer, the tabloids claim Manchester United are plotting a move for Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique:
— English Football (@footieengland) October 21, 2014
Louis van Gaal desperately requires top quality reinforcements at the heart of his defence and the Spain international knows the club well, having previously spent four seasons at Old Trafford after being prized away from Barca’s famous La Masia youth system.
Of course, his more notable successes have come with the Catalans, winning four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues – in addition to a European Championship and World Cup with La Roja – since returning to the Nou Camp in 2008. Here’s a look at the 27 year-old in action:
Famed for his front-footed style and quality in possession, Pique would be a perfect fit for van Gaal’s progressive philosophy. He’s also trying to implement a high defensive line at United – something the Spaniard is more than acquainted with.
Considered to be one of the top centre-backs in world football and still enjoying his peak years however, one would assume that Barca want to hold onto him.
But he’s only started four times in La Liga this season out of a possible eight, as viewable below, with new manager Luis Enrique preferring Javier Mascherano and summer signing Jeremy Mathieu.
Resultantly, United believe they can lure Pique away in a £20million deal.
Should the Pique pursuit come to no avail, could Manchester United be convinced into launching a bid for Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen?
The Belgium international’s White Hart Lane future is in serious doubt after ending contract negotiations without signing a new deal:
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) September 25, 2014
The 27 year-old is widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s top centre-backs and his front-footed style epitomises Louis van Gaal’s attacking ethos, much like Gerard Pique. In truth, the Red Devils should have been targeting him months ago.
Vertonghen gained such status in England through marauding displays during his inaugural Premier League season, finishing up with seven goals in all competitions. Here’s a look at his stats from the 2012/13 campaign:
Intriguingly, Mauricio Pochettino left Vertonghen out of the starting line-up to face Manchester City on Saturday, suggesting the Lilywhites could already be preparing for life without him.
Chairman Daniel Levy is known for his persistent refusal to let Tottenham’s star players leave for rival Premier League clubs, but he could be forced to make an exception for the Belgian centre-half, considering recent developments.
A likely transfer fee would be around £20million. Here’s a look at Vertonghen in action:
Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus will unquestionably become the most sought-after player of summer 2015, when his ridiculously cheap £20million release clause comes into effect.
But Manchester United would be wise to try and beat the pack by launching a slightly more lucrative bid for the German international in January; the Red Devils squad is already overloaded with exemplary attacking talent, but none quite like Reus.
Indeed, he absolutely destroyed the Bundesliga last season, as detailed below, earning him the division’s Player of the Year award for the second time in three years:
The 25 year-old can adopt the roles of scorer or provider, capable of playing anywhere across the front or at No.10. His technical qualities are world-class but underpinned by incredible pace – something the current United squad desperately lacks. Here’s a look at Reus in action:
Should Manchester United launch a bid in January however, there will undoubtedly be huge competition for Reus’ signature. Even Bayern Munich look poised to make an offer:
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) October 20, 2014
Another La Liga defender that would certainly fit the ‘Gaalactico’ blueprint, being essentially a ‘Galactico’ already, is Real Madrid’s Marcelo. The No.3 has surprisingly been linked with an Old Trafford switch over the last few days:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 21, 2014
The Brazil international is amongst the most flamboyant full-backs in world football, famed for his contribution and flair going forward, as shown below:
He pops up with the occasional belter too – check out Marcelo’s top five goals:
And word has it that Los Blancos are prepared to let the 26 year-old leave in January, as they target Bayern Munich ace Daniel Alaba, reportedly disillusioned with his role at the Allianz Arena.
— Express Football (@ExpressFootball) October 20, 2014
Marcelo would certainly be an impressive addition, but how much can Manchester United justifiably spend on another left-back after acquiring Luke Shaw for a record-breaking £30million this summer?
Another Real Madrid ‘Galactico’ who could be looking for a new home in January comes in the form of Sami Khedira, whose availability has already caught the attention of several Premier League sides:
Man Utd plan to outbid Arsenal, Chelsea with bumper Khedira contract offer http://t.co/HxgT8LugwK
— Tribal Football (@tribalfootball) October 20, 2014
Indeed, a Champions League and World Cup winner, the German international is considered to be one of the leading central midfielders in world football, but his contract has entered its final year and a new deal is looking increasingly unlikely.
Manchester United certainly need some added tenacity in the middle of the park and the 27 year-old is more than capable of providing it, famed for his powerful, aerially dominant 6 foot 2 frame and endless energy. Just take a gander at his heat map from Germany’s 7-1 semi-final romping of World Cup hosts Germany:
That stamina and strength would compliment United’s attacking talent perfectly – Here’s a look at Khedira in action: