For the majority of Premier League fans, the January transfer window is a time of great excitement – providing the chance to imagine what might be if their club lands a select few of the many transfer targets rumoured in the tabloids.
For the majority of Premier League clubs, however, the January transfer window is a rather dangerous place laced with booby-traps; big money flops in disguise as superstars, mercurial starlets primed to become panic buys and trusted veterans who secretly only have eyes for a final pay day.
Manchester United have been tipped to spend big this month, as the Red Devils look to buy their way back into the Premier League title race after slipping into fifth place – nine points behind table-toppers Arsenal.
So amid rumours of Louis van Gaal launching a £215million spending spree, here are FOUR rumoured January targets the Old Trafford outfit should steer well clear of…
Fulham striker Moussa Dembele certainly seems like a talented prospect, notching up nine goals in 20 Championship starts for the Cottagers this season.
Furthermore, the 19-year-old could be available at relatively low cost this month with his contract set to expire at the end of the campaign – essentially forcing the west Londoners to sell in January or face the uncertainty of a tribunal deciding his compensation fee.
The fear, however, is that the prodigious striker will be thrust into the limelight at Old Trafford a little too soon. Anthony Martial has impressed since his £36million move in the summer but too much responsibility is still placed on the 19-year-old’s shoulders; it could be a similar case with Dembele, and the former PSG youngster is nowhere near Martial’s level yet.
Perhaps a loan back agreement could be worked out. But with bigger fish to fry this month, Manchester United’s attentions should be focused elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, Matt Ritchie is a decent footballer – and it’s always good to see British talents with technical flair doing well in the Premier League.
He was one of the driving forces behind Bournemouth’s promotion to the top flight last season, bagging 15 goals and 17 assists, and has continued to impress in the Premier League.
In fact, he’s been arguably the Cherries’ best player this season, starting all of their 20 league games to produce two strikes and three set-ups.
But is the Scotland international really at Manchester United’s standard? I’m not so convinced. His quality has only been evident in short spurts this season rather than over a consistent period.
Furthermore, Ritchie lacks athleticism and penetrative pace – which is exactly what United should be looking for in attacking targets this month – and Eddie Howe’s side won’t sell unless a ridiculous fee is involved.
No doubt, every Premier League fan has enjoyed Jamie Vardy’s goalscoring exploits this season, earning a place in the annals of Premier League history by setting a new record of scoring in eleven consecutive fixtures.
Yet, the England international is the walking definition of a flash in the pan and his incredible form will surely come to an end at some point. In fact, it’s already showing signs of petering out – with just one goal in his last six Premier League appearances.
No doubt, there are advantages to signing the former non-league this month, most particularly that his King Power Stadium departure would seriously weaken Leicester City’s chances of claiming a top four spot.
But turning 29 later this month and valued by the tabloids at around the £25million mark, there are surely less risky solutions to the Red Devils’ lack of goals.
Over the last few seasons, Wolfsburg star Ricardo Rodriguez has emerged as one of the most exciting full-backs in Europe.
Indeed, the 23-year-old has claimed 13 goals and 19 assists in his last 96 Bundesliga outings – including two strikes in 12 appearances this season. He’s a set piece specialist and the epitome of the in-vogue false full-back – but do Manchester United really need another top-class No.3 on their books?
Of course, Luke Shaw has been sorely missed already this season and it’s understandable that the Red Devils might want to find a replacement left-back for the rest of the campaign. But Rodriguez is hot property right now and tied down at the Volkswagen Arena until 2019; he could well cost United somewhere in the region of £20million-£30million.
Likewise, his arrival would create a rather difficult situation when Shaw returns from injury, with both more than capable of holding down United’s No.3 berth singlehanded.