The start of a new Premier League season can only mean one thing – clubs up and down the country are now counting down to the close of the summer transfer window.
Summer deadline day is one of the most exciting events on the footballing calendar; a 24-hour period where even the most absurd of transfers seem completely plausible as Jim White yells out cliche after cliche with an ever-reddening face whilst fellow Sky Sports reporters stand in front of training grounds in the pouring rain for no reason at all giving five minute updates on absolutely nothing happening – not to forget Harry Redknapp’s customary car window appearance, as if he makes all of his signings at some sort of transfer drive-through.
We may be a few weeks ahead of schedule, but we at Football Fancast are so audacious that we’ve decided to predict four unexpected deadline day transfers Manchester United might get over the line just before the 11pm cut-off.
Can you see a few of these FOUR arriving at Old Trafford in the final hours of September 1st?
If there’s one major name still for the taking this summer, it’s probably Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze.
The German international is best famed for his superb winning volley in last summer’s World Cup final but at club level he’s really struggled to impact since swapping Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga champions in summer 2013.
Indeed, Pep Guardiola has often dropped the 23 year-old forward for Bayern’s most important fixtures and according to Gotze there’s been a bit of a communication breakdown between himself and the Allianz Arena boss.
Likewise, agent Volker Struth has declared his client is being ‘destroyed‘ by his rotating role in the Bayern squad and recently made the not so subtle hint that ‘anything could happen‘ between now and the end of the transfer window.
Manchester United aren’t exactly in need of a No.10 but Gotze’s arrival would certainly excite the fan base. Similarly, the German outfit are hardly short on numbers – in fact, they boast probably the most holistic squad in world football – so they can afford to wait until January to find a replacement.
Real Madrid are quickly running out of time to get their deal for David De Gea over the line. But in turn, Manchester United are running out of time to sign an adequate replacement.
Indeed, they’ve been linked with Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris but you can’t imagine the Lilywhites surrendering their No.1 in the final days of the transfer window without squeezing every penny possible from United. Likewise, whether the frankly unspectacular Jasper Cillessen is a genuine Old Trafford target or just a tabloid manifestation remains to be seen.
Resultantly, United could blindside recent speculation by taking a punt on Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno; a youthful ‘keeper at the age of 23 who, at the very least, will have some resale value.
The Germany U21 been first choice at the BayArena since 2011 and in that time has made 31 appearances in European competitions, so he’s by no means a complete novice. Likewise, he recorded the second-most clean sheets in the Bundesliga last season, with his 16 only surpassed by Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.
Would Leverkusen let Leno leave at the last minute? For the right price, perhaps. Bayer are hardly rolling in the benjamins and they have two international goalkeepers on their books – albeit one-cappers for the USA and Croatia – that could probably see them out until January.
If there’s still one glaring title-race-losing-shaped hole in Manchester United’s squad, it’s at the heart of defence. Louis van Gaal has been trying to address it all summer, but deals for Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, Schalke’s Benedikt Howedes and Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi just haven’t materialised.
Meanwhile, Jan Vertonghen has never quite rekindled the marauding form of his debut Premier League campaign, but needs must for the Red Devils and on his day, the Belgium international is one of the best centre-halves in the division.
His proven Premiership pedigree is a huge bonus, as is the 28 year-old’s ability to bring the ball out of defence and start passing moves from deep positions. LVG is determined to sign a ball-playing centre-back this summer and although Vertonghen’s all-round game might not be up there with some of the aforementioned names, he’s certainly progressive when on the ball.
Likewise, whilst Tottenham will be determined to hold onto Lloris, they may be forced into letting the 6 foot 2 centre-back go. He rejected a contract extension at the start of last season and with just two years remaining on his current deal, a bid between the £20million-£30million mark could oblige the Lilywhites to sell.
Louis van Gaal has consistently insisted upon his faith in Manchester United’s current forward options, particularly Wayne Rooney. But when comparing the Red Devils to the firepower on show at Chelsea and Manchester City, you feel they need another striker to be genuine contenders in this season’s title race.
And although Zlatan Ibrahimovic has alleged working under LVG, who served as Director of Football during his prodigious spell at Ajax, would be a ‘big problem‘, I still see plenty of scope for this potential deal to happen.
After all, the Premier League is one of the few remaining challenges the 33 year-old is yet to test himself against throughout his trophy-laden career, and as Peter Schmeichel quipped back in March, Zlatan’s always seemed destined to represent the Red Devils at some point – echoing the short but successful spell of compatriot Henrik Larsson back in 2007.
Similarly, there’s murmurings that PSG would sell this summer if the price is right; the 6 foot 5 striker’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he’s already been informed that the club don’t intend to offer a new deal.
He’s certainly the kind of signing that would energise the fan base and strike fear into the hearts of United’s title rivals. Whether van Gaal is prepared to work with the Sweden international following some strong remarks in his 2013 autobiography, however, remains to be seen.