Once again, Manchester United seem to be lost at sea. Despite hundreds of millions spent under Louis van Gaal, the side look no closer to challenging for the Premier League. The 3-1 win over Liverpool created a buzz of excitement, which was quickly dampened in the 2-1 reversal away to PSV.
With Luke Shaw suffering a horrendous injury during the clash in Holland, United’s need to act in the January sales is highlighted. Now lacking cover at left-back, the need for a centre-half and another striker is clear.
Though Anthony Martial sent fans into overdrive with a stunning debut goal, Wayne Rooney’s lack of form means it’s risky to rely on just the two men to lead the line. Memphis Depay has looked good in Europe so far, but his Premier League struggles have been well documented.
The Red Devils’ back line has been the subject of much discussion for almost two years now, but the improvement of Chris Smalling, as well as Shaw pre-injury, and the addition of Matteo Darmian has somewhat solidified it.
Still, a top class partner for Smalling could help. So here are are five players van Gaal should consider in January…
The Juventus striker is likely to have already endeared himself to the United faithful with his long range winner at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.
The Spanish striker can provide help as a traditional Number 9, with Martial untried in the role as of yet and Rooney struggling to revert. Huge money has been spent on the former Monaco man, so it’s likely he will get his chance, but even if he takes to it like a duck to water, he could still do with some help.
The Frenchman can offer searing pace, able to scare defenders by running directly at them. Captain Rooney can play most roles, but is naturally inclined to drop deep. Morata runs the channels, lurks around the box and provides a real poachers instinct.
The one that got away from Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese rarely doesn’t get what he wants, but Everton stood firm and kept the young England star. N
ow linked with Real Madrid, he has not let a summer of speculation away effect his performances.
The classy centre-half is likely to be Smalling’s partner at international level going forward, and the pair looked comfortable together in the Three Lions’ win over Switzerland.
The Toffees proved to be no pushovers in the saga, but with the money available to van Gaal, may be able to make them an offer they can’t refuse. A backline of Darmian, Smalling, Stones and Shaw (when he returns) is a strong, youthful and composed one.
The Bayer Leveruksen man was linked with a deadline day switch to Old Trafford, though the move never came to fruition.
The 21-year is old renowned for his free-kicks, and has drawn comparisons to Mesut Ozil. At times, the Red Devils have looked to plod along at one pace, and the young Turkish star could inject creativity.
Juan Mata, Calhanoglu and Memphis Depay could operate behind either Rooney or Martial, floating behind the main man, pulling the strings.
Reports have emerged implying Barcelona defender Adriano could be set for a move to Manchester. The 30-year old Brazilian star is way down the pecking order in Spain, and can operate both centrally and on the left.
With Shaw out for a while, signing a player of Adriano’s prestige can only be a good thing. Perhaps he isn’t a world class defender, but a solid option in both the first team and deeper squad.
Able to perform adequately with both feet, the full-back could even be deployed in a midfield role should van Gaal wish to switch things up.
The PSG defender was the subject of a last ditch deadline day bid from Chelsea, though the Parisians stood firm.
The young Brazilian star is versatile, plying his trade either on the right of defence or more centrally. Other than Rapheal Varane he is perhaps the classiest young defender in Europe, and if PSG are to slip up in the Champions League again, could seek a move.
Any deal is likely to be expensive, but the 21-year old can finally replace Rio Ferdinand as the ball playing centre-half at Old Trafford. A long term investment, seeing the Selecao star in the Theatre of Dreams for many years to come would be a welcome addition to the Premier League.
Perhaps the most left-field of these suggestions, the controversial Togolese titan would certainly be a gamble. Having recently been released by Tottenham Hotspur, he is available on a free in the New Year.
His past with both Man City and Arsenal are unlikely to make him the most popular of choices but the January market is notably hard to land top targets. Should van Gaal be short of options, there aren’t many players the same quality as the 30-year old African knocking about for free.
A six-month deal until the end of the season could be an option if the Red Devils are failing to fire as 2016 begins.