After months and months of speculation, Manchester United finally announced Jose Mourinho as their new manager this morning – replacing Louis van Gaal, who was sacked on Monday.
The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan gaffer’s CV boasts three Premier League titles and two Champions League titles, but he faces quite the rebuilding job at Old Trafford.
Indeed, the current Red Devils squad lacks true star quality – evident enough through their fifth-place finish in the Premier League this season – and is geared towards LVG’s much-maligned possession-based philosophy.
However, United are almost certain to hand Mourinho an unprecedented wad of cash for the summer transfer window, with some sources speculating an eye-watering £270million budget.
But who is in the new United manager’s transfer thoughts? Who are the likeliest rumoured targets to turn up at Old Trafford this summer? Squeezing the latest rumours into one easily digestible article, here’s a list of TEN targets almost certain to be on Mourinho’s shopping list.
Let’s start with the obvious – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish icon has already confirmed his departure from PSG on a free transfer, after firing them to four Ligue 1 titles with 113 goals across four campaigns, and some sources claim he’s already received a contract offer from Manchester United. Signing the veteran striker would be a huge statement of intent on the Red Devils’ part and the 34-year-old is already talking up his relationship with the Special One.
Manchester United’s need for an overhaul in the middle of the park could see Jose Mourinho turn to an old ally in Lassana Diarra, who he signed during his first Chelsea spell and later managed at Real Madrid. The tough-tackling enforcer has enjoyed a renaissance this season, muscling his way back into the France squad in time for Euro 2016 after a near-six-year absence, and through a contractual clause is available on a free transfer this summer. The Red Devils have already been linked.
Rumour has it Manchester United are already preparing a £60million bid for Willian and it’s not hard to see why. The industrious winger epitomised Jose Mourinho’s philosophy at Chelsea and has just come to the end of his strongest Blues campaign to date, bagging five goals and six assists in 35 Premier League outings. There’s a notable gap on the right of the Red Devils’ attack the Brazil international would more than adequately fill.
Jose Mourinho was rivalling Manchester United in the race to sign Marquinhos during his time as Chelsea manager, suggesting both the Portuguese and the Old Trafford hierarchy will be keen on signing the PSG starlet this summer. The 22-year-old has struggled to make his mark at Parc de Princes but remains highly rated, as a versatile and athletic defender who has already experienced high-profile games. Both clubs are chasing the Brazil international again this summer but face competition from Barcelona.
Joao Mario has found himself linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United in recent weeks following a strong season at Sporting Lisbon. The Portugal international is an energetic box-to-boxer who knows where the net is, notching up 14 over the last two seasons, but could set the Red Devils back as £45million through a release clause.
Manchester United haven’t been directly linked with Henrikh Mkhitaryan but Chelsea reportedly launched a £46million bid for the Borussia Dortmund star last summer and the Red Devils find themselves short of pacey attackers who can play out wide. The Armenian international’s combination of scintillating speed and technical ability saw him bag eleven goals and 15 assists in the Bundesliga this season and with his contract now verging upon its final twelve months, the Black-Yellows could be forced to sell on the cheap this summer.
Jose Mourinho was hot on John Stones’ heels during his time as Chelsea manager – launching a £37million bid last summer – and appears set to transition his interest over to the Manchester United job. The 21-year-old is one of the most exciting home-grown stars in the Premier League, boasting unique quality in possession for an English centre-half, and the Red Devils need a long-term partner to Chris Smalling. But recent reports claim he could set United back a whopping £45million.
It didn’t quite work out for him under Jose Mourinho but since leaving Chelsea in summer 2013, initially on loan, Romelu Lukaku has established himself as one of the top strikers in the Premier League. 60 goals in the last four seasons is a phenomenal return for a 23-year-old still learning his trade and the Belgium international fits the Special One’s usual profile of big-and-burly old-fashioned centre-forwards. But Everton are well aware of their star front-man’s appeal and accordingly value him at a whopping £65million.
Having flourished under a manager of similar ideals in Diego Simeone, Antoine Griezmann has been aligned to Jose Mourinho continuously throughout his potent spell at Atletico Madrid. The France international can play as a winger, a support striker or a front-man and in addition to boasting 57 goals in 106 appearances for the Mattress Makers, is famed for his industrious contributions defensively. The 25-year-old’s contract is known to include a £63million release clause.
A prime target for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and the one that somehow got away from Manchester United, Paul Pogba will undoubtedly be in the Portuguese’s transfer crosshairs this summer – even if an Old Trafford switch currently seems blindly optimistic. Indeed, the Juventus ace has established himself as one of the top central midfielders in world football, combining imposing physicality, flair on the ball and a regular supply of goals. The France international’s €100million valuation is within Manchester United’s reach but he seems unlikely to join a club who aren’t in the Champions League after reaching last season’s final with the Old Lady.