Worth an astronomical £531m – Man United’s transfer target XI

With just two Premier League fixtures and the FA Cup final remaining, the summer transfer window is starting to loom over Old Trafford.

And it is currently one of great mystery for Manchester United fans; will Louis van Gaal still be on the hot seat or replaced by Jose Mourinho? Will the club break it’s spending records for the umpteenth summer in a row? What calibre of players can the club attract after another season out of the title race and potentially a 2016/17 campaign without Champions League football?

Consequentially, reports linking the Red Devils with audacious swoops for Europe’s best and most promising talents are hardly in short supply. In fact, there’s been so many in recent weeks that we at FootballFanCast have managed to create a select XI of alleged targets, utilising LVG’s much-maligned 3-5-2 formation.

According to tabloid valuations and our calculations, this transfer target XI would set United back an eye-watering £531million – not that we’re expecting the Old Trafford outfit to sign all of them this summer!

GOALKEEPER – JACK BUTLAND

Swansea City v Stoke City - Barclays Premier League
Rumours of David De Gea swapping the Red Devils for Real Madrid have persisted since his failed move to the Bernabeu last summer, consequentially leading to continuous speculation over who could replace the Spain international between the Old Trafford sticks – with Stoke City’s Jack Butland linked in January.

Had the England international not picked up a season-ending injury in March, it’s likely he would’ve claimed De Gea’s spot in the PFA Team of the Season, boasting 81 saves and ten clean sheets from his 31 Premier League outings. Having recently extended his Potters contract until 2021, however, he would likely set United back more than the £20million sum previously mooted by BBC Sport.

RIGHT CENTRE-BACK – JOHN STONES

Everton v Crystal Palace - Barclays Premier League
Despite coming under criticism for the enthusiasm in which he attempts to build from the back, John Stones remains the most sought-after defender in the Premier League, boasting rare speed, agility and flair for an English centre-half.

United will be desperate to source a long-term partner for Chris Smalling this summer and the 21-year-old seemingly fits the bill. But United’s interest is reportedly rivalled by Manchester City and Barcelona – and Everton are determined to hold out for a blockbuster transfer fee around the £50million mark.

CENTRE-BACK – RAPHAEL VARANE

Varane
Recent reports have claimed Raphael Varane is considering leaving Real Madrid this summer after finding himself benched for both legs of the Champions League semi-final, inevitably leading to rumours that Manchester United could swoop for the prodigious France international this summer.

They will only increase in volume if Jose Mourinho replaces Louis van Gaal in the coming weeks, having signed the 23-year-old as Bernabeu boss and described him as the ‘best young defender in the world‘ whilst in charge at Chelsea. The Portuguese was reportedly willing to splash out £40million for the centre-half last summer and it seems unlikely Los Blancos would surrender him for less.

LEFT CENTRE-BACK – MARQUINHOS

Marquinhos 1
Finishing off an incredibly youthful backline is PSG defender Marquinhos, who has failed to claim a regular starting role over countrymen Thiago Silva and David Luiz over the last two seasons – accordingly affecting his status within the Brazil fold.

Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal were all linked with the 21-year-old earlier this week amid claims he’s demanding a summer exit from the French capital. But having reportedly snubbed a £33million bid from the Blues last summer, PSG won’t be letting the South American leave on the cheap.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – N’GOLO KANTE

Leicester City v West Ham United - Barclays Premier League
Amid accusations his Leicester City contract includes a £20million release clause, Manchester United are one of the clubs reportedly in the frame to snap up title-winning enforcer N’Golo Kante.

Needless to say, the France international has been a revelation since signing from Caen last summer, combining directness and drive on the counter-attack with the most tackles and most interceptions per match of any Premier League player this season. But a host of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, have been linked in recent weeks.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – TONI KROOS

Real Madrid v Sevilla - UEFA Super Cup 2014
Rumour has it Toni Kroos will look to leave Real Madrid this summer, with Manchester United the leading candidates to take him off the Spanish giants’ hands. Many view the German international as the top central midfielder in world football, having lifted a Champions League title in 2013, a World Cup in 2014 and famed for his incredibly precise brand of playmaking.

Consequentially, however, the 26-year-old certainly won’t be available at a discount this summer, especially considering his Bernabeu contract doesn’t expire for another four years. Recent reports have speculated a summer bid around the £39million mark and that certainly seems like the right ballpark.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD – JAMES RODRIGUEZ

Japan v Colombia - FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 - Group C
James Rodriguez hasn’t quite met expectations since signing for Real Madrid after the 2014 World Cup, where he’d claimed the Golden Boot with Colombia, particularly struggling for form under current gaffer Zinedine Zidane. Rumour has it Los Blancos are ready to cut their losses on the stocky attacking midfielder, should a club meet their £60million valuation this summer.

Chelsea and Manchester United are both in the frame and although the 24-year-old has struggled to impress in the Spanish capital, his return of 20 goals and 21 assists 54 La Liga appearances for Real Madrid is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.

RIGHT WING – NEYMAR

Arsenal v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg
Barcelona’s continued failure to extend Neymar’s contract beyond 2018 will only exacerbate Manchester United’s long-standing interest in the Brazil international as the transfer window draws closer, having allegedly launched a release-clause-activating £145million bid last summer.

Needless to say, the winger-forward remains one of the most potent attacking threats in world football, boasting 84 goals and umpteen more assists in 139 appearances since moving to the Nou Camp from Santos three summers ago. But the 24-year-old still appears more than content with life at Barcelona and the club remain optimistic that he’ll sign a new deal.

LEFT WING – ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

Griezmann
Manchester United were hot on Antoine Griezmann’s heels last summer and the rumours have sprouted once again ahead of the coming transfer window. The Atletico Madrid star is a potent, hardworking and versatile forward, having gained notoriety as Real Sociedad’s talismanic winger but established himself as an out-and-out striker since moving to Vicente Calderon in 2014, where he has gone on to bag 56 goals in 104 appearances.

The France international’s contract includes a £63million release clause and the Red Devils are reportedly prepared to activate it this summer. But The Telegraph claim the 25-year-old is keen to stay in the Spanish capital for at least another season.

STRIKER – ROMELU LUKAKU

LukakuEFC
Manchester United’s abundant need for extra firepower has seen them repeatedly linked with one of the Premier League’s most potent front men throughout the campaign in Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, whose top flight haul of 60 goals in 144 appearances is simply phenomenal for a 22-year-old still learning his trade.

The Belgium international has bagged 25 across all competitions this term despite an incredibly underwhelming campaign at Goodison Park and now appears ready to test himself at a higher level, a theory relentlessly drummed up by outspoken agent Mino Raiola. But recent reports have claimed the Toffees value their star striker at a whopping £60million.

STRIKER – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2)
Who else but Zlatan to finish off this select Xi? No striker will represent a better equilibrium between availability and quality this summer, having already revealed he’s set to leave PSG on a free transfer after firing them to a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title with 151 goals in 177 appearances since signing from AC Milan in summer 2012.

A prolific goalscorer and title winner, famed for his technical prowess and physicality, and boasting an enormous media profile through his enigmatic antics, the 34-year-old will be a real asset for whichever club he joins in the summer. Manchester United are certainly in contention and Ibrahimovic has insisted his future employers will be revealed very soon.