Operation Transformation – 5 Players Man Utd Need
The transfer window officially opens on Wednesday with Manchester United expected to be as busy as last summer, when seven new players arrived at Old Trafford.
United have been linked with dozens of players in recent weeks but it seems likely that they’ll add at least five high-profile signings to complement the capture of Memphis Depay.
We take a look at those most likely to arrive to help Louis van Gaal’s men challenge for next season’s title.
While United are playing hardball with Real Madrid over a fee for David de Gea, it would still be a shock if the Spaniard remained in Manchester to see out the final year of his contract.
It took Sir Alex Ferguson years to properly replace Peter Schmeichel so van Gaal will be conscious of the need for a top-class replacement de Gea.
Despite Victor Valdes’ presence, Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris seems the most likely candidate to fill de Gea’s gloves. The French captain has three years of Premier League experience and his stats have compared admirably with those of de Gea during his time in England.
Estimated fee – £25 million
Right-back was a problem area for van Gaal last season, with Antonio Valencia shoehorned into the role ahead of a clearly untrusted Rafael.
United have lost out on Dani Alves, who used interest from the Red Devils to earn an improved contact at Barcelona, and Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne – who looks set to join Liverpool.
Despite links to the likes of Matteo Darmian and Gregory van der Wiel, the most realistic option seems to be Everton’s Seamus Coleman.
A United fan as a kid, the Irishman had an underwhelming season last year but would represent an upgrade on United’s current right-back options. Van Gaal is a fan of attacking full-backs and Coleman certainly fits the bill – contributing nine Premier League goals and four assists in the last two seasons.
Estimated fee – £20 million
It seems United have been linked with every decent midfielder on the planet in recent times.
The likes of Pogba, Vidal and Schweinsteiger have all been mooted but, like Lloris and Coleman – it’s more likely van Gaal will raid a fellow Premier League club for midfield reinforcements.
Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin may not be a name to whet United fans’ appetites like the aforementioned trio but many of the club’s most successful signings in the modern era have been from English clubs.
Michael Carrick’s move from Tottenham in 2006 wasn’t exactly marked by huge fanfare amongst United fans but none would now argue with his importance to the club nine years later.
Saints’ French midfielder would be an ideal eventual replacement for Carrick. It was against Southampton last term that United lost their only game that Carrick started, with the English midfielder losing a rare midfield battle.
Estimated fee – £25 million
The transfer saga with Sergio Ramos rumbles on, with the suspicion that the Spanish defender is using United as leverage for an improved contract at Real Madrid.
A more credible, and arguably better, central defensive alternative is Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi.
Pairing the 27-year-old with Ramos would be the dream scenario for United fans, but despite the paucity of quality in central defence, it seems van Gaal is only in the market for one centre-back this summer.
United have lacked leadership in defence since the departure of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, and the Argentine would certainly offer that.
Estimated fee – £35 million (buyout clause)
With Falcao’s unsuccessful loan not extended and Robin van Persie’s future in doubt, it would be remiss of van Gaal not to add a striker during the transfer window.
Javier Hernandez has returned from Real Madrid and there remain high hopes for James Wilson, but the United boss will be conscious that their haul of 62 league goals last season was their worst total in ten years.
The likes of Carlos Bacca and Jackson Martinez look set for moves elsewhere, while the consistent links with Karim Benzema look optimistic at best.
A more rational option could be the man dubbed the “new Benzema” in France.
Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette finished last season as Ligue 1’s top scorer – no mean feat in a league featuring the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.
Top scorers in France do not always prosper in England – Djibril Cisse being a case in point – but French experts consider Alexandre Lacazette the real deal. He was awarded Ligue 1’s Player of the Year last season, with previous recipients including Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard, Benzema and Didier Drogba.
Estimated Fee – £30 million