With the New Year comes the start of the January transfer window and despite spending approximately £150 million last summer, rumours are rife that Louis Van Gaal will again get out the cheque book to improve his side for the second half of the season. Manchester United are always linked with numerous players in every transfer window and this preview will take a look at who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, who Van Gaal should be looking at and who might be leaving the club.
United’s January Transfer Targets: The Rumour Mill
As with any transfer window, plenty of players have been linked with a move to Manchester United. One of the more persistent rumours is that United will make a move for Roma’s Kevin Strootman. Strootman knows Van Gaal well from his time with the Dutch squad, and this addition would bolster a midfield that has been fraught with injuries. However, Strootman has only just overcome a serious knee injury, and this, coupled with Roma’s repeated insistence that the player will not be leaving the club, make this deal more likely to happen in the summer. Another player that is constantly linked with United is Borussia Dortmund’s German international centre-back Matt Hummels.
United’s issues in defence have been well documented, with Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo all spending time injured. Hummels would add some much needed solidity to a defence that has at times looked fragile, however Dortmund’s asking price may make the summer a better time for this transfer. Recent weeks have linked Gareth Bale with a world record move from Real Madrid, but this is probably just paper talk and it would be very surprising to see Real let go of one of their Galácticos, especially mid-season. Seamus Coleman is the latest name to be linked to Old Trafford. With Rafael hampered by injury and Antonio Valencia converting from winger to wing back, Van Gaal may well be looking to expand his right sided options. However whether or not he would be willing to pay the rumoured £25 million for the Everton player remains to be seen.
Who United Should Go For
Hummels, Strootman and Coleman would all be great acquisitions, and would improve the squad which has had issues in midfield and defence. Bale, on the other hand is a luxury that, even if Real agreed to sell him, United do not currently need. With attacking talents like Rooney, Van Persie, Falcao, Mata and Di Maria, in addition to young players James Wilson and Adnan Januzaj, attack is not as much of a priority as defence.
Ron Vlaar is a player who was heavily linked to Manchester United during the summer. He would add some depth to United’s defence and has familiarity with Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 system having played in it with Holland. Vlaar would also potentially be available at a reasonable price, as his contract expires in the summer.
January is an expensive time to buy players, as many teams are unwilling to part with their stars unless an exorbitant fee is offered. As much as the names that have been mentioned would be players that would improve United, the summer might be a more realistic time to get deals done rather than overspend or overreach with a player now.
On the way out
There may well be more players leaving Old Trafford than arriving. Anderson has never quite fulfilled the potential that led Sir Alex Ferguson to buy the Brazilian from Porto. With his contract expiring in the summer and playing time less than scarce it looks like Anderson will be allowed to leave in January. Tom Cleverley is another player who could well be on his way as his loan contract with Aston Villa has a clause that allows Villa to make the deal permanent in January, making a departure a big possibility. Adnan Januzaj has struggled with fitness this season and when fit has struggled to get the same game time he did last season, so a loan deal could be an option to continue his development.
January is a hard time for clubs to do business, as value is hard to find. United’s squad still requires some reinforcements, but to get the right kind of player at the right price may mean most of United’s deals must wait until the summer.
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