So far this winter transfer window has been dominated by reports of who Manchester United are not trying to sign rather than who they are.
Sitting seventh in the Premier League table and with obvious vacancies to fill in certain positions in the squad, it seems unbelievable that the Red Devils will sit back and allow the clubs just ahead of them in the Premier League to strengthen while they twiddle their thumbs and do nothing.
As reported here yesterday, there are claims that the board is reluctant to sanction interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s transfer requests in case they are not players that the next permanent manager would choose.
But if by not strengthening, United fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, the next permanent manager will be facing the real possibility of a mass exodus from the club coupled with an inability to attract top players who want to test themselves at the highest level.
Furthermore, there is an unprecedented number of quality players who are entering the last six months of their contracts and three of the world’s most promising young strikers also set to be snapped up in an ‘if you snooze, you lose’ situation.
The Athletic today published an article listing three ‘sensible transfers’ for United in the defensive midfield department, but admitted that the club would not sign any of them this month. But the question is, which, if any of them, will still be available in the summer?
RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara is being targeted by Newcastle United, Roma and AC Milan are fighting over Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara and the other player cited by the outlet, Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, is likely to stretch the budget to a point that would rule him out – even if he were willing to move to United.
Other great midfield options who are coming to the end of their contracts, but who United are reportedly not pursuing, include Milan’s own Franck Kessie, who Spurs are trying to sign this month, and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria, who could be Bayern Munich bound.
Meanwhile, Juventus are planning an 18-month loan deal for Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.
Setting aside Bellingham, there are five strong midfielders listed here who could instantly improve United’s midfield immeasurably and immediately and all at a fraction of their true value. Yet United continue to look all five gift horses in the mouth.
Meanwhile, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani nearing the end of their careers – and Cavani the end of his contract in June – United need strikers. Several reports claim they have given up hope of signing Erling Haaland from Dortmund and yet it appears they are going to allow neighbours City to snap up River Plate’s highly-rated Julian Alvarez for around £13 million and Arsenal to capture Serie A leading goalscorer – and a player some say is even better than Haaland – Dusan Vlahovic for around £66 million.
Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, a world class centre back, is also coming onto the free transfer market but he looks set to be snapped up by Juventus.
For their own part, Chelsea are reportedly making a move to sign Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, a €140 million player long-coveted by United, who the Catalans have told to pack his bags and leave by the end of the month.
It may very well come back to haunt them in the summer.