Manchester United Transfers: Bold Predictions for United's Top Summer Targets
Even with the signings of Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell already in the books, Sir Alex Ferguson has not yet finished his summer spending.
With the club linked to just about every talented footballer on the continent and beyond, this article will attempt to separate the fact from the fiction, the tabloid fodder from the inside line.
Indeed, not all of the players pursued by the Red Devils will end up donning the newly checkered shirt—some, like Eden Hazard before them, will no doubt decide that their future lies elsewhere.
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Perhaps the player Sir Alex would most like to sign this offseason, Luka Modric is a playmaker with more than enough class to help transform United's struggling midfield.
But with a price tag of £35 and upward, United look to be unwilling to part with so much cash for his signature.
No doubt newly appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas will attempt to keep the Croatian midfielder at the club, but a move away nevertheless looks the most likely end to the long-running transfer saga.
His destination? Despite some strong interest from within the Premier League, I can see Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid winning the race for his signature by a head, possibly by offering Sami Khedira, or more likely, Nuri Sahin in part exchange to further entice Spurs to deal.
But if neither Sahin or Khedira consent to the move, don't be surprised to see Modric playing for big-spending Chelsea next season.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Patrice Evra has long been acknowledged to be United's most significant weakness in the back four and, with the Frenchman no longer having the impact going forward that he had two or three seasons ago, bringing in a replacement left-back has become a top priority for Sir Alex.
Everton's Leighton Baines certainly fits the bill.
He is reliable at the back and one of the most underrated crossers of the ball in the Premier League.
But with his club reportedly demanding £17 million for his signature (via goal.com), it is the writer's opinion that Sir Alex will baulk at the price tag and look elsewhere for possibilities, with Baines staying put.
After all, the better Jordi Alba recently completed a move to Barcelona for less than £12 million, proving better deals can be made to solve the left-back problem.
Right player, wrong price.
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
With a possible Modric deal seemingly scuppered, the Portuguese playmaker has become the logical Plan B.
United have a history of raiding the Portuguese league for its talents, having recently brought a number of its players to the Premier League, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani—both, like Moutinho, coming from Sporting Lisbon's famed youth academy.
But it is yet unclear as to whether or not Porto would be willing to sell their player and, if they were, for what price?
Tottenham have also made it clear that they want Moutinho to be their star signing, with the player's former manager Villas-Boas attempting luring the playmaker to London (via theguardian.co.uk).
However, I predict the Red Devils to win the race for Moutinho's signature, with a deal to be completed for a fee in the region of £25-30 million.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
This one makes little sense to me.
The 19-year-old James Rodriguez, also from FC Porto, is no doubt a talented prospect.
But, like Moutinho, Rodriguez is expected to fetch a handsome price, far more than United are willing to pay (via dailymail.co.uk).
But the main reasons why this transfer leaves me scratching my head, is the fact that:
A. Rodriguez would cost more than any fee the Red Devils could expect to receive for the sale of Nani.
B. Rodriguez is not as talented as Nani and it is no certainty that he would ever become as good.
C. £25 million and upward is a high price to pay for an untested 19-year-old winger.
D. United are not short of wingers, with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia also in the fold.
Therefore, I fully expect Nani to stay put and any possible move for Rodriguez to be put on permanent ice (or at least until Porto lower their price).
Robin van Persie
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
It would take a brave man to predict Arsenal's Robin van Persie running out at Old Trafford for the club's opening home fixture.
Unfortunately, I am not that man.
Arsene Wenger wouldn't sell to United and I doubt van Persie would try to engineer a move north, rather, oversees, preferably to either Spain or Italy.
I find it difficult to foresee van Persie staying put, with Wenger's stubbornness likely to be proven futile.
The clubs most likely to make a significant bid for the Dutch striker are Manchester City, the wealthy Malaga and PSG and a host of the top clubs in Italy.
But quite where he'll end up is, at this point in time, anyone's guess.