Manchester United Transfer Talk: 10 Targets the Red Devils Need to Pursue

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 14, 2012

Manchester United Transfer Talk: 10 Targets the Red Devils Need to Pursue

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    With the summer transfer window well and truly underway, onlookers can’t be disappointed with the amount of activity that has already taken place in these first two weeks of what is a favourite time of the year for many.

    In the opening fortnight of July, we’ve already seen big names such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard, Shinji Kagawa and Marko Marin move all over Europe, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there’ll be a raft of others to follow shortly.

    Manchester United, as always, are heavily involved amongst the transfer rumours due to their huge image and—financial uncertainty or not—vast funds.

    The club have the ability to look at the top targets in this slightly cash-fuelled sport with an eye of intent, knowing that they are fully capable of luring even the biggest talents to Old Trafford.

    Bearing that in mind, here are 10 of the stars that the Red Devils would do well to inspect further this summer.

    Whether it be for tactical advantage or squad necessity, the players included over the next 10 slides are merely those that would benefit Sir Alex Ferguson most this season.

    There will undoubtedly be bigger and more high-profile names omitted, but that’s solely for the reason that they just might not be priorities for the club at the moment.

Lucas Moura

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    According to the Daily Mail, Jim Lawlor, chief scout for the Red Devils, recently flew out to to Brazil with club secretary John Alexander in order to push through a move for Lucas Moura.

    However, it seems Sir Alex Ferguson’s chase for the 19-year-old may come up fruitless after Sao Paulo president Juvenal Juvencio stated, “It is a risk not selling Lucas, but we are going to take it.”

    Chelsea are rumoured to have had a €40 million offer for the starlet rebuffed already this summer.

    Moura will feature as part of Brazil’s Olympic football squad at the London Olympics this summer—an event which will undoubtedly boost the player’s profile only further.

    The teenager has displayed an enormous amount of skill and maturity in his native Brasileiro Série A, and while an unknown name to many on foreign shores, he has the potential needed to become his nation’s leading playmaker.

Leighton Baines

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    Manchester United’s search for a Patrice Evra successor appears to have led them to Everton’s Leighton Baines, who has incessantly been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, according to The Daily Star.

    The full-back areas seem to be of an altogether higher priority than the aforementioned central midfielders, meaning David Moyes may finally have to let go of one of his stars.

    Baines, an England international, has proved his quality amongst a cash-poor Everton side in recent seasons and is arguable the club’s most consistent player, more than capable of functioning in attack as well as defence.

    The free-kick specialist has a reported price-tag of £15m, but United are thought to be looking to do business at somewhere closer to the £10m mark (via Daily Mail).

    Thirty-one-year-old Evra has been a key servant to Manchester United for the past five years, but some questionable performances over the past two seasons have left some wondering just how long he has left in him performing at the top level.

Iker Muniain

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    Considering the mass amount of plaudits surrounding the player prior to the January transfer window, the transfer speculation has gone surprisingly cold around the immediate future of Iker Muniain.

    An air of uncertainty currently surrounds Athletic Bilbao and their playing staff due to the tension that now exists between manager Marcelo Bielsa and the club’s boardroom.

    Despite his age, the 19-year-old has established himself as a primary attacking threat for the Spaniards and played a big role in Bilbao’s Europa League run, netting on five occasions, one of which was at Old Trafford.

    The winger’s agent, Jesus Medina, recently spoke to to Calciomercato.com (h/t metro.co.uk):

    Athletic do not want to sell. Whoever wants him must pay his buyout clause at €36 million (£29.5 million).

    Should United be serious enough in their interest, the sum could be a sound investment, given Muniain’s youth and the talent already being displayed.

    As things stand United’s wide areas are pretty well stocked, with Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young at the club, but if reinforcements were to be added, Athletic Bilbao’s starlet would be a primary target.

Javi Martinez

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    Linking on from our last candidate, Iker Muniain, Manchester United are thought to hold a large amount of interest in the youngster’s club and international teammate Javi Martinez.

    Any potential transfer hit a pretty serious snag when, speaking to Antena 3 (h/t goal.com), Martinez stated the following:

    I don't see myself playing for Barcelona. I am very happy at Athletic. I have a contract until 2016 and the truth is that I see myself at Athletic [until then].

    Athletic Bilbao have defended their asset and commented in the past that they would sell the anchorman only if a club were to meet his €40 million (£31.5 million) release-clause fee.

    With the futures of Anderson, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes in doubt and Park Ji-Sung no longer at the club, there is certainly room for recruitment in the middle of the park at Old Trafford.

    What’s more, Martinez is capable of playing at centre-back as well as defensive midfield, showing exactly the kind of versatility that Sir Alex Ferguson loves so much.

Robin Van Persie

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    The name on just about everyone’s lips right now is Robin van Persie, and his days at Arsenal are looking numbered after the forward admitted that he would not be penning a new deal at the Emirates Stadium.

    In accordance, a free-for-all fracas immediately ensued regarding the Dutchman’s signature, and the likes of Manchester City, AC Milan and Juventus are believed to be just some of the clubs interested in RVP, according to The Daily Mail.

    With Michael Owen having already left the club’s ranks and Dimitar Berbatov's featuring less and less for United, striking reinforcements certainly seem an option for Ferguson.

    With just a year left on his Arsenal deal, Van Persie is supposedly available for a fee of just £20 million; not bad for a player that scored 37 club goals last year.

    At 29 RVP is definitely older than Ferguson is accustomed to buying but with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes—two examples of why age is just a number—who’s to say the Scotsman can’t work some longevity magic on another Premier League star?

Neven Subotic

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    Having featured prominently for the Borussia Dortmund side that just defended their Bundesliga title and won the DFB Pokal trophy, Neven Subotic has proven himself capable of performing with some of Europe’s best.

    The Serbian international currently has two years left to run on his contract at the Westfalenstadion but could follow former teammate Shinji Kagawa to the pastures of Old Trafford this summer.

    In September of last year, German publication Bild reported Subotic as saying the following (h/t goal.com):

    There really isn't any reason for me to leave this club. Dortmund is an amazing city. I will never switch clubs within Germany. If I move, it will be to a nice foreign club.

    It’s unclear as to whether the defender would qualify Manchester United as a "nice foreign club."

    Both Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have begun to show signs of their age, and while both may have years at Old Trafford ahead of them, injuries are beginning to take their toll on the two.

    Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones stand ready to step into the duo’s boots, but United may opt for a more experienced face rather than thrusting the youths into action next season.

Kevin Strootman

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    One of the many central midfielders to be linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer, Kevin Strootman is probably one of the more economically friendly options for Manchester United to invest in this summer.

    The PSV playmaker has been likened to Red Devil legend Roy Keane in his playing style, and while Strootman is undoubtedly the taller of the two, his tenacity certainly bears a resemblance to the that of the retired Irishman.

    According to Mirror.co.uk, Sir Alex Ferguson would need to stump up £14 million in order to secure the services of Strootman.

    It was recently reported (via BBC) that Darren Fletcher won’t recover from his chronic bowel condition in time for the start of the season, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s assurances over a coaching role don’t inspire confidence, either.

    As such, replacements will be required, and should Strootman fit the bill for Ferguson, the Dutch international could be a worthy candidate.

Dedé

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    Although centre-back won’t be a priority area for Manchester United right now, the club won’t like the idea of being left in an injury limbo such as they were last season when Nemanja Vidic ended his year with a knee twist.

    As a result, the Red Devils may feel the need to follow up on their apparent interest in Vasco da Gama stalwart Dedé as a long-term replacement.

    Any mention of the Brazilian international will surely be met with a resounding chorus of “Who?” but Dedé is swiftly being touted as one of South America’s brightest defensive prospects.

    As has been aforementioned, United currently have a good amount of central defenders, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic being the two wiser examples while Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones bide their time until they are called upon.

    Regardless, some more experience wouldn’t go astray, and Dedé appears to provide a good balance between that and future potential.

    SkySports reported that the South American is happy in his current surroundings, but that won’t deter United from chasing their target.

Yohan Cabaye

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    Since Yohan Cabaye moved to Tyneside in 2011, his stock has gone nowhere but up, thanks to some miraculous displays in the Premier League.

    The former Lille playmaker collected four goals and eight assists in what was a fantastic first season in the English top flight and scored in the 3-0 routing of United at Old Trafford.

    With Park Ji-Sung's having already left the club, central reinforcements are already looking likely for the Premier League giants.

    In May Newcastle boss Alan Pardew spoke about Cabave to the BBC:

    But if Yohan Cabaye gets a call from Manchester United and they tell him he is going to be the next Paul Scholes, I am not going to be able to stop him.

    United can offer the Frenchman Champions League football, something he won’t be getting at his current surroundings, a factor that could play heavily in where the 26-year-old plies his trade next campaign.

Luka Modric

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    Last but most certainly not least is a player who is almost certain to leave his club in the coming months, with Andre Villas Boas commenting himself that he would be willing to sell Luka Modric.

    AVB spoke earlier this week (via The Guardian):

    With Luka, there is interest and the player raises interest. The interest that he is getting from a number of clubs is the same as he got last year. If the player's ambition is to move to another club, we can respect that decision but there are club interests that the chairman will defend and only when the right offer is met will there be more use.

    Nevertheless, with Real Madrid said to be heavily interested (h/t Daily Telegraph), United will need to move quickly in their pursuit.

    According to Opta Stats, Modric has created 162 goalscoring chances since the beginning of the 2010-11 season and is second only to David Silva, who has 177.

    These numbers certainly point to a source of ammunition Sir Alex Ferguson would want amongst his ranks, but will the Scotsman be the one to quench Modric’s thirst for Champions League football?