No matter how strong their squad may appear, a club such as Manchester United can always be improved and the winter transfer window is the ideal mid-season opportunity to do just that.
As ever, the Red Devils are already being linked with numerous January reinforcements, a cycle of speculation that changes on a daily, if not an hourly basis.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have resumed their usual routine and are already challenging for the top spots in the English top flight after a rocky start to the campaign.
Rumours dictate that the club are looking at all areas of the pitch in which they can beef up this New Year, and while not all will come to fruition, that doesn’t stop the near endless stream of gossip being churned out.
With the January transfer edging closer, the following players have been most recently mentioned with a move to Old Trafford in the near future, some of whom not for the first, or last time.
Despite the massive wealth of attacking talent already at the club, Manchester United have become one of several Premier League sides to be linked with a move for Serie B forward, Domenico Berardi.
Speaking to calciomercato.it (h/t Daily Mail), Sassuolo’s general director, Nereo Bonato, comments that:
“We have received accreditation requests to view our games in recent times from English clubs such as Liverpool and Southampton. But it is too early to talk about the market so there has been no contact with any club,”
“Berardi has important qualities and certainly he deserves attention, but I think the guy has yet to grow and that Sassuolo is the right place for him to do it. We would like to keep the whole team until the end of the season, then in June we'll see.”
So, it would seem that a winter move certainly isn’t the preferred method for Berardi’s current club but, should United’s interest result in a handsome off, Sassuolo may not be able to help but lose their starlet.
A man in major demand at Old Trafford right now, Sofiane Feghouli has attracted a raft of European attention since going through his first full season as a Valencia player.
The Algerian international has found himself to likened to Paul Scholes in recent months and despite the acquisition of Shinji Kagawa over the summer, Metro describe Feghouli as a “more attacking option.”
However, things aren’t as easy as they appear, and while Manchester United carry a lot of weight when it comes to the transfer stage, luring the 22-year-old may be a more difficult task to accomplish than envisaged by some.
Speaking to Marca (h/t talkSPORT), Feghouli is reported as saying that the transfer market is something he doesn’t wish to involve himself in and that he wants to “stay here for a very long time.”
From this, we can certainly glean that the midfielder is happy in his current surroundings, meaning it may take some convincing to change his mind on that front.
That being said, Feghouli’s prospective transfer wouldn’t be the first time that we’d witnessed a footballer going back on their word.
In a bid to fill the void existing in defensive midfield, Sir Alex Ferguson has been touted as a fan of Bayer Leverkusen anchorman, Lars Bender, and is planning a January bid for his services.
Some impressive displays over the past year or so have seen Bender break into the German international squad and become a senior talisman in the Leverkusen side, despite being just 23 years old.
Lars is the older twin brother of Borussia Dortmund star, Sven, by exactly 12 minutes and both have made their mark on the Bundesliga of late, emerging as midfield staples for their sides.
According to the Mirror, United sent chief scout and brother to Sir Alex, Martin Ferguson, to watch Bender in action earlier this month, encouraging news of a transfer.
However, the same article details Bayer Leverkusen chief executive, Wolfgang Holzhauser, as describing Bender as “unsellable,” signalling that the German are club are more than eager to hang onto their midfielder.
Another Bundesliga star to have been heavily associated with a move to Old Trafford of late is Mats Hummels, who once again finds himself as a Manchester United target.
The German international has been a massive part of Borussia Dortmund’s resurgence of late, playing a major role in the winning of their two consecutive league titles.
However, speculation flared last month after the 23-year-old told German newspaper BILD (h/t Sky Sports) that he would consider a move should the right offer come in.
"One day I will say that I am keen on a transfer. To play football in a new country would be flattering. I already had offers and one enquiry from these offers was really one of interest for me,”
“But I told myself that the time is not right for such a move. There was a reason behind my recent contract extension. When you are a Borussia Dortmund player then you do not move to all clubs,”
"In the Bundesliga it would just be about Bayern Munich, but this club has no shortage in my position. In Europe there are just about four to five clubs that would really interest me."
This news will of course be like music to the ears of Manchester United fans, but after signing a five-year contract extension over the summer, the question is whether now is the time for the centre-back to move on.
Having recently made his debut for the England national team, it’s of little surprise that the transfer speculation regarding the future of Wilfried Zaha has picked up of late.
Sir Alex Ferguson is reported to have received a firm recommendation from his son, Peterborough manager, Darren Ferguson, after Zaha dismantled his side in early November.
The People suppose (h/t Daily Mail) that a Manchester United source told the publication of Ferguson’s increased interest and how it had increased significantly since Palace saw the Red Devils out of the League Cup last season.
Championship side Palace have slapped a £20 million price-tag on their starlet in order to fend off potential suitors, but should the right offer come in, the second-tier side may consider deals worth less.
Just how much United want to invest in a payer yet to feature amongst the English top flight is questionable, but the interest would certainly appear as evident.
A particularly interesting revelation for Manchester United supporters will have been the news of Victor Wanyama’s rejection of Celtic’s latest contract offer.
The Telegraph say that the latest extension offer “fell short of Wanyama’s expectations, giving new backing to claims that the Kenyan international could move on from the Scottish club this winter.
Manchester United are thought to be looking at several players capable of playing in defensive midfield, and Wanyama’s ability to play at centre-back also is just an added extra.
The 21-year-old was sensational for the Buoys in their Champions League win over Barcelona earlier this month, adding to the plaudits already surrounding him.
According to the Metro, Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit are currently willing to part with £12m in order to sign Wanyama, but Celtic are looking for a fee closer to the £25m mark.
At the moment, it would seem the two teams are some way from agreeing a transfer fee for the African sensation, but that doesn’t mean a lot can’t change in the next two months.
With a release clause of £36 million, you’d have to have a certain amount of interest to invest in a particular player, but after watching James Rodriguez for a seventh time this season, it would seem that Manchester United have that in spades.
The English giants are known to be fans of the Porto forward and are thought to be lining up his signature as a replacement for Nani, rumoured to be nearing the Old Trafford exit.
The Daily Mail mention a player-plus-cash deal as a possibility between the two clubs, although it’s unlikely that the Portuguese outfit could afford to pay the wages of the current Red Devil.
Porto have made a habit of bringing in talent for fairly cheap amounts, raising their profiles tenfold before selling them for a great deal more than their original investment.
Radamel Falcao, Raul Meireles, Alvaro Pereira, Lisandro Lopez and Lucho Gonzalez would be just some examples that spring to mind.
So, it would seem that United will have to pay through the nose for their transfer target, but Porto’s transfer strategy would suggest they’re certainly willing to sell.