Manchester United Transfers: Top January Transfer Speculation

Guido Fargiorgio@WorldBGuidCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2012

Manchester United Transfers: Top January Transfer Speculation

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    The first of January begins the winter transfer window, and Manchester United are inquiring on several quality players as they look to add key pieces in moving forward towards reclaiming the Premier League title.

    Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has been involved heavily in the months leading up to the winter transfer window. Being one of the most lucrative clubs with a large budget to spend certainly helps that. Teams like United can afford to be linked to many of the top players available, and those players also want to play for the top clubs.

    While there aren't enough spots on the field to sign every player that is available, there’s certainly no harm in asking. Ferguson and United have many options to consider, and this list (in no particular order) looks at some interesting transfer speculation involving United.

10. In: Wilfried Zaha

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    Wilfried Zaha's play for Crystal Palace this season has been standout, and he is starting to attract interest. Manager Ian Holloway has come out to cool the interest, however, by saying that Zaha would not be sold this winter.

    Crystal Palace won't let their star player move on for cheap, since they are battling for promotion to the Premier League, and he is the best player to ever feature for the Eagles. There's also the fact that Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez stand in his way of playing time, which he needs more of to grow.

    However, a new rumor has United involved with a transfer that meets both clubs' needs. According to Sunday People (via the Mirror), Manchester United want to sign Zaha and loan him right back to Crystal Palace.

    That type of deal could change Holloway's mind about a January transfer.

9. In: Tom Ince

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    Thomas Ince's impressive form with Blackpool has not gone unnoticed. A few teams showed interest during the summer for the young winger, but Ince chose to remain at Blackpool at his father Paul's suggestion.

    A few months later, things are a little different. Manchester United, the team his father played for when he was just a small boy, wants Thomas to follow in his father's footsteps as reported by the Daily Mail.

    The price may be the roadblock though, since, when United first showed interest, then-manager Ian Holloway said that Sir Alex Ferguson better be prepared to pony up a large sum to sign Ince. Then again, Holloway left shortly after to take over Crystal Palace so things may have changed.

8. In: Mario Gotze

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    Mario Gotze is a world class attacking midfielder and has been linked by the Daily Mail with a move to Old Trafford dating back to last year, during his breakout campaign with Borussia Dortmund.

    Sir Alex Ferguson was told then that it would cost around £50 million to seal a move for the German international, but a recent revelation could change everything.

    According to the Daily Mail, Gotze has a release clause in his contract that could be triggered with a £30 million offer, and now United can get their man. They will face competition from other potential suitors, such as Liverpool, Real Madrid and even some Italian clubs, so Ferguson and United have to act quickly if they want Gotze.

7. Out: Patrice Evra

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    Patrice Evra has been a mainstay in the Manchester United lineup for most of his time with the Red Devils.

    His time with United has seen him regarded by some, including his coach, as one of the best left-backs in the world. Unfortunately for Evra, it seems like that time has passed.

    Don't get me wrong, Evra is still a great player, but I wouldn't consider him the top anymore. It seems United may not either, and last year saw him linked to a move away from Old Trafford to Real Madrid by ESPN Soccernet, while Inter almost beat out United for his signature in 2006.

6. In: Leighton Baines

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    Talking about Patrice Evra possibly leaving Old Trafford provides a smooth segue to Leighton Baines. Baines broke out last season for Everton as he scored seven goals while playing in every single one of Everton's Premier League games. He accomplished all of this as a left-back.

    Though not a poor defender by any means, his attacking threat is what makes Baines such a valuable commodity. Despite signing left-back Alex Buttner this summer, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted Baines then and has continued to make him a priority according to the Daily Mail.

    So much so that he may even include Evra, who Everton manager David Moyes wants, to get a cut-price deal for Baines (h/t the Daily Express).

5. In: Angelo Ogbonna

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    Angelo Ogbonna could be a fixture in Manchester United's back line for the foreseeable future. With Rio Ferdinand possibly leaving in the summer, United will be looking for defense, and his potential to be a key member of the back line interests Manchester United (according to the Daily Mirror).

    Sir Alex Ferguson has been critical of United's defense in the wake of some not-so spectacular performances. Things may not be so bad when Nemanja Vidic returns from his injury, but United might still look for defensive help.

    Though they have been linked by Metro with other more well-known players, such as Brede Hangeland, Ogbonna gives United something a bit different. The talented Torino youth product is not as experienced as Hangeland, but he still has his prime years ahead of him.

4. Out: Nani

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    Nani was, for a time, one of the world's best wingers. Manchester United's wing tandem of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the most potent and hardest duos to stop.

    And when Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, Nani continued to feature as a main component to United's attack. That was then, this is now, and now, due to contract disputes, Nani is no longer part of Sir Alex Ferguson's plans.

    With Gazzella Dello Sport claiming Nani is receiving a good amount of interest from AC Milan (h/t the Daily Mirror), United could look to cash in while his value is still there.

3. In: Robert Lewandowski

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    Robert Lewandowski is yet another Borussia Dortmund player being linked with a move to Manchester United.

    Much like teammate Mario Gotze, Lewandowski was being courted by United when things suddenly changed earlier today with the Daily Mail reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson had finally sealed his deal for Lewandowski.

    Things got even crazier a little bit later on, and now it looks like the deal isn't going to happen. Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has revealed that the Polish striker will not be joining the Red Devils, and Ferguson can vie for the strikers' signature in the summer along with the plethora of other teams interested (via the Sun).

2. In: Wesley Sneijder

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    Wesley Sneijder is on the way out at Inter as the Guardian reveals that contract talks have stalled because the playmaker will not reduce his wages.

    Sneijder's been linked with United since it looked like Inter was going to sell the midfielder last season, and the Dutchman was hailed as Paul Scholes' ideal replacement by the man himself. As it looked like things were going nowhere with new contract talks, Sneijder put United on alert.

    Now that things have hit the fan between Sneijder and Inter, it looks as though a winter transfer will happen, lest Inter let the Dutchman leave for free in the summer. Back in October, it was revealed by talkSPORT that Ferguson wanted to offer Nani in a swap-deal for Sneijder. Both players' value are low right now, and that type of deal could be revisited.

1. In: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Cristiano Ronaldo rarely reveals his true feelings to the media, so it's no surprise that, despite him saying otherwise, The Sun claims Ronaldo could be on his way out.

    And when it comes to a return to United, you guessed it, reports are conflicting. Ronaldo says he still has United in his heart, but insisted he is staying at Madrid. One thing's for sure though, Sir Alex Ferguson would love to have the superstar back.

    Hard to blame him. Ronaldo was prolific during his time at United and the thought of the Portuguese winger playing alongside Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie makes even an anti-Ronaldo person like me salivate at the thought.

    If you want to file this under unlikely, you can go ahead, but there is no bigger or more intriguing rumor than a possible Old Trafford return for Ronaldo.