With little more than a week left to go in the January transfer window, it’s now that clubs tend to go into overdrive in forcing through those last-minute deals, many of which we don’t expect.
Manchester United have shown the capacity to be as surprising as any other and these remaining January days will be spent considering just who are realistic options for the Red Devils at this late(ish) stage of the mid-season business period.
Given the near endless stream of playing talent to be regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford, this is more than just the best players rumoured to be in Manchester United’s sights but more of a credible breakdown of the five players that have a good chance of doing so.
A long-standing staple in Manchester United transfer rumours now, Kevin Strootman could turn out to be one of the club’s more expensive targets should they choose to pursue his signature this month.
According to talkSPORT, the player’s agent, Chiel Dekker, admitted that the Premier League, and particularly Manchester United, were of interest to Strootman but added that a summer move was the likely option.
That being said, a box-to-box midfielder is undoubtedly an asset that the Red Devils would welcome in this second half of the season and Strootman’s capabilities as an attacking playmaker as well as deep-lying anchor make him a highly desirable commodity.
talkSPORT have also reported PSV coach Dick Advocaat of telling that it’s a matter of when, not if the 22-year-old leaves his Dutch surroundings, encouraging Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to make their move for the utility man.
As the Metro told in late 2012, Manchester United made a step up in their scouting of young Belgian starlet Dennis Praet in November, perhaps in preparation for a January swoop.
At just 18 years of age, Praet is already a leading star in the Anderlecht side currently top of the Jupiler league and his contribution of seven goals and seven assists so far this season has been of massive help to their title defence.
The teenager is seen by many as one of the most promising talents in Belgian football, but Praet is already proving to be playing beyond his years, not unlike a certain Eden Hazard once did at Lille.
With Ryan Giggs slowly edging his way out of the Manchester United squad and Nani’s place in the team a factor of growing doubt, it wouldn’t be absurd to suppose Ferguson may seek wide recruitments this January, of which Praet would suit the club profile.
A potentially risky inclusion, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is actually expected in Newcastle for a medical with the Magpies after Montpellier accepted a £7 million bid from Alan Pardew’s side (via Guardian).
That being said, some late interest from Arsenal has supposedly got the northeast outfit nervous, and Manchester United may be smart to throw their name into matters at this late stage.
Given Newcastle’s offer, Manchester United already have an idea of how much needs to be forked out for the centre-back’s signature and it helps that the defender has previously described a move to Old Trafford as “a dream” (via Daily Mail).
Although Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are undoubtedly seen by many as future stalwarts at the Theatre of Dreams, Yanga-Mbiwa may provide a more immediate replacement for the ailing figures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
With Athletic Bilbao just a stone’s throw from La Liga’s relegation spots, it would be understandable for the club to consider letting go some of their premier talent this January.
One of those talents would certainly be Iker Muniain who, along with a few other players at San Mamés, may have gone off the boil of late but is certainly capable of big things.
Prior to last summer, the Metro quoted Muniain’s agent as saying that United would need to pay the forward’s buyout clause of €36 million should they wish to purchase him.
Muniain, described by the Independent as good friends with David de Gea, would certainly beef up the Manchester United wings while holding great potential for the future and with a possibly cut-price value at that.
As the Mirror will tell, Crystal Palace have reportedly accepted Manchester United's £15 million offer for the Championship’s hottest prospect, Wilfried Zaha, and could wrap up the deal in the next few days.
The same article alleges that Sir Alex Ferguson held a secret meeting with the winger in London, providing the kind of scene heard in many a Ferguson deal, adding that personal touch that the Scotsman has become rather famous for in recent decades.
It would seem the only mitigating factor could be whether Zaha makes the move immediately, or remains at Selhurst Park for the remainder of the season.
Just to be clear, there have been no major indications that Manchester United are interested in Heung-Min Son of Hamburg, but that doesn’t make his move an impossible one.
The Metro recently reported that the South Korean is reluctant to pen a contract extension at the Imtech Arena, putting several Premier League big boys on high alert.
Given their apparent need for a winger, Son may well fit the profile should a move for Wilfried Zaha not come to pass and his appeal to the Asian market is undoubtedly one the Reds could look to exploit.
After several months of hefty speculation, Manchester United’s trail of Celtic’s Victor Wanyama appears to have gone cold this January.
However, that doesn’t mean that interest isn’t there and as Goal.com suggested in December, the defensive midfielder has already been scouted by Martin Ferguson, brother to Alex, and could fit the Red Devils’ greatest needs right now.