Manchester United Transfers: Possible Additions and Departures This Summer
This past summer was a pretty wild one.
From the "Will he, won't he?" pursuit of Lucas Moura to the "Wait, we actually got him!?" signing of Robin van Persie, Manchester United Football Club were often front and centre of the tabloid rumour mill.
As the winter transfer window nears its close, now is as good a time as any to look ahead to the season's end and the commencement of the inevitable gossip that the summer brings.
Here are several players who could leave Old Trafford, and a few Sir Alex Ferguson may bring in to strengthen his squad.
Finding the truth amongst the typical tittle-tattle is a task I set you, the reader.
Do the Red Devils Need a New Goalkeeper?
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Possible Departure: David de Gea
Possible Replacements: Asmir Begovic, Victor Valdes, Fernando Muslera
One perplexing rumour that won't seem to wither and die is that linking Manchester United with a move for a host of international goalkeepers.
In my humble opinion, this season has seen David de Gea begin to show the type of form that pursuaded the club to shell out £20 million for his services in 2011.
He may not look the finished product when dealing with crosses, but his technique has improved a great deal since his error-prone first season at Old Trafford.
So why sell him?
The Telegraph claims that: "Sir Alex Ferguson has become exasperated by De Gea’s inability to iron out the flaws in his game and senior players at the club are understood to have lost faith in the 22-year-old."
The same report links United with Stoke City's Asmir Begovic, Barcelona's Victor Valdes, who is soon to be out of contract, and Galatasaray's Fernando Muslera as possible replacements for the young Spaniard.
One thing's for sure, if Sir Alex does decide to give up on De Gea in the summer, expect an angry rant in response on my part.
Will Everton Allow Leighton Baines to Leave?
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Possible Departure: Patrice Evra
Possible Replacement: Leighton Baines
Patrice Evra has been in sterling form these past couple of months, scoring more goals for the club than he had in his first seven years combined.
Nevertheless, the French left-back remains a defensive liability at times, finding himself caught out of position at key moments in games.
Though United were priced out of a move for Everton's Leighton Baines last year, The Sunday Express recently reported that "Manchester United will return for Everton defender Leighton Baines in January" (h/t The Mirror).
The rather dubious tabloid believes that a bid of as little as £8 million could clinch a deal, with the possibility of Evra moving in the opposite direction.
As inconceivable as this seems, Patrice Evra has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford before, most notably to Paris Saint-Germain (via Give Me Football).
Perhaps the more significant question is whether or not his position is United's biggest area of concern?
Are the Bundesliga's Top Defenders Tempting Sir Alex?
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Possible Departure: Rio Ferdinand
Possible Replacements: Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Serdar Tasci
Earlier this month, Sir Alex spoke out about veteran defender Rio Ferdinand's fast-expiring contract (via Goal.com).
"We are not panicking about that," he told reporters. "I don't think Rio wants to leave and, as I have said before, he can play on. I don't think he has the same issue with his back that he had a couple of years ago. It is manageable now."
While the chances of the Englishman leaving the club in the summer are slim, there remains the possibility that Fergie may look to bring in a long-term replacement in the next transfer window.
If the rumours are to be believed, the German Bundesliga's top talents in the position are tempting him greatly.
His teammate Neven Subotic is a player who has been linked with the Red Devils in the past, while the club's scouts have also been keeping a close eye on Stuttgart defender Serdar Tasci (via Caught Offside and Tribal Football).
Will Sir Alex Finally Relent and Sign a Box-to-Box Enforcer?
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Possible Departure: Paul Scholes
Possible Replacements: Kevin Strootman, Victor Wanyama
Paul Scholes' glorious comeback last season seems to have lost its gloss, as his playing time and effectiveness have severely diminished this term.
Re-retirement seems the most likely outcome for the Manchester United legend this summer, and a return to the anonymity that he relishes.
So believe The Sun, who claim that "the Manchester United legend, 38, has told people close to him this is definitely his final season."
With Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa ready-in-waiting successors, it is unlikely that Sir Alex will feel the need to buy another creative midfielder this year.
But unless the Scotsman can get the still promising Anderson to do the job, he may seek to bring in a box-to-box enforcer similar to Roy Keane in his prime.
I wrote about PSV's Kevin Strootman potentially being a great fit for the Red Devils back in September and haven't changed my way of thinking since.
Is Wilfried Zaha Really Worth the Hype?
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Possible Departure: Nani
Possible Replacement: Wilfried Zaha
Manchester United fans' love/hate relationship with Nani is still showing no signs of settling—on a good day he is one of the most dangerous players in the game, on a bad one he is embarrassingly incompetent.
Who knows if Sir Alex will finally lose patience in the Portuguese winger come the summer? Who knows if there's a club out there willing to meet his valuation?
After some speculation, Fergie felt it necessary last month to reveal "Nani’s contract isn’t up until the end of next season and we need him. He offers something different from the other players we have. He’s got an incredible talent" (via The Mirror).
The United boss would not let him leave for free, though, and will surely look to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
Wilfried Zaha—the name on everyone's lips—is likely to move to Old Trafford in the summer should a deal be concluded that allows the pacy winger to remain at current club Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season.
The Daily Mail claims that "Manchester United expect to wrap up the signing of Wilfried Zaha [on Wednesday], although they may defer the finer details of the transfer until the summer."
Has a Deal Already Been Struck for Robert Lewandowski?
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Possible Departure: Federico Macheda
Possible Replacement: Robert Lewandowski
Poor old Federico Macheda—his tale is a cautionary one for youngsters who make a premature impact at the highest level at a young age.
Since bursting onto the scene in 2009 in a thrilling 3-2 win over Aston Villa, his career has sizzled. Loan spells at Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers have failed miserably, while he has never been able to make a place for himself in the United first team.
In an interview with the Stuttgart Nachrichten newspaper, Stuttgart director of sport Fredi Bobic claimed that "We have been watching him for a while now. He is one of the players we have on our shortlist" (h/t The Telegraph).
A temporary move is currently being touted, with the option of making it permanent at the end of the season.
With one striker set to depart, rumours are swirling that another may join in the summer, though not as a direct replacement.
According the The Daily Mail, Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski could be on his way in a transfer worth as much as £18 million.
Quite where that would leave Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, though, remains to be seen.
Who do you think will leave the club in the summer? Who might United look to buy?