Manchester United Transfers: 6 Unlikeliest Names Linked to Summer Moves
The constant carousel of transfer speculation often throws up a few reports that leave fans scratching their heads in bemusement.
Manchester United tend to be one of the leading topics in tabloid gossip. There isn't a talented footballer on the planet who hasn't been at one time linked with the Red Devils.
In assessing the more recent tittle-tattle, this article will seek to pick the six of the most unlikely stories and the players they involve.
Or, who knows, maybe one will turn out to be genuine gold dust. If this is the case, feel free to mock this writer mercilessly when the summer comes around.
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Liverpool's Pepe Reina has made some outstanding saves and delivered quality performances for his current club during his career, but he has also made a large number of horrific howlers.
The Spaniard is no longer considered a world-class player, and he might not even crack a top 10 list featuring the Premier League's best.
With David de Gea currently in fine form, any transfer speculation linking the Red Devils with a new keeper seems redundant.
Which makes the Daily Mail's January report suggesting Sir Alex Ferguson may be contemplating a move for Reina all the more perplexing.
Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard
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Unlike Reina, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard are both still top-quality footballers.
The English duo remain some of the elite players in their respective positions, and current club Chelsea would be crazy to let either leave on a free transfer in the summer.
Although Cole has developed the reputation of being a bit of a mercenary over the course of his career, it seems hard to believe that the Red Devils would be willing to meet his contract demands and that he'd burn his Chelsea bridges by moving to Old Trafford.
The same goes for Lampard, whose 2012/13 season has truly been a renaissance one to date.
It was The Sun who claimed that this was a possibility back in January this year, though little has been mentioned in regards to this since (h/t The Mirror).
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You could be forgiven for never having heard of Frickson Erazo before today.
The central defender is a physical force for local club Barcelona SC, but if Manchester United are in search for a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand, the Ecuadorian Serie A should hardly be the first port of call.
In an interview with Radio La Ponderosa, the player's agent claimed that "we travelled to Portugal to meet with some people who showed an interest in Frickson, including a scout from Manchester United" (h/t Tribal Football).
At the ripe old age of 24, Erazo would hardly be a young prospect for the future, either.
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In a perfect world for fans of the club, the supremely talented young winger Raheem Sterling would have grown up a Manchester United player.
But as it is, he just so happens to play for Liverpool, immediately making the possibility of him ever becoming a Red Devil slim-to-none.
This didn't stop tabloids reporting that Sir Alex was considering making a bid of £15 million for the youngster last December (via The Sun).
What the story fails to appreciate is that Liverpool would staunchly oppose selling any of their best and brightest to United, for any price.
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Hideto Takahashi, a 25-year-old Japanese international, has emerged as a solid player over the course of the last couple of J League seasons.
The FC Tokyo central midfielder has been capped four times by his country but has nowhere near enough quality needed to play at Old Trafford.
It was the German source 4-4-2 who originally reported Sir Alex's apparent interest in Takahashi, a story that was naturally picked up and given more widespread coverage by the international media (h/t Caught Offside).
Unfortunately for the Japanese portion of United fans, it is one that rings almost entirely false.
What other unusual names have you seen recently linked with United?