Manchester United Transfer Prospects: 10 Potential Transfers for Summer
With the end of the 2012-13 campaign fast approaching, it beckons in the beginning of the mad transfer buzz which walks hand-in-hand with the footballing preseason.
The amount of summer transfer rumours that eventually pan out into reality can probably be equated to less than 20 percent of those speculated upon, but it is the magic of the unknown that makes this heated period so interesting.
Manchester United had one of their busiest and most notable summers over the warmer months of 2012, with PFA Player of the Year Robin van Persie, and Bundesliga player of the season Shinji Kagawa both making their way to the Old Trafford dressing room.
At this incredibly early stage, it is too soon for any potential moves to be taken all that seriously, but that hasn't stopped most people from spreading the hot gossip around once again.
United talisman Wayne Rooney has already been linked with a big money move away from the club, with PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid all being linked to the Liverpudlian.
However, this article isn't going to focus on those players who may be leaving the champions-elect, but rather those who might be making their way to the club.
Which players are being linked to the Red Devils?
Ezequiel Garay (Benfica)
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Benfica centre back Ezequiel Garay kicks off the list with rumours linking the Argentinian and United starting to appear over the back pages.
Garay was once on the books of Real Madrid and was considered one of the hotter properties in world football.
Since then things haven't exactly panned out the way the 26-year-old defender might have hoped, with his career taking somewhat of a downward turn after his time at the Galacticos came to an end.
This season, however, has seen a return to form, with all that unfulfilled potential starting to emerge.
Could he be on his way to Manchester?
It wouldn't be an utterly implausible transfer to take place, but at these early stages and with little more to go on than hearsay there certainly shouldn't be any United fans preparing for the man from Rosario's arrival.
United do need to sign a new, and relatively young, centre back over the summer to fill the void that will inevitably be left by the eventual decline from form of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Garay is one of many players who could fill this role.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
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Another centrally minded defender is the next player on United's radar. Despite signing a contract extension prior to the European Championships last summer, many fans believe that the Red Devils have the potential to lure the German and Dortmund first-teamer Hummels away from his motherland.
Touted as one of the best defenders in the world right now, the 24-year-old has proven his worth not only at club level, but also on the big stage—being one of the stand out performers in the Euros, and a crucial cog in Germany's so far successful attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The signing of Hummels would be perfect for United, not only in the short term but for the long haul also.
If Hummels is up for grabs, however, the Red Devils will no doubt face an almighty battle to bring him to the club (most probably from some of Europe's best and most powerful—we're talking Madrid and Barcelona).
It seems incredibly unlikely to me that if Hummels really was convinced to leave the current German Champions, United would be able to beat out all competition to acquire his signature. But then a similar thing happened with Robin van Persie this summer, so it is not totally beyond the world of possibility...just highly unlikely!
Hummels would be the closest thing to a perfect fit at United. A player of his calibre coming into an ageing defence could really make it his own, setting him up for legendary status in the future as the man that reshaped the United back four and took them to the top of the defensive food chain one again.
Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)
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Begovic finds himself included on this list purely out of the persistence of the Sky Sports and the BBC mentioning his name in correlation with a move to Manchester.
United don't really need a to sign a keeper over the summer—at least not one who they intend to play in the first team.
David de Gea has come under a lot of criticism since his arrival from Atletico Madrid, but the de Gea haters are happy to ignore the 627 minutes (not including stoppage time—which over the course of seven games probably equates to another 30-45 minutes) of football that the Spaniard has played in the league without conceding a goal.
Begovic is a talented keeper, but United do not need to move the man from Bosnia to Old Trafford.
I'd like to put a big fat zero in this column, but with the amount of speculation surrounding this transfer I wouldn't be totally shocked if Fergie does attempt some sort of move for Asmir (although it is still pretty unlikely to happen).
With de Gea, Lindegaard and the promising Ben Amos all on the United books it seems a waste of money to bring in Begovic and deprive Stoke of a solid keeper.
James Rodriguez (FC Porto)
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James Rodriguez is a player that seems somewhat destined to hook up with England's most successful football team some time in the near future.
For the best part of a year now, the Colombian has been pulled out of the crowd as one of the best prospects in regards to young midfielders on the market right now.
Currently playing his trade for Porto in the Portuguese Liga Sagres, Rodriguez has impressed many with his ability to not only create but also score a wide variety of goals in important matches.
Already a regular in a national side that includes Radamel Falcao, James has the potential to go on to greatness within the game. A move to United may be the perfect opportunity for the young starlet.
As stated above Rodriguez has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for the best part of a year now, and with continued reports that United are still scouting out the 21-year-old it seems like there may be a new south American midfielder arriving in Manchester relatively soon.
Rodriguez is a fantastic player and would, much like Hummels, bring a lot to the club in both the short and long term. United can certainly go on functioning without the Colombian, but his addition to the squad can only ever be a good thing.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
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Luka Modric was linked with a move to both Chelsea and Manchester United last season, before eventually the Spanish Champions swooped in and once again deprived the Red Devils of a world class player.
However, as this reporter suspected at the time of the deal, things have not gone as smoothly for Modric at the Bernabeu as he might have expected.
I never quite understood why Mourinho felt the need to sign the Croatian when Madrid already boasted one of the few players in the world who was better in the central play-making role than Modric in their team already.
Unsurprisingly with Mesut Oezil still playing football to the upper most level, Modric has found it incredibly difficult to find playing time for the Galacticos.
In contrast, United are in desperate need of a centrally attacking midfielder of this nature, and a move to Old Trafford would surely be in the best interests of both the player and the clubs involved.
This story hasn't been as hot as it was last summer, even at these early stages. It's really a coin toss right now as to whether Modric will find his way to Old Trafford. If Fergie feels he need's the Croat in the ranks though, the chances of his arrival may drastically increase.
Modric would be the perfect fit for a midfield that most United fans cannot help but admit pales in comparison to some of their nearest rivals. Luka could change that.
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
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Claudio Marchisio is possibly one of the most underrated players in world football.
Having consistently shone as an outstanding player not only for his club side Juventus, but also for the Italian national team, the man from Turin is one of the best midfielders in the game today.
Able to work incredibly hard both off and on the ball is a crucial aspect of any central midfielder's arsenal. Claudio exhibits this in abundance, with his box-to-box deploy ability being an integral part of Juventus's rise back to the top of world football after their relegation in 2006.
Working in the now famous "MVP" partnership (Marchisio, Vidal and Pirlo) at Juve, Claudio is a crucial cog in the immense success that teammate Andrea Pirlo has experienced over the past few seasons.
This role would also be a perfect aid in the cause of United's very own Michael Carrick, with Marchisio and another central midfielder (Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley etc.) able to draw players away from United's playmaker whilst at the same time providing simple passing opportunities when he comes under pressure himself.
Think of him like a potential Yaya Toure.
Turin born and bred, Claudio is a life long fan of the old lady of of football. This rumour has bounced around a fair bit for the past couple of years and it may just be a load of hot air once again.
This would be a fantastic signing for the reasons listed above. Unfortunately for United fans it probably wont happen.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
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For the best part of a year I've been pretty firmly camped on the side of football fans who believe that United simply don't need to sign Robert Lewandowski from German side Dortmund in the summer. However, I've had a change of heart.
With the slight dip in form of star striker Robin van Persie and the recent groin strain suffered by Wayne Rooney, the necessity for an out-and-out goalscorer has come to the forefront for the tablecloth army—who are currently lacking the clinical edge that they showed earlier in the season.
With Danny Welbeck unable to consistently get goals, and the rumours of a Spanish themed exit for Javier Hernandez, Lewandowski would be a very welcome addition to the United side.
For the second consecutive year, he looks like snatching the golden boot in the Bundesliga (even though his side are a whopping 20 points behind leaders Bayern).
The Pole has well and truly shown that last year wasn't a one off.
No transfer is ever a sure bet, but if the last year of press coverage is anything to go by, then Robert may well soon follow his former teammate Kagawa to Old Trafford. United will have to beat off competition from Arsenal and Munich to secure their man, however.
Lewandowski would make the already lethal United offence into one of the most deadly in the world.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the most colourful characters in the modern era. In truth, if it weren't for the fact that he also happens to be one of the most gifted footballers of his generation most people would probably be pretty sick of Ibra by now.
As it is, however, the big Swede has a cult following of loyal fans, having plied his trade for a plethora of different elite clubs.
Zlatan holds the record for most major European league championships with different sides, having won titles at Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona. This year it looks like he will be adding the French title to that list, as PSG find themselves well clear at the top of Ligue 1.
However despite having spent only one season in France, reports are suggesting that Ibra may well be making his first appearance in the Premier League some time soon, with a potential move to Manchester United.
For the most part, one has to believe this is all just hearsay—although it would make sense for a man who has openly stated before that he wants to win as many different titles across Europe as possible.
I just can't see this happening. To tempt him away from PSG, United would have to spend a lot of money that they simply don't have right now.
A fantastic player, but United don't need someone with Ibra's ego at the club potentially causing a problem in the dressing room like he did at Barca.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
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In what has possibly been one of the biggest turn arounds in the history of football, Gareth Bale has gone from being a running joke (as he spent a whopping 17 games in the Spurs side without his team winning a single match) to one of the most highly rated players in the world.
The change in form came after he was switched from left-back to his preferred position of left-wing (this kind of thing just makes me wonder what other players out there could be that much better if they were swapped around a bit in a formation).
Now Bale is linked with the greatest teams in Europe, from Barca and Madrid to City and United.
It seems somewhat inevitable that Tottenham Hotspur are going to lose their star player this summer, but which club will Gareth end up at?
United certainly have the upper hand in regards to their glaring need for a left-sided midfielder potentially luring the Welshman to the club. On top of that the Red Devils are a team that Bale is no doubt incredibly familiar with, having spent his entire career in England.
The only issue will be the monetary battle with some of the richer clubs in the fight for his signature. Can United compete with City like they did last summer for RVP? We'll see.
One can't help but see a United side with Bale, van Persie and Rooney (and maybe even Lewandowski) forming an unstoppable faction of offence.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
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Yes it's probably no surprise to most United fans that this man finds his way onto the list.
Whatever your view on the slightly Hollywood-esque nature of Ronaldo's potential transfer, one thing is for certain—the former Manchester United man has on more than one occasion voiced his mind about wishing to leave the Galacticos.
Most people are linking Ronnie with a move to big spenders PSG, whilst others have suggested that it's more than likely that Cron7 wont be leaving Madrid at all.
One thing is for certain though. If Ronaldo does return to United, then it can only be good for both the club and the player.
Despite United obviously lacking the cash required to sign a player of Ronaldo's quality, there have been outlandish rumours that sports company Nike might step in to fund the deal. The premise is that Nike (who use Ronaldo's image as one of their key spokes models, and manufacture United's kits) will inject money into the club so that they can market to the two businesses together. Will it happen though? It seems unlikely.
Its Cristiano Ronaldo.