Manchester United: 7 Bold Potential Transfers for Sir Alex Ferguson This Summer
With Manchester United having claimed their 20th English league title during the current campaign, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has made it known that he'll be looking to strengthen his pack during the offseason.
"Having spoken with the Glazer family, there is every intention to kick on," Ferguson told the waiting press on Saturday (via Yahoo!). "We possibly need two players. It depends. If a player came along who met our criteria we would push the boat out and get him, irrespective of how many players we have."
Although United have been somewhat comfortable winners of the Premier League, disappointments in both the Champions League and FA Cup have suggested that improvements are certainly needed, particularly with rivals such as Manchester City and Chelsea likely to strengthen again this summer.
Additionally, speculation continues to mount with regards the sales of a number of players who have disappointed over the last 12-18 months, with the likes of Nani, Anderson and Luis Valencia having been mentioned as particularly close to the exit door (via Express).
With that in mind, here's a look at seven players who would be wise choices for the Red Devils to actively pursue during the coming months, with an eye to signing and subsequently strengthening their squad ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.
Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund)
With Paul Scholes expected to retire for the second time this summer, Tom Cleverley still developing, Anderson seemingly open to offers and Darren Flecher's career still somewhat in the balance, Borussia Dortmund's midfield general Ilkay Gundogan would be an ideal addition to a United midfield that has often been criticised for not being good enough when it comes to the European crunch.
The German international has been excellent for Dortmund throughout the course of the current campaign, despite them struggling to keep up with newly-crowned German champions Bayern Munich.
Gundogan has really pushed on from his promising debut season at the Westfalenstadion in 2011/12, making himself the first-choice central midfielder for manager Jurgen Klopp.
A clever passer with a tremendous work ethic, Gundogan's full range of attributes were on show as he put in an imperious performance in BVB's 4-1 victory over Real Madrid last week in the Champions League semi-final. Without question the German international would be an ideal partner in the United engine room for England midfielder Michael Carrick.
Signed for a measly €4 million from FC Nurnberg in 2011, the 22-year-old would likely cost in excess of €15 million if he were to walk the same road as Shinji Kagawa did last summer, such has been his emergence in Germany's northwest.
Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven)
Similar to Gundogan, PSV Eindhoven midfielder Kevin Strootman is a tremendous all-action midfielder, who has enjoyed a somewhat meteoric rise over the last nine months or so.
Untainted by the Netherlands Euro 2012 nightmare, Strootman has since become an integral part of the national side under Louis van Gaal, captaining his country in their World Cup 2014 qualification matches against Estonia and Romania in March.
Strootman has improved immeasurably during his two years at the Phillips Stadion since joining the club in a double-deal with Dries Mertens from Utrecht in 2011.
His cultured left foot has begun to dominate rather than merely decorate games, whilst he has also become a visibly more intelligent player during his time with the one-time European Cup winners.
Additionally, with eight goals in 34 games from his position in the double-pivot alongside Mark van Bommel in PSV's midfield this season, Strootman has enjoyed the best scoring campaign of his fledgling career thus far.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
Another star of Jurgen Klopp's excellent Dortmund side, defender Mats Hummels has become one of Europe's most talented and decisive defenders during his four years at the Westfalenstadion.
With Rio Ferdinand now 35 and Nemanja Vidic showing the signs of year's of wear and tear, United could well be in need of a new defensive rock.
And the 24-year-old certainly fits the bill.
Not only is Hummels physically imposing, but he's also extremely gifted technically, with a wonderful passing range. Moreover, he has developed into a leader amongst his peers at BVB, and it's noticeable that such leadership qualities are missing from Die Borussen backline when he's absent.
Any deal to take the German international to Old Trafford would likely be expensive, particularly with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid said to be interested in securing Hummels services this summer.
However, Ferguson showed 11 years ago that he wasn't afraid to spend big to get his man when he purchased Ferdinand from Leeds for £30 million, and he may be willing to do likewise if it means securing Hummels for the next decade.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder Isco has enjoyed another excellent season.
Benefiting from the management of Manuel Pellegrini, an aesthetically pleasing Malaga side made their way to the Champions League quarter-finals, whilst they also lie in sixth place in La Liga, with Isco the creative fulcrum.
The diminutive Spanish international, from the David Silva school of wizardry, has continued to improve and has been become a beacon of hope for the supporters of Los Boquerones in what are some of the grandest days in the club's history.
However, the Andalusian club continue to struggle financially, and the 2012 Tuttosport Golden Boy trophy winner is their prized asset, with a release fee in his contract set at €30 million.
As such, he is expected to be sold in the summer, and United's chief scout Martin Ferguson has been a keen onlooker at La Rosaleda in recent months.
With the likes of Nani, Anderson and Ashley Young having struggled this season and their futures uncertain, the fleet-footed Isco, with his ability to play in a variety of positions throughout the midfield, could prove to be too good an opportunity to miss for the Reds.
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Perhaps the purest of No. 9's in world football at present, Radamel Falcao looks set to depart Atletico Madrid this summer, and Old Trafford would be a prime destination for the Colombian international.
Lethal in the penalty area, technically gifted and strong in the air, Falcao has been consistently outstanding over the last three years, first in Portugal with Porto before his arrival at the Vicente Calderon.
His 68 goals in 86 games and crucial role in Atleti's 2012 Europa League triumph have made Falcao an icon for Los Colchoneros supporters.
Nevertheless, the club's debt continues hover over the club, and he is undoubtedly their greatest asset.
With Wayne Rooney's future remaining uncertain, El Tigre would perhaps be the ideal replacement; A partnership of him and Robin van Persie would certainly give United's opponents, not just in England, but also across Europe, something to fear.
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
The 17-year-old left-back has enjoyed a tremendous breakthrough season with Southampton and has proven that he can already handle himself at Premier League level.
A more-than-capable defender, also good on the ball and capable of adding to his sides attacking play, Shaw looks set for a long and distinguished career.
As such, if United were to steal a march and make an early move for Shaw, then they could get the England under-21 international for a relatively cheap figure, especially compared with what he could cost in future.
Patrice Evra has a couple of years left in him yet, despite the occasional lacklustre performance, but his deputy Alex Buttner is still to suitably impress.
No question Shaw will be the long-term successor to Ashley Cole at international level, but he'd also be an intelligent signing for United today.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
With the veteran midfielder's future at Chelsea still very much up in the air and his contract dwindling down, a goalscoring midfielder who is proven at Premier League and European level and available on a free transfer is something that no club can turn their nose at.
Including Manchester United.
The Reds were linked with Lampard during Andre Villas-Boas' tenure at Stamford Bridge, when the England international was repeatedly left on the substitutes bench by the then-Chelsea manager.
Since then, he has captained the Blues to their 2012 Champions League final success over Bayern Munich and has gone on to net his 200th goal for the west London club.
Aged 35, Lampard's days of playing 90 minutes every week are perhaps over.
However, in a similar role to that of Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, Lampard's experience and know how of what it takes to win medals at the highest levels of the club game could prove invaluable to the younger members of United's squad.