Manchester United may very well be without star striker-turned-midfielder Wayne Rooney next season, after manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that Rooney has asked for a transfer from the club. And as Matt Law of The Daily Mirror points out, that fact alone should suggest a transfer is on the cards.
The biggest question then for United is how they can replace the England international and which players they could bring in this summer to do just that.
With a strong transfer budget at their disposal, the Red Devils could well find themselves in the running for a number of players to replace Rooney next year.
Read on to see who those players could be.
Marouane Fellaini, Everton
Having already been linked with a move to Manchester United previously, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has emerged as one of the more likely stars to replace Rooney given that his current manager, David Moyes, will be managing the Red Devils next season.
Fellaini has spoken about his desire to remain with Everton (per the Metro) but also indicated that he wanted to play in the UEFA Champions League. And given his strong relationship with Moyes, the thinking is that the Toffees boss could be the man to make that happen.
If any manager is going to know how good Fellaini can be, it's Moyes.
Thus, if anyone is going to sign the bulking Belgian international over the summer transfer window, you'd have to think that it would be wherever Moyes is at.
Fellaini would be a great fit in behind United and would offer great assistance to Robin van Persie at the top of the attack. His physical presence and ability to drive forward on goal would give the Dutchman plenty of chances, and perhaps even create a little bit of space for star goal-scorer.
Which could mean even bigger things for United next season.
Current transfer value: £24.5 million
A move for Malaga playmaker Isco has seemingly been in the cards ever since it was revealed that the Spanish club had huge financial problems and needed money.
Yet every time it seemed the rumors were shut down because there was no "need" for Isco—that is, they had Rooney in the central attacking midfielder role and they had Shinji Kagawa to help as well—making a move for the Spaniard an unnecessary luxury they could utilize more effectively.
Until now, it seems.
With Rooney gone, United find themselves with a massive hole in the middle of the field, and Isco could very well be the man to fill that hole next season.
The Daily Mirror reports that United will battle Manchester City for Isco this summer, and you'd have to think that if Rooney goes, United will find themselves with a) a very strong transfer budget, and b) the need and desire to sign a central playmaker more than the Citizens do.
Isco did sign a new deal with the club over the 2012 summer transfer window, but the deal also includes a buy-out clause of £30 million (per Sky Sports). And with the money they'd get from selling Rooney, you'd have to think that that figure is not at all out of reach for United.
Current transfer value: £17.5 million, £30 million buy-out clause
Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur
Andre Villas-Boas has already spoken about his desire to keep Gareth Bale from Manchester United this summer (via the Metro), and the reality is that in his current form, the Welsh winger would probably command a transfer fee and salary that is simply ridiculous for any club to try and match.
However, there is little doubting that he could replace Rooney—playing on the left hand side of the field and allowing Kagawa to operate throughout the middle.
That pair would likely swap back and forth and cause havoc for defenses around the league. And with Robin van Persie ahead of them, there's no doubting that the Red Devils would continue to have one of the most potent attacks in the league.
I can't see United paying the money that Spurs would require to sell Bale (not this summer, anyway), but there's certainly no doubting that Bale could replace the Englishman at Old Trafford. After all, Bale is only 23 years old, so there's plenty of time for a potential transfer bid to be made.
Current transfer value: £37 million