David Moyes—the new Manchester United manager will be scrutinized during the transfer window.
At this time of year, transfer speculation seems to fall into one of three categories:
The Dream—a fun move that is rooted in fantasy. You want to believe.
The Plausible—transfer gossip with a shred of truth. You start to believe.
The Probable—a contract is up, the player wants a move, the club makes all the right noises. You believe.
Differentiating between the three is the challenge.
When the transfer window officially opens on July 1, so too does David Moyes’ tenure at Old Trafford.
It’s the dawn of a new era for the red half of Manchester. The Red Devils’ new manager will be in charge of his first game on August 17, but judgment begins before then.
The players that Moyes will sign, retain and move on will be held under a microscope—his every move analyzed and compared to those of predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson.
But who is likely to join Manchester United? There are the Dream players—think Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the Plausible—Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric. But which players fall into the Probable bracket? Who will transcend the gulf between gossip and reality?
Click through the next three slides to see which three players I have chosen. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below.
Kevin Strootman—in action for the Netherlands U-21 side vs. Germany U-21.
Kevin Strootman has all the hallmarks of a no-nonsense midfielder, seemingly made for the Premier League. Comparisons to former club captain Roy Keane have United fans murmuring in favour of the 23-year-old.
Strootman is captain at PSV Eindhoven, has worn the armband for the Dutch national team on two occasions and has been linked with the Old Trafford side for some time, as seen here in Matt Law’s 2012 piece in the Mirror
According to Charles Perrin of the Express, Manchester United chief scout Jim Lawlor watched the midfielder in the recent U-21 European Championships in Israel, and the club are close to making an offer.
Agent Chiel Dekker was quoted in the Express report as saying, "He is focussed on England because that would suit his style. He has the physique, the character and the fitness for it. I am certainly not afraid he could handle that level."
With three years remaining on his current contract at PSV, Strootman is said to be valued at £17 million, as noted here by James Dickenson in the Express.
It’s a good price for a highly rated young player who would be likely to fetch a good sell-on fee in the future.
If anyone fits the mold for one of Manchester United’s most pressing needs, it’s Strootman. United lack strength and creativity in midfield, with Michael Carrick their only stand-=out player in the center of the park last season.
Most of all United need a leader in midfield, a Roy Keane 2.0.
Strootman could be that player.
Everton's Leighton Baines.
A proven Premier League defender with a deadly left foot, Leighton Baines is one of the best left-backs in Europe.
Baines to Manchester United is a rumour that refuses to go away.
This time last year, the defender was linked with a move to Old Trafford, as seen here in the Manchester Evening News.
The 28-year-old was the only outfield player to feature in every minute of last season for Everton, scoring five goals and seven assists. He still has two years remaining on his current contract at Goodison Park, but this has done little to dispel the idea that he might be on his way to United, as Tim Rich reported in the Independent this month.
Talk of Patrice Evra’s Old Trafford departure adds weight to the story.
United’s first-choice left-back has been linked with a move to former club Monaco, as reported by David McDonnell and Neil McLeman in the Mirror. Evra has not faced serious competition for his position since Mikael Silvestre and Gabriel Heinze were at Old Trafford. The pair departed for Real Madrid in 2007 and Arsenal in 2008, respectively.
United could still get a reported £10 million if Evra is sold on, a fee that could look attractive considering the Frenchman is nearing 33.
There is an argument to suggest that 22-year-old Fabio Da Silva should be given an opportunity at United, following a loan spell at Queens Park Rangers. Or Alex Buttner, who scored on his debut for United after joining the side from Vitesse Arnhem in 2012.
However, Baines is already the finished article. An England international, he is proven and could be relied on both domestically and in Europe.
Baines also creates more goalscoring opportunities than anyone else in Europe, according to this report in the Daily Mail.
It won't be easy to pry him from Everton. In a bid to keep him, new manager Robert Martinez has even pledged to make Baines the club’s highest-paid player, as reported by David Anderson in the Mirror.
However, the Goodison Park side, owned by theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, are notoriously frugal spenders and may find a bid from Manchester United just too good to turn down.
Thiago Alcantara looks like he could be on his way to Manchester United.
His recent performances for Spain at U-21 level have come at the right time for heightened speculation linking him with the club—the player having scored a hat-trick in the European Championship final against Italy.
Alcantara has been on Barcelona's books since he was 14. Now 22, he is finding it difficult to get a run in the first team. It’s a common problem for midfielders whose peers include Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. The midfielder started just 15 games for Barca last season and was used as a substitute on 12 occasions.
The player’s buy-out fee has been reduced to £17 million, as reported by Jamie Jackson in the Guardian.
And, if the speculation is true, Manchester United have already agreed terms with the midfielder, as seen in Graeme Yorke’s story in the Daily Mail.
The Independent’s Jack de Menezes has also reported that United are “close” to signing Thiago.
Thiago has played for Spain at every youth level from U-16s and has made three appearances for the senior squad.
In a World Cup year, the midfielder will be looking to get a good run of games so that he can represent Spain in Brazil—the country of his parents’ birth. His father, Mazinho, won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994.
According to the Telegraph's Mark Ogden, United have £60 million to spend on reinforcements for the squad. At £17 million, Thiago represents a bargain and one that looks very likely to happen.