Ranking the Likelihood of Manchester United's Summer Transfer Targets
June, July and August are always the most fascinating months of the year for any stalwart football fan.
Despite very little of the beautiful game even being played during the summer, this is the time when rumors are aplenty, and all sorts of outlandish claims worm their way out of the woodwork.
This year has been no exception, with Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United already being linked with a plethora of players from all across the globe.
From left-backs to centre-forwards, United are apparently after them all!
Of course, anyone who has watched football for more than a few seasons will realize that a lot of this is just smoke in the wind, with many of the supposed deals having no real validity.
This article intends to tackle the question of which of the moves we've all had rammed down our throats in the past few weeks is most likely to happen, starting with the least likely, and concluding with that deal which seems most legitimate.
So lets get started.
9. Cesc Fabregas
I just cannot see in what world this transfer could possibly go through without either Arsenal or Barcelona having a huge say in the matter.
For one thing, it appears as though Cesc has finally landed on his feet with the Spanish Champions, and over the course of the past season, he has become a regular starter to Tito Vilanova's men.
Factor in that Fabregas was crying out for a move to Barca for the best part of two years to reunite with all of his old friends, and one has to wonder how this story ever got off the ground.
It seems as though Cesc is as secure at Barca as a player possibly can be, according to Joe Mewis of Mirror Football.
Besides that, even if for some obscure reason he did decide to leave the club, Arsenal would have first refusal over their former midfielder.
One cannot see the North Londoners turning down a chance to re-sign the Spaniard who brought them to the brink of Premier League glory.
All in all, this move is not going to happen.
8. Edinson Cavani
With both Real Madrid and Manchester City showing a keen interest in Napoli's Edinson Cavani, it seems unlikely that David Moyes will make much of an effort to try and lure the Uruguayan away from a big money move.
United don't need Cavani.
And they certainly don't need to splash out in excess of £50 million for him at any rate, via Alan Nixon of Mirror Football.
Aside from the fact that the transfer would make little to no sense, it appears as if any story revolving around the striker hooking up with the Red Devils is mainly hearsay and speculation as opposed to be being based in any real fact.
Cavani will not be playing in the red of Manchester this season.
7. Marouane Fellaini
The Everton central midfielder has been on the radar of the League's best clubs since this time last year, and his performances in the 2012-13 Barclays Premier League campaign reinforced exactly what a high quality player he is.
It had seemed—that with David Moyes' move to United—as though this would be the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to land the Belgian, with the former Toffees boss potentially luring Fellaini away from Goodison, per Massimo Marioni of Metro.
However, frustratingly from a United perspective, there has been little to no news of a move for the Afro-haired wonder so far this June.
There is still time for something to happen, but with Arsenal already testing the waters, it may be too little too late by the time United do eventually decide to act.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
This would literally be the biggest move in the history of world football if it happened, per Neil Custis of The Sun.
This writer just doesn't see it happening.
That's not to say that the transfer is as impossible as some footballing pundits have deemed it.
With Ronaldo obviously still holding a special place in his heart for United (as exhibited during Real Madrid's Champions League clash with the Red Devils last season), David Moyes' men have a huge upper hand over the likes of PSG.
However, money is a huge factor in the modern game, and that is something which PSG have in abundance.
All of this is assuming that Ronnie eventually ends up leaving Madrid. So far, he is still a Real player, and with this story going a little quiet over the past few weeks, one has to assume that this fairy tale return won't happen.
A man can dream though.
5. Gareth Bale
Now we're starting to get into the players who genuinely could find their way to Old Trafford this summer.
Gareth Bale has had one of the most intriguing careers in the history of the game.
Having at one time gone on a run that saw him fail to win 17 consecutive games for Tottenham Hotspur, he is now being touted as one of the greatest footballers currently playing.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Bale has become one of the hottest properties around.
United are going to have to cough up a lot of cash if they want to land this fellow, noted by Barry Glendenning of The Guardian, with the Spurs obviously keen to hold onto their ace winger.
Money is the issue here. The move makes perfect sense, but if Tottenham stand by the £50-60 million price tag they set at the end of the season, then United may find themselves missing out.
4. Robert Lewandowski
Whilst United don't really need another striker right now, Lewandowski (unlike Cavani) brings enough extra to the table to really make this deal worth while.
It had seemed for a while like Robert was almost certainly on his way to Borussia Dortmund's bitter rivals Bayern Munich, but with the club effectively banning this transfer from being allowed, the Pole will have to turn his attentions elsewhere for a move away, via David Anderson of Mirror Football.
United will more than likely have to compete with Premier League rivals in the form of Man City and Chelsea if they want to get their man here.
Whilst Lewandowski is a good player, and would bring a lot to the club, it would certainly not be disastrous if United failed to bring him Manchester.
Attention needs to be turned towards the midfield primarily.
3. Leighton Baines
It had seemed for a long while like United had simply forgotten about their pursuit for this man.
That was until earlier this week, when it had been announced that a £12 million bid for the Everton left-back had been rejected by the Toffees.
Whilst this is on the surface a negative outcome, in the long-term, it's great news for United fans.
The intention to bring the England star to the club has been made more than apparent now, and with the rumor mill claiming that Everton would take £18 million for their star man, United now have a much clearer idea of whether or not they can afford Baines, as ESPN notes.
The £18 million price tage for a player of Leighton's quality seems like something of a bargain. Having already proven himself for the best part of half a decade in the EPL, United know exactly what they are getting from their target.
With the greatest of respect to the Merseyside club, Baines deserves to be at a team playing Champions League football.
Following his former manager to Old Trafford would make perfect sense for both player and club.
2. Kevin Strootman
In theory, if United want to sign Kevin Strootman from PSV, then it should be relative peanuts, per Ed Malyon of Mirror Football.
Whilst last summer saw United miss out on two wonderful youth talents (Lucas Moura and Eden Hazard), this is a completely different kettle of fish, with there apparently being no real contest with any other elite teams for the Dutchman.
The midfielder is a very talented young player and would be a fantastic long-term addition to the Red Devils squad.
I would be incredibly shocked if United had not wrapped up this summer by the end of this years transfer window.
1. Thiago Alcantara
I'm aware that by placing Thiago at the top of this list, I am dicing with death in regards to jinxing what now seems like a done deal.
Thiago has been desperate for a move away from Barcelona for a while now, with the Spanish midfielder painfully aware that he will struggle to break into the Blaugrana first XI with the recent acquisition of wonder-kid Neymar.
United have shown the keenest interest out of any side in Europe to sign the son of former World Cup winner Mazinho, and have even allegedly reached an agreement with the player and his father (who doubles up as his agent) to come to the club, per Chris Wheeler of The Daily Mail.
Some fans are even speculating that the transfer could be done as soon as this time next week, with David Moyes already having the deal lined up.
Mazinho has also commented on how the whole Alcantara family might be relocating to Manchester soon, with a potential loan deal for Thiago's little brother Rafa also potentially taking place, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC.
This is all hearsay of course, but after a solid month of talks between the player and United, it has a lot more validity than a lot of nonsense that has been spouted about other players on this list.
All in all it seems as though this one is on the brink of being finalized.
United fans will be crossing as many fingers and toes as possible that it is ASAP.