5 Midfielders Manchester United Should Target This January
With Manchester United failing to impress many during this summer's transfer window, I thought I would look ahead to January, and provide United fan's with a small selection of players who the club would do well to sign over the winter period.
Of course, some of the names in this list are less likely than others to join up with the Red Devils. However, readers should remember that is a selection of superstars who would slot well into the United midfield, as opposed to a group of players that are already being linked to the team.
Some of these players have not been mentioned in the same sentence as United before, and as such probably wont be making any dramatic January moves to Old Trafford.
However, while this is true, it's still fun to imagine what it would be like if said players were to join up with the English Champions—even if it is only for fantasy purposes.
For each player I've provided a ranking between one to 10 of how likely it is that the club will in fact end up targeting the midfielder in question, with one being the lowest likelihood, and 10 the highest.
So, without further ado, let's see who makes the grade.
Juventus' Arturo Vidal had one of the best seasons of his career during the 2012-13 Serie A campaign, helping to guide his side to their second consecutive title.
The 26-year-old Chilean earned the respect and plaudits of many across the footballing globe, with weekly world class displays catching the attention of some of Europe's elite clubs.
As an integral part of the increasingly popular MVP (Claudio Marchisio, Vidal and Andrea Pirlo) partnership, Arturo has proven his ability to consistently go toe to toe with some of the best players the world has to offer.
Naturally taking up a position as a box-to-box midfielder, the Chilean's style of play could be exactly what United need to solidify that central midfield which has caused fan's a headache for the past few seasons.
Likelihood of happening: 3/10
While this would be a fantastic signing for the Red Devils, it seems unlikely that Vidal would decide to leave the club where he is starting to help forge a new piece of Italian footballing history, for a team in an incredibly transitional period.
On top of that, Juve would fight tooth and nail to keep their man—and with United's current dip in form, would probably not have to try too hard to ensure that Vidal remains with the Old Lady.
Marco Reus is probably one of the most exciting players in the world right now—at least in terms of talent and potential.
Although no longer a fresh faced youth player, Reus, now aged 24, still has the ability to improve further upon the elite levels of ability that he has already has already exhibited.
Currently playing just behind Robert Lewandowski in the Borussia Dortmund midfield, the former Gladbach man has been one of the stand out players in the Bundesliga thus far this season—only building further on the hype that surrounds him.
Marco has the rare ability to not only be one of the best creative players in the league, but also one of the deadliest finishers when given the chance.
Having already found the net four times in just eight appearances for Dortmund this season, it appears as though his contribution to the side may well be a key factor in Die Schwarzgelben's attempts to win back their German crown.
Likelihood of happening: 5/10
Borussia Dortmund have, somewhat frustratingly, become something of a feeder club for the rest of the top sides in Europe over the past four years. If Reus played for any other top Champions League contending side, then he would more than likely be retained without issue.
However, for a team like Dortmund it isn't always easy to hold onto your best players, however good you may be as a side (Think back to Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze and the impending departure of Robert Lewandowski).
This factor alone gives United a genuine chance if they really want Reus—although it's more likely that if a deal did happen, it would be in the summer.
With the Independent reporting that Kagawa may well be on his way back to Dortmund, this could set up a potential deal between the two clubs which may make Reus' price tag a little lower. If it does, then United have a chance.
However, it is believed that rather than bidding for Reus, United will use this swap deal to bring in center-back Nevan Subotic, so any Red Devils fans getting their hopes up should probably put the champagne back on ice.
After the madness of this summer's transfer deadline day, there probably aren't that many United fans who are surprised to see Athletico Bilbao's Ander Herrera on this list.
I don't think many people are still exactly sure what happened on that day—but one thing that is certain is that this young man is one of the most promising youth talents in Spanish football.
Whether or not that justifies triggering his release clause (which will be in the region of £30 million) is yet to be seen. But if United want to challenge for the title in the coming seasons, then maybe they need to take a chance on a player like Herrera.
Likelihood of happening: 8/10
It's fairly apparent that David Moyes and company are interested in the signing the 24-year-old man from Bilbao—whether or not they are willing to splash the cash to bring him to Old Trafford is another story.
Having had a £24 million bid rejected in August (Sky Sports), it's likely that Moyes will have to match the midfielder's release clause if he wants to get his man.
If United's poor start to the season has continued for as long as January, then that may well happen out of desperation.
It was a toss up over which of the Bender brothers I added to this list. As I've already listed Reus for Dortmund, it only seemed fair to BVB that Leverkusen fans should bite their nails a little over a potential exit also.
Lars Bender has become one of Bayer Leverkusen's most important players over the past few campaigns.
Having signed from 1860 Munich in 2009, the German International has gone on to be a shining star under which many fantastic Leverkusen performances have prospered.
Against European and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Saturday, Lars was able to keep the devastatingly lethal Munich midfield relatively quiet, as his side picked up a hard-earned 1-1 draw.
Leverkusen currently sit just a point behind Bayern, and level on points with Dortmund in second.
While this is obviously a result of a great team performance, a huge amount of credit should go to Bender, who has once again stood out as one of the better players in a talented squad.
Likelihood of happening: In January 3/10, In summer 6/10
I would be shocked if Leverkusen let one of their best players go half-way through the campaign.
However, if Bender continues to impress and has a similar season to some previous years, then I would not be at all shocked to see a side like United go in for the man from Rosenheim.
United and David Moyes have already played Bender's side this year in the UCL, and will do so again in Leverkusen later this year.
If he puts in a good performance in their home tie, then David Moyes may well be encouraged to keep a beady eye on the German.
Last, and by no means least, is Everton's teenage sensation, Ross Barkley.
The 19-year-old Liverpudlian has made a huge impact on the Premier League already this year, with some of his showings making managers even outside of England take note.
Playing as an attacking midfielder, sitting just behind the Toffees centre-forward, Barkley has shown a prowess to score and create goals with consummate ease for one as young as he is.
Bringing a player so young but already with so much first team experience in the Premier League to Old Trafford would be a brilliant move on the part of United's new manager.
It's something he should definitely already be thinking about as January slowly creeps towards us.
Likelihood of happening: 8.5/10
Everton won't let an incredibly promising talent like Barkley go all that easily—as shown by their ability to hold onto Leighton Baines this summer—and as such United have a real fight on their hands if they want to snag Barkley's signature.
What gives the Red Devils the upper hand is the promise of Champions League football, and the strong ties that Barkley no doubt already shares with former Everton boss, David Moyes.
These connections were enough to see Marouane Fellaini eventually join up with the Red Devils, and may well be enough this winter to see Barkley follow his former Everton teammate to the theater of dreams.