David Moyes’ tenure as Manchester United manager may not have got off to an easy start, but that doesn’t mean the club’s owners are about to throw patience out the window in favour of a knee-jerk approach to the situation.
According to the Guardian, the Glazer family will reportedly provide Moyes with upward of £50 million in transfer funds this January, the purpose of which will be the acquisition of players who can come in and do a job immediately.
United are ninth in the Premier League after seven matches and were made to look quite average at home to West Bromwich Albion late last month—a 2-1 defeat that seemed to force the Glazers into action.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that United could miss out on Champions League football going into next season, and, not surprisingly, the owners are desperate to ensure the side remains competitive in both the Premier League and Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
Following are five players Moyes is likely to target in the January transfer window, with some having been approached previously by United.
The bizarre circumstances that prevented United from landing Herrera during the summer revealed a lack of experience at the higher end of the transfer market on the parts of Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward, and neither are keen to repeat their past mistakes.
Earlier this week, Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia insisted the midfielder would be remaining at the club, according to the Daily Mail, although the 24-year-old’s £36 million buyout clause indicates he’s still there for the taking.
Herrera, however, isn’t exactly having the best of seasons at Bilbao and has so far played the full 90 minutes just once this season. But, at his best, he is a useful playmaker with a good defensive conscience.
Rio Ferdinand will turn 35 in November and is showing his age.
The veteran defender was woefully out of position on both goals in the West Brom defeat, and United are actively searching for a long-term replacement.
One centre-back who just might fit the bill is Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala.
Just 22, Mangala has been a part of two championship seasons at Porto and earned a call-up to the France national team earlier this year. He has since earned an additional two caps.
Tall, powerful and positionally sound, he plays a good first pass (he has completed 92 per cent of his passes in the Champions League this season, according to Squawka) and already has a history of success at the club level.
A cheaper option to Mangala is Ezequiel Garay, who has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in the past, according to the Metro.
Having just turned 27, Garay is in the prime years of his career and is slightly better in the air than Mangala. He is also getting consistent playing time with Argentina, whom he helped to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Benfica’s asking price would likely be around £20 million, but he would be able to come into the United squad straight away.
United missed out on Barcelona midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas during the summer, so perhaps third time’s the charm.
With Alex Song unhappy with his lack of first-team opportunities in the Catalan capital, according to the Express, it’s conceivable the reigning Primera Division champions could sell him for around the £16 million they paid Arsenal for him in 2012.
The physical Cameroon international has so far averaged four interceptions in his three La Liga matches this season (statistics courtesy WhoScored.com), and his defensive presence and passing ability (he has completed 93.5 per cent of his passes this term) would certainly be a boost to the United midfield.
Nineteen-year-old Ross Barkley has featured in all seven of Everton’s Premier League matches this season and the quality of his performances has earned him back-to-back call-ups to the England national side.
A midfielder who can operate in the very centre of the park, in an advanced role and on the right, Barkley has scored twice already this campaign and has completed an impressive 88 per cent of his passes (Squawka), many of them in the high-risk area of the attacking third.
Barkley is also accurate in a challenge and would provide the sort of energy and pizazz the United midfield so often lacks.
United are reportedly hopeful to acquire him in January, although it would take around £20 million to pry him from Goodison Park, according to the Mirror.