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Scouting 10 Rumoured January Targets for Manchester United

Laura GreeneFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2013

Scouting 10 Rumoured January Targets for Manchester United

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Manchester United's summer transfer dealings left a lot to be desired, but will they make up for it in January?

    David Moyes has been at pains to play down speculation that the club will spend big in the new year, but perhaps we'll see one or two new faces arriving at Old Trafford.

    The transfer window may still be months away, but several names have already been rumoured to be on their way to the red half of Manchester.

    Over the following slides, we give you the lowdown on 10 players who have been linked with the Red Devils.

    Who would be your pick of the crop? Let us know in the comments section below.

Remy Cabella

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    Position: Attacking Midfielder

    Current Club: Montpellier

    This Season: Eight Ligue 1 games. Five goals. Four assists

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    It's no surprise that Manchester United have been linked to Remy Cabella.

    The playmaker has been at Montepellier since 2009, he won Ligue 1 with the side in 2011-12, and he seems to be going from strength to strength.

    Pacy, creative and with a good shot on goal, Cabella's best position is playing behind the striker, and he can also operate on the right wing. With United's lack of creativity in midfield, Antonio Valencia's lacklustre performances, coupled with David Moyes' apparent reluctance to field Shinji Kagawa or Wilfried Zaha, Cabella could take on a number of roles at Old Trafford.  

    Cabella's performances last season saw club president Louis Nicollin value him at €100 million.

    "He is non-transferable," Nicollin told Radio Monte Carlo, via Skysports.com.

    "We try to anticipate and plan things, even in football, but it's complicated," he said. "The desire of the club is to keep Remy—he was told and knows this. If a club arrives and offers €10 0million, it will be discussed though."

    According to Jamie Sanderson in Metro, United are the frontrunners in the bid to sign the Frenchman this January, amid interest from Arsenal and Inter Milan

    The 23-year-old, who bears more than a passing resemblance to former teammate Olivier Giroud, has spoken of his desire to play Champions League football, as seen on talkSPORT, and he would be eligible to play in Europe should United sign him this winter.

    It's highly unlikely that Moyes' side would part ways with enough cash to meet Montpellier's high valuation of the player, but a suitable bid may see the French side cashing in. 

     

Ander Herrera

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Position: Central midfield/attacking midfield

    Current Club: Athletic Bilbao 

    This season: Seven La Liga games

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    Ander Herrera—his face may not be familiar to all—but his name is already etched into the minds of Manchester United fans.

    A botched attempt to bring Herrera to Old Trafford on deadline day ended amid allegations of "imposters" representing United in Spain.

    It later emerged that negotiations faltered because of the 24-year-old's £30.5 million release clause and a failure, from United's standpoint, to understand the complex legalities of the transfer, as reported by the Guardian's Sid Lowe.

    Failed advances aside, the player looks like he'd be a perfect fit at United. A young, gifted midfielder, Herrera can play a variety of positions and would offer something to fill that glaring Paul Scholes-shaped hole in the center of the park.

    Like Scholes, the baby-faced Spaniard possesses amazing vision and an excellent first touch. He has great technique, likes to play a short, passing style and, perhaps unlike United's former hero, is an efficient tackler.

    In fact, according to Squawka, Herrera's aggressive defending saw him win more tackles last season than Frank Lampard, Yaya Toure and Jack Wilshere combined. 

    The Spaniard is not the best in front of goal, having scored just six in 96 games for Bilbao, and he also needs to work on his possession. However, at 24, he has years ahead of him and his positive attributes outweigh the areas that need work. 

    Eligible to play Champions League football, Herrera would be a key component for United as they aim to get their season back on track.

    According to the Daily Mail's Graeme Yorke, United scouts are still watching Herrera in La Liga. Perhaps the Red Devils will be more successful next time around.  

     

     

     

Leighton Baines

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    Position: Left-back

    Current Club: Everton

    This Season: Seven Premier League games. Two goals

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    Leighton Baines needs little introduction. The Everton defender has been one of the Premier League's most solid performers in recent years. He has also become one of the players most consistently linked with a move to Manchester United.

    Speculation linking the 28-year-old intensified, as expected, when former Everton manager David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson. Over the summer, the Toffees declined United's advances for the left-back, as seen on the BBC Sport website. 

    In an interview with the Independent, Everton coach Alan Stubbs made it known that Baines had wanted to join Moyes at Old Trafford, but was denied a move.

    It's likely that United will make another attempt to sign the Englishman in January. But what would they get for their money?

    Baines is a defender first and foremost but his best work comes in the final third of the pitch, where he creates a multitude of chances with his precision passing, eye for goal and incredible set-piece delivery. Last season, he created 116 chances for his Everton teammates, sent 241 crosses into the penalty area and scored five goals in the Premier League. 

    The 28-year-old played every minute of every game in the top flight last season—he is consistent, suffers little from injury and is currently at the top of his game.

    His performances in a blue shirt have seen him become a regular for England, where he is currently threatening to depose Ashley Cole permanently as first-choice left-back.

    At 32, Patrice Evra is nearing the end of his days at United and Baines seems like the perfect candidate to slot into Moyes' side.

    Will Everton let him leave in January? Watch this space.

     

Zakaria Bakkali

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Age: 17

    Position: Striker/right wing

    Current Club: PSV Eindhoven

    This Season: Seven Eredivisie games. Three goals

    Show-reel: Watch here

     

    According to Richard Arrowsmith in the Daily Mail, Manchester United and Manchester City are both tracking Zakaria Bakkali.

    Bakkali is already starting to carve out quite a reputation in the Eredivisie. This is his first full season with PSV and he has introduced himself in style, scoring a hat-trick in the second game of the season against NEC Nijmegen and becoming the youngest player to do so at 17 years and 196 days.

    The Belgian has also drawn comparisons with fellow countryman Eden Hazard. National team coach Marc Wimots recently called up Bakkali for games against Croatia and Wales. He commented to Ben Jefferson of the Express on Bakkali's play: "Zakaria is a player who scores easily, is very fast and has skillful dribbling. Zakaria has just about the same profile as Eden [Hazard]. If something happens to Eden, I will swap him [for Bakkali]."

    As he displays in the show-reel above, Bakkali is a gifted winger. Good with both feet and a great dribbler he can be used on either flank, which would go down well at Old Trafford. He likes to cut inside and shoot from long range, he's strong and he is really, really quick. 

    Where he lacks is in defensive duties. As detailed on Squawka, Bakkali has not made a single defendive contribution for PSV this season, despite featuring in seven games. 

    Bakkali turns 18 in January, which is when he would be eligible to sign a long-term deal, as a professional, with PSV. However, clubs in the Premier League are also looking at this as a time to swoop for the youngster.

    According to the Mirror's Simon Mullock, Arsenal have also been linked with the 17-year-old.

Will Hughes

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    Tom Dulat/Getty Images

    Age: 18

    Position: Central midfield

    Current Club: Derby County

    This Season: 11 Championship games. Two goals. One assist

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    It's not often that you find an 18-year-old playing in the Championship with Derby County, yet mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona. 

    Will Hughes has bucked that trend.

    The young midfielder has been at Pride Park since 2011, where his performances for the reserves saw him gain a speedy entry to the first team at the age of 16.

    Last season saw him secure a regular berth in the side, playing 35 times throughout the course of the Championship campaign.

    His performances last term attracted interest from a raft of Premier League sides, including Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, as seen in the Telegraph.

    Even Barcelona were said to be interested in Hughes, following his assured displays at an U-17s tournament in Portugal, reported here in the Mirror

    For his age, Hughes is an incredibly composed player. He is creative, possesses an excellent shot from long range and has a real ability to drift into space and thread through killer passes. He is also very capable defensively. His man-of-the-match performance against Leeds United last season, showcased all his skills. 

    Former Rams boss Nigel Clough told the BBC last season:

    People say 'is he really only 17?' It is like having a senior pro in the team. His composure belies his age and there are not many 17-year-olds in the country playing to the standard that he is; it sets him apart.

    According to Jack De Menezes in the Independent, Manchester United are the latest big club to be interested in securing Hughes' services, with new Derby manager Steve McClaren admitting it will be hard to keep hold of the player this January: "Eventually he will be too good. What we need behind that is players coming through to replace him."

Eliaquim Mangala

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Position: Centre-back

    Current Club: FC Porto

    This season: Six Primeira Liga games

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    Eliaquim Mangala has been attracting interest from some of Europe's top clubs. He is, according to the Express' Ben Jefferson, currently being watched by Monaco, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City. 

    According to Daniel Taylor, in the Guardian, Mangala could be lined up as a potential replacement for Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford—he is a big, strong, physical presence who has great aerial ability and can also weigh in with the occasional goal.

    Taylor commented: "United have not fully ruled out Ferdinand staying another year but, as it stands, they consider it unlikely and the club's scouting staff will be regular visitors at Porto matches this season to compile detailed reports on Mangala."

    The 22-year-old has been at Porto since 2011, signing for the club after coming through the ranks at Standard Liege. His strong performances for the Portuguese side have established him as one of the best up and coming central defenders in Europe.

    Last season was his best yet: In the 23 Primeira Liga performances Mangala was involved in, Porto kept 17 clean sheets. His side remained unbeaten all season and they successfully defended their title as league winners. Mangala also notched four goals over the course of the campaign. 

    The French international's current contract expires in 2016 but he has a release clause which is set at a reported £37.5 million. 

    This week, Neil McLeman wrote in the Mirror that Mangala now shares an agent with Jose Mourinho, which has added to rumours linking him with Stamford Bridge. The agent in question, Jorge Mendes, also has strong links with Manchester United, as he represents Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Anderson and David de Gea.

     

     

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/football/premierleague/article3880434.ece

Ilkay Gundogan

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    Alex Grimm/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Position: Central midfield

    Current Club: Borussia Dortmund

    This Season: One Bundesliga game

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    Ilkay Gundogan has been sidelined through injury for much of the season, featuring in just one Bundesliga game for Borussia Dortmund so far. 

    Born and bred in Gelsenkirchen, the 22-year-old German has been at Signal Iduna Park for two years. There was much expected of him in his first season at the club, but it was not as successful as he'd hoped. He commented on Bundesliga.com at the time: "It was tough. Things hadn't gone as well as I had thought. The coach [Jurgen Klopp] was right to take me out of the team and protect me. It did me good to take a step back and regain some perspective."

    Last term, he flourished and was a key component in Dortmund's journey to the Champions League final at Wembley. Most notably for his performances in the semi-final against Real Madrid, some of the praise Gundogan received for his part in the win came from Goal.com:

    It was his well-weighted pass to Gotze that was the real catalyst to the opening goal. Was extremely impressive as a pivot as he was ever available to receive possession, which was inevitably used in a sensible manner. Nearly scored a stunning fourth after beating two players. A truly indefatigable display.

    This season, despite being absent through injury, Gundogan has been linked with a move away from Dortmund. This week, the Express' Ben Jefferson claims that Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal will all be lining up bids in January. 

    The deep-lying playmaker is exactly the sort of player that David Moyes needs at United. He plays well defensively, possesses a fantastic range of passing, maintains a tireless work rate and rarely gives the ball away. He's calm and assured and manages to dictate the pace of a game. He is often the starting point for most of Dortmund's attacking moves.  

    The Daily Star's Jack Wilson reckons that United are "ready to move" for Gundogan in January. The player is said to be in talks, regarding his current contract which runs out in 2015. Quoted in the Daily Star, Gundogan said: "I am not going to make statements on the contents of those talks. Everyone has to be patient about it, just like I have to be patient in terms of my current injury."

    I am not going to make statements on the contents of those talks.

    "Everyone has to be patient about it, just like I have to be patient in terms of my current injury.

Asmir Begovic

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Current Club: Stoke City

    This Season: Seven Premier League games. Two clean sheets

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    According to a report by James Dickenson in the Express this week, Asmir Begovic has been told he can leave Stoke City during the January transfer window. 

    After being linked to a number of top Premier League clubs, the 26-year-old was widely tipped to be on his way out of the Britannia Stadium over the summer. The Mirror claimed that he could sign for Chelsea or Arsenal, whereas the Guardian suggested that Manchester United and Fulham were also interested. 

    There's no doubt about it: Begovic is a top-level keeper, and it's unlikely that he'll stay at Stoke beyond the current season. The native of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been one of his side's most valuable players since taking over from Thomas Sorensen in 2010, and he has a full skill set that any team would welcome.

    Good at crosses, set-pieces and shot stopping, Begovic kept 12 clean sheets in the top flight last season. Only Joe Hart, Petr Cech and Pepe Reina had a better record.

    This season, Begovic has already shown why he's one of the best keepers in the division. In the season-opener against Liverpool, the 26-year-old made no fewer than 10 saves in a match where 20 shots rained down on the Stoke goal. That the game ended in a 1-0 loss was credit to the keeper's abilities. 

    Stoke chairman Peter Coates told the Express this week:

    I feel he's as good as anybody in the Premier League. I don't know anyone who is better.

    You always have to be realistic about these things. If a call came from a top European club and was attractive to him, then you have to look at it.

    It wouldn't be much of a surprise to me and that's why we have contingency plans in place with other goalkeepers at the club.

    We would be reluctant to sell him because you want to keep your best players, but equally you are realistic about things. You also have to consider the player's view.

    Coates' comments have apparently put Manchester United and Manchester City on "alert," according to Paul Handler in the Manchester Evening News

Martin Hinteregger

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    Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Position: Centre-back

    Current Club: Red Bull Salzburg

    This Season: 11 Austrian Bundesliga games. One goal. 

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    Last month, Red Bull Salzburg defender Martin Hinteregger claimed that he was the subject of interest from Manchester United, saying he was "flattered" to be linked to the club.

    The 21-year-old was reportedly being tracked by a number of European clubs, after impressing with Salzburg and the Austria U21 team. 

    As seen in this report from Ben Jefferson in the Express, Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus were interested in the defender, with the player insisting that United were also in the running.

    In an interview released by the Austria Press Agency (via Skysports.com), Hinteregger said:

    There is an interest from Manchester United and some big Italian clubs.

    I am honoured by it. Honestly, I did not think that it could happen so fast. My goal has always been to play with the Red Bulls, but of course such rumours are flattering.

    With my agent Frank Schreier, I need to consider if there are the conditions for a change and what prospects I would have with a move to a top team.

    I am not a dreamer and I know that these clubs have many interesting players who have no space to play.

    The defender is a product of the youth academy at Salzburg and has played for Austria at every level up to the U21s. His breakout season with the club came in 2011/12, where he played at both left-back and in central defence, winning the Austrian Bundesliga for the first time in his career.  

    If the rumours are true, he could be in the frame as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand. 

     

Koke

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Position: Attacking midfield

    Current Club: Atletico Madrid

    This Season: Eight La Liga games. Two goals. Six assists

    Showreel: Watch here

     

    This week has seen a flurry of reports linking Atletico Madrid's Koke to Manchester United. 

    In the Daily Mail, John Edwards reckons that David Moyes is ready to bid for the 21-year-old, who reportedly has a £16 million release clause in his contract.

    Otherwise known as Jorge Resurreccion Merodio, Koke came up through the ranks at the Vicente Calderon, getting his first-team debut at the age of 17 against none other than Barcelona.

    He's gone on to register over 120 games for the club and has cemented his position in Diego Simeone's side. So far, he has won the Europa League, Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup within the last two seasons.

    Koke has played for Spain at every youth level and his performances with Atletico have also seen him get called up for the senior squad.

    Technically gifted, he has already been drawing comparisons with Xavi and has been tipped as the Barcelona's player's replacement in the national side.

    Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga and the Champions League this season. They currently occupy second spot in the table, on equal points with Barcelona and five ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

    Perhaps Koke will not want to leave Madrid, with his side doing so well. However, if he did come to United, he could be just the kind of player the side needs to kickstart their season.  

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