Fact or Fiction on 5 Rumoured Manchester United January Targets
Even with the benefit of hindsight, Manchester United's first summer transfer window of the post-Ferguson era was a shambles.
Beginning with talk of Thiago, Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, developments took a turn for the worst as the club's transfer and negotiation strategy under the new chief executive Edward Woodward appeared naive and unorganised.
Having seen his previous list of transfer targets unravel before his very eyes, David Moyes will be looking for a new left-back, centre-back, midfielder and left-sided forward in January to plug the gaps in his current squad.
In fact, Old Trafford's new manager took a risk by announcing to the press that his team lacked the world-class stars to fulfil its objectives back in September, as per Sky Sports, laying bare the importance of his predecessor in keeping the club competitive.
Over the next few slides we'll look at some of the key targets who may or may not be coming to Manchester this January, deciding which moves will turn out to be facts and which fiction.
Rumours to Dismiss
Though United want to bring in a new left-back, there is currently a real lack of valid options who are either good enough or available to buy.
With Real Madrid missing out on Granada's Guilherme Siqueira to Benfica in the summer, Fabio Contraeo won't be leaving the Bernabeu any time soon unless a high-quality replacement can be found, as was the case back in September, according to BBC Sport.
In that respect they are in the same boat as United with regards to the short supply of realistic left-backs to target at present.
United will be reluctant to enter into an expensive bidding war with Roman Abramovich for the English prospect, who is seen by the Blues as the perfect successor to Ashley Cole.
Meanwhile, Leighton Baines also looks out of the question due to Everton's valuation of the England star, unless the player's own commitment to reunite with his former coach can push through a deal, as per The Independent.
When it comes to midfielders, Will Hughes may be the current flavour of the month, but Derby County have priced United and most of the player's other suitors out of the running with their demand for a £15million transfer fee, as per The Mirror.
Other gossip column regulars, Ilkay Gundogan and Ross Barkley, are out of the question in the short-term, with Jurgen Klopp desperate to prevent another one of his key players leaving after the loss of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski's impending departure to Bayern Munich.
Barkley would be too costly considering the work that he must still do to round out his game, and Moyes' decision to hold the youngster back from first-team action at Everton last season suggests that any serious interest from Old Trafford may have dissipated with the retirement of Sir Alex.
When it comes to defenders, St. Etienne's Kurt Zouma is a target, but the player is unwilling to leave his current club unless he can be assured of first-team football to continue to develop, as per IBTimes.
United will be unable to offer the teenager such assurances at present with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans all vying for games behind Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
While United's farcical attempts to secure Herrera's signature in the summer may have lost the club some face, the delay will not have hampered interest at Old Trafford.
After all, as the numerous profiles of the midfielder back in September made clear, Athletic Club's playmaker is a robust footballer whose creativity doesn't come at the cost of physical strength or courage.
His release fee remains an issue, but with United desperate to bring in a more mobile, hardy and inventive presence in midfield—and the club's hierarchy demanding that the mistakes of the summer are not repeated—Moyes and Woodward will be more prepared to meet Bilbao's demands.
Fact. United want him and will be doing their best to close a deal, if possible.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Konoplyanka is one of United's main targets for their currently underpowered left-wing slot, as per TalkSPORT, after losing out on Bale due to his move to Madrid.
The 24-year-old Ukraine is already one of the stars of the Ukrainian national team and could yet make it to Brazil in the summer via the play-offs after England denied his country the top spot in their qualification group.
United will not want to pay a post-World Cup premium for the wing-forward, and with Konoplyanka already a vital player for Dnipro—who are in a three-way battle with Metalist Kharkiv and Shakhtar Donetsk for this year's Ukrainian Premier League title—he could well be one of the players of Brazil 2014.
Such exposure only adds value, and therefore cost, to any potential buyer.
January could be the reigning English champions' last chance to bring the Ukrainian to Old Trafford before his price rockets in the summer.
Interest is a fact, but whether Moyes will pull the trigger in January is uncertain.
Hinteregger's name has become a staple of the Premier League gossip columns of late, with Red Bull Salzburg's Austrian defender linked with moves to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City as well as United.
A young and commanding centre-back, Hinteregger has been scouted by the club's network of talent spotters, according to Sky Sports, but it's unclear whether he is anywhere near the top of Moyes' list of targets.
United's new manager likes to research every possible player in full, with even players on the far fringes of his radar receiving thorough background checks and performance tracking.
That the young Austrian has been watched by the club's scouts should not be inferred as a sign of genuine interest.
After all, Benfica's skilful Argentinian centre-back Ezequial Garay is arguably a better fit for United as a replacement for Ferdinand, unless Moyes plans to cash in on Vidic before his value drops.
Garay has come out to suggest that the club's new manager didn't want him back in the summer, although his comments, as reported by ESPN, admit a bid was lodged.
Moyes may have once again acted overly cautiously, needing more time to make a decision, rather than being dismissive of the defender.
Fiction for the moment when it comes to Hinteregger unless Vidic moves on. Should interest in Garay be rekindled, the Argentine will have more facts to back up his case.
Following United's failed attempts to bring Thiago and Fabregas to Manchester, news of a third move for another Barcelona midfielder may well induce eye-rolling from the transfer gossip gallery.
What's more, it's unlikely that Sergi Roberto would be the instant upgrade that United's midfield clearly needs, with the undoubtably talented 21-year-old still learning his trade alongside Xavi and co.
However, Moyes may want to invest in the future as well as boost the present, and Roberto would likely be a far more accessible transfer target than the two Barca stars the manager sought in the summer.
According to The Metro, the La Masia graduate could be available for as little as £6million.
Unfortunately for those hoping to see some of Catalonia's talent siphoned off to play alongside Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, January just doesn't seem feasible for such a move with proven first-team starters an absolute priority.
Fiction in the short-term and likely to stay that way as the impending retirement of Xavi creates more opportunities for Roberto.
United maintain a part-ownership stake in Gomes thanks to their link-up with Brazilian talent factory, Desportivo Brasil, and with the much-hyped striker catching the attentions of Juventus, Udinese and Sao Paulo, it may be time to seal the deal and reel him in.
According to The Express, Moyes may be about to instruct Woodward to do just that.
Yet with Angelo Henriquez and Will Keane already behind Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez for first-team opportunities—who themselves are but patient understudies for Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie—Gomes will struggle to get games at Old Trafford.
In fact, Sao Paulo's interest could yet translate into a long-term loan solution should United decide to finalise a deal for the striker and park him at a top club where he can prosper and develop.
Much depends on how impatient the player is for top-flight European action, with Udinese especially well-placed to counter United's offer with the promise of potential appearances in Serie A sooner rather than later.
It's a fact that United are already involved with Gomes, but it's fictional to suggest his signing is all but a formality.