How Should Manchester United Approach the January Transfer Window?

Chris Fleming@@Chris__FlemingCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2013

Moyes faces a crucial few weeks in the January transfer window.
Moyes faces a crucial few weeks in the January transfer window.Stu Forster/Getty Images

David Moyes’ early stint as the manager of Manchester United has been somewhat hit and miss. In the January transfer window, however, he has an opportunity to buy big and sign players who will bolster United’s challenge for silverware.

Moyes has to buy smart, though.

January is not a month in which United should be thinking too far ahead in the future. Rather, Moyes must address the failings in the squad that have become so evident in the early stages of the season. He has to make astute signings and here’s how he can do that.

Moyes Must Sign a Midfielder

Gundogan could be the answer to Moyes' midfield woes.
Gundogan could be the answer to Moyes' midfield woes.Alex Grimm/Getty Images

It’s the worst-kept secret in football; United need to sign a central midfielder.

The last-minute signing of Marouane Fellaini, compounded by his and Tom Cleverley’s poor form, is evidence of the fact that Moyes’ focus will be on signing a world-class central midfielder. And, in order to avoid a repeat of the Belgian’s capture, that midfielder has to be genuinely world-class.

Quite simply, it should be the priority.

So, we should now concern ourselves with working out who that midfielder is likely to be. Many names have been touted, but a few stand out. Ander Herrera and Ilkay Gundogan certainly fit the bill, and either or both would significantly improve United’s midfield.

Mark Ogden of The Telegraph is reporting that Moyes will target the pair in January, which is a smart move. Of all the midfielders that United have been linked with, and there are many, those two offer the most.

Gundogan, in particular, would be a shrewd acquisition. This is why:

By all means, watch the whole video to see the kind of role Gundogan could fulfil for United. You won’t be disappointed.

Another midfielder the Red Devils have been linked with is Atletico Madrid’s Koke. It’s a speculative signing, though, since the Spaniard has no real reason to depart one of Europe’s top sides on current form.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, via Sky Sports, has the latest on United’s attempts to sign a midfielder:

Man United's interest in Herrera was factual but they decided not to pay 36m euros for him. They are not going to go for him again and he is happy to stay. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for Koke to leave Atletico when they can win the league, he is such an important part of the team and there is a World Cup coming up.

If Balague’s correct, then Gundogan is the most likely candidate that Moyes will opt to sign. And he wouldn’t be a bad signing, either; in fact, he’s exactly what United need. The trouble is that he’s injured and remains out of action.

Expect this saga to rumble on…

Moyes Must Avoid Signing a Left-Back

Evra is United's best option at left-back for the rest of this season.
Evra is United's best option at left-back for the rest of this season.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

One thing Moyes mustn't do is sign a left-back. There are suggestions that a deal has already been made, mind you. 

For this season, Patrice Evra should remain as the No. 1 choice. There’s no need to replace someone who has made such a bright, assertive start to the season. Next summer is the right time for Moyes to think about a long-term replacement for the Frenchman.

Leighton Baines will continue to be linked with a move to Old Trafford, despite Everton boss Roberto Martinez emphasising that he has no reason to sell the England full-back. There’s no doubting Baines’ ability, but he doesn’t offer enough to warrant his price tag.

For a full rundown on Moyes’ other options at left-back, check out B/R’s Greg Johnson’s piece here.

Moyes Should Target a Creative Player

Reus could transform United in attack.
Reus could transform United in attack.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The signing of a creative, attacking player is not a priority, even though it could really allow United’s other attacking stars to flourish in the latter half of the season.

The man that ticks all the boxes in this respect is Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus.

It’s a rumour that will no doubt continue to gather pace, with Scott Murray of The Guardian suggesting that Moyes could offer Shinji Kagawa in a swap deal for the German international. Given his start to the season, however, it would be unwise to offload Kagawa in January.

That means signing Reus outright, and a sensational signing it would be too. 

He’s a tremendously talented player and one who could become one of the world’s very, very best in the not-too-distant future. He’s that good. Whether he is prepared to leave BVB is questionable, but Moyes should at the very least consider making an attempt to bring him to Old Trafford.

Looking Ahead

Would Gundogan (left) and Reus (right) be United's dream signings?
Would Gundogan (left) and Reus (right) be United's dream signings?David Ramos/Getty Images

January is a notoriously tricky month when it comes to signing world-class players. Not only are clubs unwilling to sell, but it rarely makes sense for players to make a big move in the middle of the season.

That’s especially true of this campaign, which precedes the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

It’s doubtful whether the very best players would be willing to move with such a prestigious event just around the corner.

That being said, Moyes can still have a successful January transfer window if he is smart in his approach. A midfielder and a creative, attacking player would represent a good month for United, while the sole signing of a left-back would be disastrous.

In fact, the worst-case scenario would be if Moyes signed Baines and only Baines.

It will be interesting to see how Moyes approaches the transfer window, because it will prove telling at such an early stage of his tenure. We just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

Who would you like to see join United in January? Let us know in the comments.


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