No matter how fruitful their Borussia Dortmund labours might be, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus are two players to have become continuously linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent months.
Aged 23 and 24 respectively, Gundogan and Reus are two of Germany's most prodigious talents at the moment and they just so happen to fit the bill of two areas in which David Moyes needs top-quality recruitments.
Mark Ogden of the Telegraph reported this week that Gundogan, along with Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera, is likely to be one central midfielder United target heavily this January following a summer of speculation between the two parties.
A back injury has put a hold on the playmaker's development so far this season, but Gundogan's rise to prominence within Jurgen Klopp's side last term was meteoric. His goal in Dortmund's Champions League final was a showcase moment in an impressive campaign, which elevated his name among the best midfielders in Europe.
Reus, on the other hand, has been as dangerous as ever this term—contributing seven goals and five assists to his club's cause in just 13 starts—averaging a hand in of almost a goal per game according to Transfermarkt.co.uk.
The Daily Mail's Simon Jones recently reported that United were keen to tie up a £29.3 million deal for the winger-cum-supporting striker this winter. Reus' reported release clause is assumed to make the transfer a distinct possibility.
An excerpt from Jones' report reads:
The key is whether 24-year-old Reus wants to leave mid-season. The Germans are pushing to convince him to sign a revised contract so they can change his clause and the player maintains he is content at Dortmund despite the club going through a period of transition.
The contract stipulation provides United with a structured and easy-to-understand financial obligation, but what's more complex in the matter is Reus' decision to leave.
He is loved at Dortmund and is playing for a side who play quick, exciting football—suited to his own style. In a World Cup year, change would be a risky decision.
Which player do United need more?
The German's versatility in attack is an extremely attractive prospect for United not just because Reus would add substantial talent to the flanks and more centrally when needed, but he would allow those around him at Old Trafford to play from their best positions.
Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa would be the main beneficiaries as a result of Reus' arrival. Not only would their supply line improve, they would not longer have to fill in out wide, as Kagawa has done frequently this term.
Having said that, one might argue Gundogan is the more immediate necessity for Moyes, with the lack of depth in quality central midfielders drawing the criticism of some in recent months, Joey Barton included:
Easily the worst Man United side in Premiership history this. Don't think they have ever been this weak in middle of the park.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) November 24, 2013
Despite Marouane Fellaini's arrival, the engine room has failed to boast much consistency so far in the campaign. Michael Carrick has been the most common staple while Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs, Phil Jones and Anderson have all played their parts.
Gundogan would offer Moyes a reliable box-to-box presence, but one whose growth is far from complete just yet, although it may be a risk to go in for the midfielder straight after returning from injury.
Dortmund are currently third in the Bundesliga and aren't going through their best patch of form, but will nonetheless be eager to keep hold of two of their biggest assets.
However, they continue to lose their biggest talents—like Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski, who will soon join Bayern Munich according to Paul Smith of the Daily Mirror—so Reus and Gundogan would be wise to assess their own situation.
The chance to walk into Old Trafford as guaranteed first-team stars rarely offers itself, so any approach should be considered seriously.