There are only a few weeks left in the 2013-14 Premier League season, and teams are gearing up for a summer transfer window that could get wild following the 2014 World Cup.
Manchester United have suffered a nightmare season and are in danger of losing out on European football next year altogether as the team is currently ranked seventh in the English league, so reinforcements are expected to arrive at Old Trafford this summer.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the transfer stories coming out of Manchester this week.
David Moyes has asked his scouts to revisit Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera, according to the Daily Mail's Simon Jones.
The Spanish midfielder was reportedly close to joining the Red Devils last season, with the team ultimately unwilling to trigger the player's £32 million release clause.
But despite Herrera's clause set to rise to £37 million in July, United are now reported once again to be in the running for the midfielder's signature.
Herrera, meanwhile, told El Confidencial (via Goal.com) he had no desire to leave his current club following the conclusion of the January transfer window:
I made it clear at the time.
I am grateful to United for their interest and to Athletic for considering me to be more valuable than money.
Athletic have made it clear that they have no intention of selling. We are a solid club with a good economic standing. We are privileged.
We are stable financially, well respected, have a new stadium and a great team - no Athletic players want to leave.
The Basque club have enjoyed a comfortable season in La Liga and are very close to Champions League qualification, so Herrera's desire not to leave his hometown club for a foreign adventure with an under-performing United side is perhaps understandable.
And with Bilbao doing well both financially and competitively, the club should have no reason to sell their most prized asset for anything less than the reported buyout clause.
With the Red Devils also reportedly looking at Portugal's William Carvalho, a double dip for expensive, inexperienced midfielders seems unlikely. The Mirror's Steve Bates even claims the latter has already agreed to join the Mancunians after the World Cup.
Investing in another unproven player such as Herrera would not be particularly wise with Carvalho already set to arrive, so this move seems unlikely to happen.
I reported on United's interest in Eliaquim Mangala on Thursday, but according to the Mirror's David McDonnell, he wasn't the only player Moyes and company scouted when they attended the cup match between FC Porto and Benfica on Wednesday, with Garay also on the team's radar.
The defender has a manageable £17 million release clause, but with his contract expiring, he could be available for less than that figure.
The Argentinian would be a cheaper option than Mangala at centre-back, a position that will be a major need going into next season with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand both set to depart the club.
As shared by Mr Transfer News, though, Phil Jones has informed his manager new centre-backs will not be necessary:
Jones may have recovered from the awful campaign he suffered through last season to put together a solid season in the centre of United's defence, but neither he, Chris Smalling or Jonny Evans are the kind of top defenders the club should feel comfortable with moving forward.
While all three are more than adequate players with room left to grow, they're not the type of defenders people usually associate with Manchester United, and it's of little surprise Moyes is looking to bring in some new blood during the summer.
If Mangala's reported £42 million release clause is a figure the club would be unwilling to pay, Garay's athletic ability and vision on the ball would be the next best thing. The Argentinian impressed greatly against Tottenham in the Europa League, proving he is well suited for the English game.
According to O Jogo (via 101greatgoals.com) Moyes showed the world his ability to multi-task when he also scouted Benfica midfielder Perez in the same cup match, as the Portuguese paper claims he would be the team's priority during the summer.
O Jogo claims:
Manchester United have begun the scouting process of Enzo Perez with a view to signing the player at the end of the season.
[...] however, before any bids from Old Trafford are tabled David Moyes wanted to see the player in action, and he got his wish during this week’s cup match between Benfica and Porto.
Jan Hagen asked (and answered) the question plenty of fans will be asking themselves in the coming days:
It is important to note the Portuguese media have a reputation for "breaking" news that turns out to be nothing but hot air: Two years ago they fooled the Telegraph into believing Nicolas Gaitan was joining the Red Devils.
Perez might not be a well-known player amongst United's fans, but the Argentinian midfielder has been a solid presence in Benfica's midfield and has earned a number of caps for the national squad throughout the years, indicating his ceiling might be higher than that of his current club.
But at the age of 28 and with a reported release clause of just under £25 million, it is difficult to imagine exactly where the upside of this deal would lie and where the Argentinian would fit in.
As a creative midfielder, Perez would take up much of the space currently occupied by the likes of Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, two of United's most important contributors. If someone like Shinji Kagawa can't force his way into the starting XI, one can't imagine Perez would do much better.
The summer of 2014 should be all about getting better to avoid another nightmare season like the one the team just suffered through. If people like Hagen have to question whether a player would be good enough for the Premier League, Moyes shouldn't even bother with him.
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