Though the end of another season is drawing in, the cyclical nature of modern football means that clubs can't afford to stand still. Plans will have already been conjured for the summer, as the juggernauts of the game look to assemble their squads for the next campaign.
Manchester United are a club still worthy of that juggernaut status despite their indifferent campaign. It’s widely anticipated that Louis van Gaal will take the Old Trafford hot seat ahead of next season, per Saul Brookfield of the Independent, and he’ll inherit a squad that is in desperate need of bolstering.
There’s no point ducking the significance of this summer’s dealings for United. Reinforcements are so, so vital if the club are to nudge their way back into the very top bracket of European football.
United icon and club director Sir Bobby Charlton insisted that the new boss will be give the funds to help facilitate that rise, per Jack Wilson of the Daily Star:
We will have to buy a couple of players, which will happen.
I am looking forward a lot to next year because Manchester United is not renowned for being second. We like to be first and we will be first.
We have the most fantastic organisation and that organisation when it works is unstoppable.
With plenty of United’s current crop not up to standard and a host of senior professionals set to leave this summer, the Red Devils are set to be one of the busiest clubs during the offseason, and they definitely require a few more than the "couple" suggested by Charlton.
Here is the very latest on some of the high-profile names being linked with a move to Old Trafford and a take on how they could help or hinder a potential United renaissance.
Bayern Munich unveiled their new kit earlier this week, with Manchester United target Toni Kroos at the forefront of the marketing campaign, per David Kent of the Mail Online.
The Bavarian giants will don a red and blue shirt for next season, but whether or not Kroos will still be at the Allianz Arena come the start of the 2014/15 campaign remains a source of intrigue.
Here’s Kroos modelling Bayern’s new strip, along with Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben:
The Red Devils interest in Kroos has been longstanding, with reports emerging back in April that the player had told teammates he was keen on making the move to Old Trafford, per John Cross of the Mirror.
Kroos’ current contract with Bayern runs out in 2015, and there seems to be a reluctance on his part to put pen to paper on a new deal.
The player’s agent Volker Struth said in April that “Toni will play at FC Bayern until at least 2015”, per the Telegraph, but you have to wonder if Bayern would be willing to let the player leave on a free, perhaps preferring a sale this summer to recoup something tangible for their loss.
Nonetheless, Jan Aage Fjortoft doesn’t expect the player to extend his deal:
Re Kroos - won't extend his contract - nothing happens before World Cup - most likely at Bayern till 2015 - then FREE— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) April 13, 2014
In truth, Bayern would be foolish to let Kroos leave. The player is stylistically perfect for Pep Guardiola’s blueprint, given his unrelenting patent for keeping the ball. I'd expect a new contract to be sorted very soon.
Manchester United are reportedly interested in acquiring the services of Ashley Cole on a free transfer, with his Chelsea contract set to expire this summer.
Who will be United's left-back next season?
The 33-year-old full-back has enjoyed eight trophy laden years at Stamford Bridge, but he is set to walk out on the club this summer after being offered a deal on reduced terms, per John Cross of the Mirror.
United could well be in the market for a left-back, with Patrice Evra's future still undecided, per Sky Sports. If United were to snap up Cole, they’d be getting a player with experience, a winning mentality and, even in the twilight of his career, tons of quality.
But he is by no means a long-term solution. United have been linked with a big-money move for 18-year-old Luke Shaw, per Daniel Jones of Metro, and while the Southampton youngster would be a much more expensive recruit initially, the long-term benefits are obvious.
You know what you’ll get in signing Cole, and he’d certainly provide United with an excellent option at left-back. But, on the cusp of a summer in which the club are set to look to the future, Cole’s acquisition would be a step in the wrong direction for the Red Devils.
Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus refused to commit his future to the club at a recent awards ceremony.
The 24-year-old picked up the Dortmund Player of the Year gong, as voted for by newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten. Speaking about his future, Reus insisted he was hoping to win trophies in his career, something he’s not done since his move from Borussia Monchengladbach to Dortmund in 2012, per Richard Arrowsmith of the Mail Online:
It's like that in this business. Every player only has one career and wants to get the best out of it.
You have to decide what's best for you. We'll see about that. Every footballer has his goals and is dreaming of winning titles. At the end of your career, you want to be able to say that you've won many titles.
The German international will get the chance to win his first trophy with the club when Dortmund meet Bayern in the final of the DFB-Pokal on Saturday 17 May. But after these latest comments, fans of Die Borussen will be concerned it’ll be both Reus’ first and last with the club.
After seeing Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski walk out of the Westfalenstadion, Reus may also wonder if he could fare better elsewhere.
The prospect of spearheading this Manchester United revival is something that would be an enticing prospect for the player, but you suspect it’d take a serious offer for Dortmund to consider letting Reus go.