Manchester United Transfer News: Red Devils Need Star Players to Return to Top 4

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and team-mates Juan Mata (L) and Darren Fletcher prepare to kick off after conceding the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on March 29, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward claims his club will challenge for the Premier League title next season, but despite losing out on £35 million by not qualifying for European competition, the club will still need to attract star talent to make a push for next season's top four.

According to the Manchester Evening NewsJames Robson, the loss of the Champions League and Europa League's £35 million bonus didn't stop the club from recording a healthy third-quarter revenue of £115.5 million.

Woodward suggests that revenue will put the club in a strong position to invest in the squad, first and foremost.

"This puts us in a healthy financial position to continue to invest in the squad. Everyone at the Club is working hard to ensure the team is back challenging for the title and trophies next season," he said.

The Independent's Ian Herbert indicates Woodward made a similar statement to New York Stock Exchange investors, promising his club to be active in the transfer market as they aim for Champions League qualification next season.

"The club’s expectations - and you will see this in the transfer market - is to be straight back in to the Champions League," he said.

"The transfer window is upon us and deals are being done but not done in the past tense."

The Red Devils still haven't appointed a permanent manager following the sacking of David Moyes last month, but according to Sky Sports News, the announcement of Louis van Gaal as the team's next manager is imminent:

The Dutchman is an experienced manager with a proven winning record, having won league titles in Holland, Spain and Germany.

Van Gaal launched the careers of superstars like Xavi Hernandez and Thomas Mueller, and he will have plenty of young talent to work with in Manchester.

James Wilson and Andreas Pereira are two of the biggest names who look ready to make the step up to the senior side, while the likes of Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha could truly shine under Van Gaal.

However, with all due respect, Van Gaal isn't coming to the Eredivisie or the Bundesliga. This is the English Premier League we're talking about, a league where six or seven teams can realistically compete for four Champions League tickets.

Jon Super/Associated Press

Teams need more than just an opportunistic manager and a host of young talents to play for the title in arguably the strongest competition in the world.

While it feels ludicrous to claim the 2012-13 champions are lacking in star talent, that's exactly the case.

The Red Devils are a good team, mind you, and they have a number of great players. But bona fide superstars? David de Gea is a great stopper, but he's never mentioned amongst the world's best. Juan Mata is a fantastic midfielder, but he's also widely expected not to make Spain's final World Cup squad.

A healthy, in-form Robin van Persie is United's closest thing to a superstar, but the Dutch international has always struggled with injuries. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are effectively gone, and Man Utd FC notes that their partnership at the back had been quite special:

The Red Devils have a solid team, but there's no Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure or Eden Hazard on the squad. Those three represent the star players of England's top three teams (Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea).

Even Arsenal will argue their squad simply pack more oomph than United, and the Gunners are traditionally a team built more on talented youngsters and less on superstars.

Mesut Ozil would walk into virtually any starting XI in the world, a claim you simply can't make about a single United player.

Not yet, at least. According to Robson, Van Gaal is expected to be handed a £200 million budget ahead of the upcoming summer transfer window, and such a vast sum will get you at least two or three star signingseven in a World Cup year.

United have the foundation to identify weaknesses in the squad and fill them with world-class players. De Gea is a great keeper, Van Persie and Wayne Rooney are proven scorers, and the next generation of stars looks ready to step up.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  (L-R) Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United is challenged by Jack Cork of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on May 11, 2014 in Southampton, Engl
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rebuilding the defensive unit will be key, but Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are serviceable defenders who will help out in that department.

United don't face a host of problems on their way back to top-four contention, but the few problems they do face are very real.

A lack of star quality is one of them, and it might be the most pressing.

Woordward's promise that his club will be active in the transfer market is a good start, but if he wishes to live up to his full promise and deliver Champions League football, he's going to have to use most of that third-quarter revenue to give his group of players a much-needed boost.

A £200 million transfer budget certainly wouldn't hurt, and if that budget is used wisely to attract the two or three stars the club need, a swift return to the top of the standings could very well be on its way for the club.