A new era is set to begin at Old Trafford: a new manager, a new start and a new hope among the Manchester United faithful.
With David Moyes’ nightmare reign confined to history, whoever takes the United hot seat has a massive rebuilding task on their hands and will be faced with a squad in desperate need of improvement.
Louis van Gaal is the likely successor to the Old Trafford throne, and the links to big-name signings are already coming in thick and fast.
According to Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, the Dutchman has handed United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward a list of players he would like to bring to Manchester if he takes up the reins this summer.
Heading the list to join the revolution is Van Gaal’s fellow countryman Arjen Robben, who has evolved into one of the world’s best attacking players since joining Bayern Munich from Real Madrid in 2009.
Luring him away from the Allianz Arena will take a lot, particularly with Champions League football not on the agenda at Old Trafford, but a fee of £25 million and a substantial increase on his £160,000-per-week salary may just work, per Simon Osborn of the Metro.
With 11 goals and six assists in the 2013/14 Bundesliga, according to WhoScored.com, Robben is one of the hottest properties on the planet right now, and landing his signature would be one of the most remarkable signings of all time.
It would rival Robinho’s transfer to Manchester City, Luis Suarez’s to Liverpool, and would be just as surprising as when former West Ham defender Julien Faubert managed to worm his way into a Real Madrid shirt. Actually, nothing will ever top that.
Signing Robben, though, would be a statement of intent from Van Gaal, and it could be the catalyst for more world-class players heading to Old Trafford.
With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand on the way out and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones failing to perform to United’s high standards, Hummels is the ideal man to come in and lead the back line.
At just 25 years of age, Hummels has demonstrated the credentials of a player with experience beyond his years and would fit in perfectly at the Theatre of Dreams.
However, Van Gaal must compete with the German’s love for Borussia Dortmund in the hunt for his signature, as he told Die Welt back in February that his heart belongs to the Bundesliga giants—per Sky Sports:
I do not necessarily need to play for the best team in the world to remain in a situation to have a certain chance to grab trophies. That's a fact. I am a player of Borussia Dortmund and, so to say, I would prefer one UEFA Champions League title with Borussia Dortmund over six with an other club.
What Van Gaal does have at his disposal, though, is money, with the Glazers earlier this year promising to invest £100 million in transfers this summer according to Mark Ogden of The Telegraph.
Such funds would see the Dutch manager happily bring in four players of the highest order, but a relative unknown in terms of world football is also on his radar.
The report says that the Red Devils had a £27 million bid knocked back by Southampton last week, but they’re ready to add another £3 million to their bid in order to land him.
Southampton have rejected Manchester United's £27m bid for Luke Shaw. (Guardian) #MUFC— Get Football News (@GetFootballNews) May 12, 2014
Shaw made 35 Premier League appearances in 2013/14 and became indispensable to the South Coast club’s cause. Being called up to the England squad for the World Cup in Brazil was just the icing on the cake for the talented 18-year-old.
Is Luke Shaw worth £30 million?
With Patrice Evra potentially heading for the exit door, Shaw would be an ideal candidate to replace the Frenchman at left-back. While £30 million appears steep, the potential of the youngster means that United could be getting decades of service for their money.
None of these players will come cheap, of course, but they appear absolutely necessary if United are going to bring back the glory days to Old Trafford any time soon.
Being out of European competitions next season means that bringing in world-class players could be difficult, but their absence could be a blessing in disguise—just look at Liverpool in the 2013/14 campaign.
With no midweek European games to worry about, the Reds put together a remarkable season, and were it not for a few slip-ups they would have won the Premier League.
Having the chance to reign supreme in one of the best leagues in the world will undoubtedly appeal to every player, and if Van Gaal can use his powers of negotiation to lure Robben, Hummels and Shaw to Manchester, then United will undoubtedly challenge for the top spot once again next term.