Manchester United's last summer transfer window was defined by David Moyes' inability to sign Cesc Fabregas, but one year on, the link refuses to die.
Luis F. Rojo of Marca believes Fabregas is "one of the players" Barcelona are willing to sell at the "right price" during the close season. Rojo suggests that "even Cesc isn't clear about his future," as the Blaugrana are preparing for major changes after finishing the season without a trophy.
Jack Wilson of the Daily Star links the player to United and Arsenal. Fabregas would likely command a fee of around €40 million, but any United interest could be quelled by the Gunners, who have first rights on the player's Premier League return.
The Spaniard couldn't be lured away from his boyhood club last season, but after watching Barca fail to capture the La Liga title during a must-win match with Atletico on Saturday, he could be tempted into moving on.
Perhaps ironically, Arsenal won their first trophy since 2005—a squad Fabregas was involved in—at the same time as Barcelona's domestic slip.
Should United fail to land the playmaker for a second season running, Dutch creator Jordy Clasie is rumoured to be an alternative option, per the Manchester Evening News. The 22-year-old, who plies his trade with Feyenoord, recently assisted Robin van Persie with a stunning pass in the Netherlands' draw with Ecuador.
"That pass made the goal possible," said RvP. "That was a world-class ball. That pass gave me the opportunity to do my thing. I think that pass was more beautiful than my goal."
While Van Persie refers to Clasie as world class, Louis van Gaal will need to feel the same and be named Manchester United boss before the midfielder can think about playing with his international captain on a weekly basis, per Mark Ogden of The Telegraph (subscription required).
United's decision to sell players will also have a huge impact on the struggling squad. A mixture of deadwood and talented youngsters who are playing below their potential could be up for grabs during a key transfer window for the club.
Remarkably, Phil Jones is said to be on Jose Mourinho's wanted list by the Irish Independent. Jones has failed to nail down a dominant position at Old Trafford and continues to play across the defensive line or in midfield, something that "would provide cover in a number of positions" if Mourinho were to allow David Luiz to leave.
While that is an unthinkable move, United supporters may have to get used to real change. The current crop of players, including developing individuals such as Jones and Chris Smalling, needs to significantly improve if United are to escape an eventual kicking through the exit door.
Van Gaal is not a manager who will accept second-rate quality. He is likely to attract a host of world-class names despite United's lack of European football, something Moyes may have struggled to consistently realise had he remained in charge.
This could make all the difference for a side that faces its biggest need for rejuvenation in recent history. Van Gaal's signings must make an instant impact, not linger like the overpriced mediocrity of Marouane Fellaini. Fabregas or Clasie would signal a brighter future and provide a first step on the road to recovery.