New Manchester United chief Louis van Gaal has his head turned firmly toward Italy in the latest round of transfer rumours. Van Gaal is reportedly keen on major deals to sign Serie A stars Arturo Vidal and Fredy Guarin.
The former has been a mooted target for most of this summer. There has been a significant back and forth in this pursuit, but it appears United hopes of pushing a deal through have been rekindled.
As for Guarin, the mercurial Colombian creative ace would be an asset to any squad. But there's no denying he would face strong competition at Old Trafford.
However, disappointment looks likely to await Van Gaal if he attempts a move for fellow Dutchman Kevin Strootman.
Here's a closer look at the latest on Van Gaal's potential major summer signings, beginning with Guarin:
Javier Hernandez Swap Deal Could Land Guarin
Signing Guarin will reportedly hinge on Inter Milan's willingness to accept misfiring Red Devils striker Javier Hernandez as part of the deal. That's according to Daily Star reporter Alex Harris, who cites reports from Italy, stating that Inter would be keen on such an arrangement:
According to reports in Italy, the Italian giants are desperate to sign a new striker this summer to give Walter Mazzarri more firepower up-front and United's Mexican hit-man fits the bill.
Louis van Gaal is keen to bolster his midfield and is scouring the market following the blow that Arturo Vidal is not interested in a move to Old Trafford.
Guarin is one player who the Dutch boss has kept tabs on and the Serie A club believe swapping the Colombian for United's fringe striker will work for both parties.
Harris notes that Guarin has scuppered his chances of staying in Milan after a botched attempt to move to Juventus last winter.
The club needs a talisman in the middle and has done for too long. Guarin can fit that bill as an active playmaker with the skill and swagger to dictate possession.
However, while his talent is obvious, it's not immediately clear to see exactly where Guarin would fit into Van Gaal's new-look system. The Colombian is adept in the middle as well as on the flanks, but he is joining a crowded position group, particularly in advanced areas.
United already boast technically gifted maestros such as Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj. Van Gaal recently described how his squad is bloated in creative areas, following United's 7-0 friendly win over LA Galaxy, per Sky Sports reporter Adam Bate:
With the quality of the players we have, I can play 4-3-3 with three strikers on the bench, but I want to play with two strikers. We have four number 10s, so the selection is not balanced in my eyes. I have decided to play this system because of the quality of the players. But if we lose, I can change back to another system.
Guarin isn't a natural No. 10, although he does have some experience there. The problem is that it may be just as difficult to accommodate him a little further back.
New arrival Ander Herrera should be United's designated pass master this season. The Basque star's signing is one of the best so far this summer. He is a naturally busy hub of possession.
However, one new arrival isn't going to be enough to solidify a midfield that was left to decay for years. Acquiring Guarin under the terms proposed in the Star would ensure the arrival of a dynamic new partner for Herrera.
It would also solve the problem of what to do with Hernandez, a striker who has lost confidence and been ignored by successive managers in recent seasons.
Vidal Deal is Back on
Of course, Van Gaal won't need to think about signing Guarin if he can conclude a deal for Arturo Vidal. That's a possibility that has been renewed, per Sunday People reporters Tom Hopkinson and Steve Bates (h/t the Mirror):
The 27-year-old Juventus midfielder told Italian reporters on Friday he would not be moving to Old Trafford.
But Sunday People Sport understands a sensational £35million move is now back on and could even be completed in the coming days.
Vidal has been on Louis van Gaal’s hitlist since he took over but the deal appeared to have broken down.
The optimism from Hopkinson and Bates follows a report from Italian outlet TuttoSport , (h/t GiveMeSport writer Patrick Surlis) claiming that Vidal's agent is ready to meet with his club, Juventus, to try and facilitate a sale.
Obviously, landing Vidal would provide a major boost to United's already excellent chances of regaining their place in the Premier League's top four. The Chile star is the all-action game changer in the middle United have been lacking.
Vidal has a knack for finding the net, evidenced by his 18 goals for Juve last season, per WhoScored.com. But as much of an attacking force as he is, Vidal is also a tenacious talisman, willing to engage in the physical battle for the right to own the ball. Few midfielders at the top level offer his complete game.
However, before United fans can get too enthusiastic about this potential move, Vidal's recent denials can't be so easily dismissed. On Friday, he told Sky Italia (h/t The Guardian) that while he is uncertain about his immediate future in Turin, he has no plans to join United.
This is where the Red Devils' inability to offer participation in one of this season's major European club tournaments could really damage Van Gaal's transfer plans.
It Will Take €100 Million to Sign Strootman
Van Gaal's biggest disappointment might not be missing out on Vidal, it could actually be getting priced out of a move for his compatriot Kevin Strootman.
The Roma midfield anchor represents an obvious need for United. He has the destructive instincts and positional savvy to competently shield the defence. That would give schemers such as Herrera and Mata the freedom to roam forward and create chances.
However, Strootman's tactical value is well known to his current boss, Roma chief Rudi Garcia. After his side's 3-2 friendly defeat to the Red Devils, per BBC Sport reporter Simon Stone, the Frenchman made a point of warning United off his Dutch destroyer.
Garcia set a staggering €100 million price tag on Strootman, per ESPN FC: "What can I say about the rumours [about Strootman joining United]? ... Maybe after a three-digit offer, then we will sit down and think about it."
That's a fee perhaps too rich even for United. Few would deny Strootman is a need, but when a more complete player like Vidal is potentially available cheaper, that has to be the smarter option.
Which Serie A Midfield Ace Should Van Gaal Target?
It's not surprising that most of the major transfer rumours involving United are focused on midfield reinforcements. The position has been in a state of flux for too long.
Of the three names on this list, Guarin seems the most likely get. However, the more dynamic Vidal has to be considered the best bet, particularly in light of Roma's hard-line stance over Strootman.