Manchester United are targeting the signings of Angel Di Maria and Juan Cuadrado, according to Spanish press on Monday.
Mundo Deportivo claims the Red Devils are ready to trump Barcelona and offer €38 million for Cuadrado's signature—which equates to approximately £30 million—reported as front-page news, per 101 Great Goals' Twitter account:
The same website translated the original report for English users, but notes the lack of details ahead of an alleged battle for the Fiorentina star's signature:
According to the Spanish report, Manchester United are set to offer the Viola €38m for Cuadrado, however Barcelona are also laser-focused on trying to bring the midfielder to the Camp Nou.
Unfortunately Mundo Deportivo offer little else in the way of facts regarding any possible transfer of Cuadrado, with the length of any contract, the amount of wages and any additional contract terms left undefined. The paper also fail to specify if Barcelona would match United’s offer.
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Cuadrado emerged as one of Colombia's World Cup stars and is widely expected to move during the summer. Aside from the winger's flying pace, his versatility is a huge draw for teams who are looking to strengthen a number of positions quickly. Both United and Barca are currently working on rebuilds after disappointing seasons and may see Cuadrado as a ready-made solution to their problems down the right flank.
United are starting to find their attacking style under Louis van Gaal, scoring 10 goals in two preseason games so far. The Dutchman has favoured three centre-backs during the club's tour of the US, with Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia acting as wing-backs. Cuadrado, a natural winger who can effectively fill in at right-back, would slot in nicely to the latter's spot.
Jamie Anderson of the Express notes the "exuberant personality combined with an abundance of pace, power and agility" that makes Cuadrado such a draw. He certainly has the natural attributes and work ethic to be a star at Old Trafford, as detailed here.
Cuadrado would likely be used on the right side of midfield at the Camp Nou, presuming Dani Alves remains with the club. Barcelona have the added draw of Champions League football, but United can likely afford to offer Fiorentina more money and Cuadrado a better wage slip. If the two go head-to-head, the player's future may come down to preference.
An alternative in United's hunt to land a marquee signing could be Real Madrid's Di Maria. The Argentinian offers a different kind of versatility—he can play on either wing, behind the striker or in central midfield—making him an attractive prospect after Argentina's run to the World Cup final.
Di Maria never really hit top gear before getting injured in Brazil, but did post an excellent season with Los Blancos. It's strange his potential exit is being discussed so seriously, as this is a player whose speed, energy and dribbling skills inject urgency into Madrid's play.
Amid talk of a likely exit, Carlo Ancelotti confirmed Di Maria will return to training soon. "There is no news in the market," said the Italian boss, per Pablo Polo of Marca. "Di Maria has finished the World Cup, he is resting on holiday and will return to Valdebebas on August 5th."
Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC indicates Paris Saint-Germain are closest to landing the 26-year-old's signature, although there's work to be done if that is to happen:
L'Equipe: Carlo Ancelotti keen to keep Di Maria, but Real Madrid still want to sell. Talks continue with PSG, but not on verge of success.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 27, 2014
AS say Carlo Ancelotti is alone in battle to keep Angel Di Maria at Real Madrid. Marca reporting that PSG are willing to pay €80m for him.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 28, 2014
Van Gaal certainly has some glaring gaps in his squad. This is likely to force panic among many supporters as we head into August, with United's first competitive fixture of the Premier League season rapidly approaching on Aug. 16. Any additional signings will have a couple of weeks at best to settle in, but there's no denying plenty of transfer action can be expected soon.
Both Cuadrado and Di Maria offer multi-faceted styles that would bring sheer pace to United's game. Energy and invention was lacking under David Moyes' tutelage, both of which can be added by the aforementioned stars.
Supporters will certainly be pleased with United's rampant start to life under Van Gaal, but this means nothing if the squad is unable to compete once the real challenges begin. Plenty of names will continue to be linked with a transitional United side that should be looking to make a fast impact once the new domestic season is underway.