Manchester United face a season-defining two weeks in the run up to the closure of this summer's transfer window, with names such as Marco Reus, Arturo Vidal and Kevin Strootman continuing to be linked to the club.
Louis van Gaal's need to sign a handful of world-class stars increased following Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Swansea City, a result which started the new manager's competitive Red Devils career off with a spectacular failure. No signings have been brought in since a late flurry in June saw Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw arrive, despite the obvious need for improvement.
Reus is among those who should certainly be considered, although United would face major competition for his signing. Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer has admitted if he can't lure Reus to the Allianz Arena, the German winger could line up at Old Trafford, per Bild and translated via 101 Great Goals:
I can imagine [Reus] at Bayern very well. If you can get a player of his class, you need to try it. If he doesn’t go to Bayern in 2015, he will probably go to another big club like Real Madrid or Manchester United. Dortmund will probably not be able to hold on to him. I can understand why Dortmund don’t like discussion about Reus.
Borussia Dortmund have continued to insist Reus isn't for sale, per Alex Richards of the Mirror. That said, his reported release clause of £19.8 million becomes valid next summer, noted by Bild and via Robin Cottle of the Daily Mail. Reus is also said to have recently rejected a new contract, per the Daily Mail's David Kent, fuelling speculation further.
United's last two summer transfer windows have been defined by rumours of this ilk. This year's saga surrounds Vidal, who is on the cusp of returning to action with Juventus. The Chilean midfielder continues to work through the knee injury that plagued his World Cup campaign, but Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri is not worried about his future, reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport and via Ben Gladwell of ESPN FC:
He's desperate to play, but he still needs a bit more training. He's like a lion in a cage. He'll play in Villar Perosa [against Juve's reserves on Wednesday] or in the Tim [against AC Milan and Sassuolo on Saturday].
Arturo's spirits are very high. It's only normal that there is speculation about him—big clubs are always looking for big players, but Vidal is already at a big club.
Vidal himself indicated his immediate future is "to train well," per Ben Jefferson of the Express. United will be wary of dropping a huge fee on the player's services if his knee isn't 100 percent recovered, a situation that also blights Van Gaal's reported interest in Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman.
Jefferson indicates United's need for a central-midfield destroyer could see the club opt for Strootman this summer, rather than January. Strootman is currently working to regain fitness after suffering a serious knee injury earlier in the year. He was one of Van Gaal's key players during the manager's spell as Netherlands boss and is the all-action style of player United need to plug their midfield.
David Moyes' reign was immediately defined by his inability to land world-class signings, something Van Gaal simply cannot repeat. The boss has appeared forthright, assured and patient throughout his initial weeks in charge, but this isn't helping calm the nerves of supporters who fear a repeat of last year's failings.
Defeat to Swansea only intensifies the situation, ensuring Van Gaal needs to make a host of important decisions across the next fortnight.