It’s safe to say that Louis van Gaal is a fantastic manager, but one thing he isn’t is a miracle worker.
The defeat to Swansea City on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign proved as much, as virtually the same squad as least season meant the exact same problems for the Red Devils.
However, every cloud has a silver lining, and that lining for United is defeat alerting the powers that be that squad additions are absolute essential in the coming weeks.
Here, we take a look at the latest developments in United’s chase for two, big-name stars.
Angel Di Maria
The transfer saga of Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria has been very much like the Argentinian himself—running and running.
Reports of Di Maria moving to various clubs around Europe have surfaced over the past few months, but it now looks as though Manchester United are in pole position to secure his services.
As Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail revealed, United are willing to spend up to £100m to get the 26-year-old in red, covering both his transfer fee and wage packet.
The Red Devils will offer Real Madrid £50 million for his signature, with the remaining £50 million going towards an astounding £200,000-per-week salary.
While a staggering amount of money, it seems that £100 million is all that will tempt Di Maria to switch to Old Trafford, with the lack of Champions League football on offer unappealing to the 26-year-old.
What is appealing to the forward, though, is the wage packet on offer, and Ladyman writes that Di Maria has told his family that the lucrative deal has surprised him.
Many United fans won’t believe that the Argentinian is on his way to Old Trafford until they see him smiling with the red shirt in hand, but his exit from the Bernabeu is closer than supporters think.
As Real manager Carlo Ancelotti revealed ahead of his side’s Spanish Supercopa clash with neighbours Atletico, Di Maria’s future is uncertain to say the least—per The Telegraph:
Di Maria is available like all the others. He may or may not start the game and has opportunities, but like everyone else. I don't know what Di Maria has decided. But I know that he's training and that he could help us in tomorrow's match. Until August 31 it will continue the same way and after that everything will be cleared up and things will return to normal.
Though United have landed two talented stars in Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera this summer, they need the kind of signing that will earn their status back as a team to be feared.
That’s something that the Daily Mirror’s Oliver Holt believes, too, saying that the gulf in class between United’s squad and their rivals could make for another disappointing campaign at Old Trafford.
Shaw and Herrera are not going to propel United back to the top of the table. They are not marquee signings.
No matter how fine a coach Van Gaal is, no matter how good he is at getting the maximum from his players, the gap in the raw material possessed by United and teams such as Chelsea and City is growing too wide. (Ed) Woodward must act fast and boldly. Otherwise, another season of mediocrity beckons.
Acting fast means bringing a player of Di Maria’s calibre to the club as soon as possible, and while it could break the bank for Woodward and Co. it’ll certainly be worth it.
Another player who has reportedly been on the radar of Manchester United for some time is Fiorentina sensation Juan Cuadrado, whose stock rose considerably after a superb World Cup display with Colombia.
Able to play anywhere across midfield, Cuadrado’s versatility made him a big target of United at the start of the summer, and Sky Sports’ Pete O’Rourke revealed that they’re still interested:
@LvGRedArmy Keen on Juan Cuadrado and working on centre-backs— Pete O'Rourke (@SkySportsPeteO) August 11, 2014
However, new developments mean that the chances of the Colombian being in red anytime soon have reduced considerably, as current manager Vicenzo Montella believes his star will remain at the club—per La Nazione, via the Daily Mail:
“I have never thought of losing Juan. He’s been here in the past, he is here now and he will be here in the future. I don't think about how his (Cuadrado's) story might finish.”
United were previously linked will shelling out upwards of £30 million for the 26-year-old’s signature, but Fiorentina’s stubborn nature means that the deal may well be out of the window.
However, Mundo Goal’s CEO Shergul Arshad believes that there’s still a chance of Cuadrado coming to Old Trafford, with the defeat to Swansea acting as the catalyst for a United spending spree:
Cuadrado would be an excellent addition to the United setup on account of his versatility, but just landing him or Di Maria won’t fix such a deep problem for the Red Devils.
The squad needs improvement in all areas, and without splashing the cash in the coming weeks, it could be a very long campaign for Van Gaal and United.