Manchester United's protracted summer transfer recruitment drive could finally be about to kick into high gear. There's news of a so-called final bid for Juventus midfield ace Arturo Vidal, as well as a potential exit for local lad Danny Welbeck.
Elsewhere, there's developments on the pursuits of Real Madrid pair Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira, as well as Inter Milan schemer Fredy Guarin.
Here's the latest on United's transfers, beginning with Vidal:
Bumper Final Offer Not Tempting Juve into Sale
United's attempts to sign Vidal seem as though they've been going since transfer windows were invented. The latest development is a mooted final bid of $53 million (£32 million) per Chilean publication El Mercurio (h/t 101 Great Goals):
The additional offer of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez seems reasonable when considering Juve always seem to be on the lookout for a new striker. It could also be United's best attempt at driving the price down.
Yet Sport Witness reporter Tom Coast believes even this bid isn't enough to satisfy the demands of the Turin club:
Juventus apparently want $67m for Vidal. Vidal is reported to already have a “verbal agreement” with #MUFC, and he’s hoping they’ll pay up.— Tom Coast (@thcoast) August 22, 2014
Despite whatever offer remains on the table, Juve are ready to continue resisting United's advances, per general director Giuseppe Marotta in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Metro reporter Hannah Duncan):
All the requirements are there for Vidal not to leave before the end of the transfer market.
The contract extension he signed has made more solid the marriage between Juve and Vidal.
Vidal has always said he wanted to stay here and we are more than happy to keep him.
United have to find a way to break Juve's resolve. The Old Trafford club has been lacking a talisman in midfield for far too long. Van Gaal won't find a better general in the middle than Vidal on this market.
The Chilean is at once hard working, tenacious, creative, technically assured and also boasts an eye for goal few players in his position can match. The 27-year-old scored 18 goals in domestic and European action last term, per WhoScored.com.
United need that type of all-action figure in their midfield. Vidal could instantly become the lynchpin for Van Gaal's rebuilding efforts.
Sadly, this saga is becoming eerily reminiscent of last summer's pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. That involved numerous bids that never yielded results. If this is United's final offer, it feels the 13th "final" bid for Vidal.
If Juventus won't budge this time, Van Gaal needs some prominent alternatives in mind. Unfortunately, he already appears to be ruling out a few.
United Won't Bid for Di Maria or Sami Khedira
Today's Daily Express doesn't make good reading for United fans desperate for marquee new arrivals. Consecutive reports rule out bids for a pair of Real Madrid stars.
First, James Dickenson has stated Van Gaal won't enter the race for physical midfielder Sami Khedira, a race that also involves Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea:
Despite being available for £12million, Express Sport understands the Germany World Cup winner is not on United's immediate radar.
With just 10 days of the transfer market to go that could change, but it appears Bayern Munich are the frontrunners while Arsenal and Chelsea are also in pursuit.
It's not clear how deep United's interest in Khedira has actually gone, even though he's a player who could definitely help. Blessed with terrific energy levels, Khedira is a powerful, box-to-box runner who impacts a game at both ends of the pitch.
The 27-year-old helps his teams quickly transition from defence to attack, a priceless quality in the modern game. Given the fee involved, it's surprising United aren't more eager to test the waters for the rugged and skilled Germany international.
However, the bigger surprise is Van Gaal's intention to shy away from a bid for Di Maria. That's according to Express writer Richard Tanner:
Sources at United suggest that Louis van Gaal is a huge fan of youngster Adnan Januzaj and does not want to cramp his development by bringing in Di Maria, who would cost a club record fee in excess of £40million, especially with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata filling the other attacking positions.
United's priority, despite the arrival of Rojo, is still to further strengthen their defence and midfield, although another Real player Sami Khedira also does not appear to be on their immediate radar with only 10 days left before the transfer window closes.
While it's true that defensive reinforcements should remain United's priority, it's also true that Di Maria is a wonderfully gifted creative talent any coach can justify making an exception for.
The Argentine has reportedly been left out of Real Madrid's squad for the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, as noted by Spanish football and B/R UK expert Guillem Balague, heightening expectation that he will find a new club this summer:
According to Cadena Ser, Di María will be left out of the squad today for the Spanish Supercup— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 22, 2014
United have lost some lustre after last season's seventh-placed finish and a tame start to this season, in the form of a 2-1 home defeat to Swansea City.
Should United Push for a Deal for Di Maria?
Landing a legitimate star like Di Maria would make a major statement that this club is still relevant at the top levels of the game. It would also provide a prolific pass master capable of supplying chances for Rooney and Van Persie.
If there's a chance of getting Di Maria, Van Gaal should reconsider his stance. However, he shouldn't be so flexible with his judgement about a current attacker.
Van Gaal Rightly Tells Danny Welbeck to Leave
Sense finally seems to be prevailing along the Old Trafford corridors regarding Welbeck. The young England international has been told to find a new club by Van Gaal, according to Matt Law of The Telegraph:
Danny Welbeck has been told he can leave Manchester United during the final week of the transfer window.
The news will be of particular interest to Arsenal and Tottenham, who are both big fans of Welbeck and have checked on his availability in the past.
With only two years remaining on his contract, United value Welbeck at around £15 million which would comfortably fit into the budgets of north London rivals Spurs and Arsenal.
If Arsenal and Tottenham fans are feeling afraid, they should. There's very little purpose to a striker who doesn't score, and that's largely what Welbeck has been.
A more sympathetic view would say that maybe a run of games would help a forward who has certainly pace to spare. Welbeck is also one of the most hard-working players in the Premier League.
However, his record as a finisher is beyond dubious. So clubs like Arsenal and Spurs should give him a wide berth.
They may have a reprieve in that area, per Daniel Taylor of The Guardian, who has stated there are "conditions" to Welbeck's potential sale:
Whether that means he will is another matter. #MUFC don't want to sell to top-six club. Welbeck doesn't want to drop further down.— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) August 22, 2014
A move down the division could be the best thing for the 23-year-old to start rebuilding both his confidence and his career.
Van Gaal's "B-list" Includes Guarin and Nico Gaitan
Louis van Gaal is now working from a transfer B-list after seeing his first-choice targets fail to come off.
Manchester United boss van Gaal is frustrated the club failed to sign the likes of Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels and Thomas Vermaelen this summer - three of the Dutchman's major targets.
Now, with just 10 days before the transfer deadline, the United boss has been forced to revise his buying strategy and focus on players who initially formed a secondary list of targets.
The rather unflattering term applied to Van Gaal's secondary targets actually makes sense for a club unable to offer UEFA Champions League football this season. It says a lot when even a club of United's stature has struggled to attract the best without that caveat.
As good as Gaitan can be, United shouldn't enter a bidding war for the 26-year-old. Stumping up €45 million for Gaitan but walking away from a possible move for Di Maria would make next to no sense.
As would a proposed offer for Guarin. United have reportedly begun discussions for the Colombian ace, per Corriere dello Sport (h/t 101 Great Goals):
Momentum is building over the notion that Manchester United will sign another midfielder before the transfer window closes on August 31st.
Whilst reports in Portugal linked the Red Devils to an official bid for Benfica’s Nico Gaitan on Friday, over on the front page of Italian daily Corriere Dello Sport, Louis van Gaal is being touted as having an interest in Inter’s Fredy Guarin.
United have little need for Guarin when Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj are still on the books. He is not an exceptional talent like Di Maria, worth bloating a position for.
The mass of transfer news surrounding United only reflects the ongoing uncertainty about the future direction of the club. Make no mistake, this is a genuine, full-scale rebuild, one that will take Van Gaal more than one transfer window to get right.