Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal can repair some of the damage done by his team's tepid start to the new Premier league season by quickly wrapping up the signing of Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria.
The latest reports suggest the player will have a medical and be signed in time for Saturday's game against Burnley. That would be a massive boost for an ailing squad.
However, Di Maria might not be the only headline name on his way to Old Trafford. Van Gaal slyly stirred the pot when he made repeated reference to long-mooted target Arturo Vidal, following United's limp 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
Adding the Juventus midfield general alongside Di Maria would be an awesome coup. Van Gaal might follow that by selling profligate striker Danny Welbeck.
Here's the latest news on Van Gaal's summer transfer plans:
Di Maria Will Sign in Time to Face Burnley
Di Maria will arrive in Manchester for a medical today and the Red Devils are keen to push through his registration with the Premier League so he is available for Saturday lunchtime’s trip to Burnley.
The 26-year-old will be handed the iconic No.7 shirt at United, worn in the past by club legends including George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham. The number was available after Antonio Valencia relinquished it last season.
Obviously, this is a mammoth deal for United and not just because of the £63.9 million fee, per Sky Sports reporter Guillem Balague. Although signing Di Maria is a statement that the club has lacked considerably since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013, United are still a major force in the Premier League.
Di Maria's arrival shows the Red Devils still have the pulling power to attract marquee stars, despite not being able to offer UEFA Champions League football this season.
Of course, that should soon change once Di Maria gets used to the rugged nature and frenetic pace of play in England. When he does, the Argentina international will be a prolific creator for deadly striker duo Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
That trio is enough to make United a threat against any opposition. Better still, the quality of the defence behind that potent-looking attack could be about to improve.
Van Gaal Wants Dutch Pair Nigel de Jong and Daley Blind
Daily Mirror writer Alex Richards is reporting that Van Gaal will follow the Di Maria deal by signing countrymen Nigel de Jong and Daley Blind:
And one point from the opening two Premier League games has been enough to encourage him to actively pursue Dutch hard man De Jong as he seeks to strengthen his midfield base.
Additionally, the versatile Blind is also wanted, despite the signing of £16million Marcos Rojo.
This double deal wouldn't generate as many headlines as the arrival of Di Maria. However, it could prove just as significant to United's bid to recover from last season's seventh-place finish.
De Jong is perfect for Van Gaal's new squad. He's a natural anchor at the base of midfield. That's something the United manager needs to give schemers such as Ander Herrera and Di Maria—the freedom to create.
De Jong has ample Premier League experience from his days with rival Manchester City. He is unforgiving in the tackle, as well as possessing underrated quality on the ball.
He's the ideal fit to drop back in and fill any gaps in Van Gaal's preferred three-man defensive structures.
Speaking of those structures, the addition of Blind would be a major boost. The Ajax ace can play on both sides at either centre-back or wing-back. United have an obvious need in both positions.
An athletic defender and an accomplished passer like Blind is the ideal player to help solve those problems.
Van Gaal Continues Vidal Charm Offensive
Van Gaal continues to keep alive the possibility of signing Vidal, per Manchester Evening News reporter Rob Dawson:
The Dutchman was asked in his television interview whether he would like to sign Angel Di Maria, who is reportedly on the verge of moving to Old Trafford, but replied that he is also a fan of Vidal and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
And he repeated his admiration for the Chilean midfielder, who has been linked with United all summer, later in his press conference.
Dawson believes these not-so-subtle hints are very similar to the way Van Gaal deftly kept alive a deal for Di Maria throughout the summer:
This one is a little trickier to believe, despite Van Gaal's best efforts. There's no doubt Vidal would be a superb signing for United.
However, the pending arrival of Di Maria, as well as the links to De Jong, has to create questions about where the Chilean star would fit in. Vidal is no holding player, nor is he a true playmaker or attacking midfielder.
Instead, he's a well-rounded box-to-box ace who will put in his share of tackles, make efficient passes and break forward to support the strikers via expertly timed runs.
Yet, in Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formation, he seems to lack a place. Surely, the ideal midfield trio will be Herrera, Di Maria and a natural holding player at the base.
However, things might not be that clear-cut. Signing Vidal would give Van Gaal the option of deploying United in a classic 4-3-3, another formation he has favoured during his career.
In that guise, Di Maria would play as a winger to form a front three with Rooney and Van Persie. Or, perhaps one of those strikers could drop out to accommodate another true wide player.
In the middle, Vidal, Herrera and let's say De Jong would form a perfectly complementary trio. It's also worth noting that Vidal has spent time in a 3-5-2 with Juventus.
To make it work, Juve used ageing pass master Andrea Pirlo in a deeper role. Perhaps Van Gaal would risk a playmaker like Herrera deep, while Vidal and Di Maria pushed on.
The point is that signing Vidal would not only earn United the kind of world-class player few clubs should ever turn down, but it would also expand the tactical options available to Van Gaal.
Sign Vidal, alongside Di Maria, and United go from a struggling, rebuilding team to one with legitimate title aspirations. Van Gaal has to make this deal happen.
Welbeck Wanted by Galatasaray
With so much money pouring out of Old Trafford, it would be wise to bring some funds in. One way of doing it could be to sell Welbeck to Galatasaray.
The club is reportedly very keen on the floundering England international, per Turkish newspaper AMK (h/t talkSPORT):
New manager Cesare Prandelli already boasts the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Burak Yilmaz and Hamit Altintop in his star-studded squad and now it has been suggested that he wants Welbeck among his ranks.
It is unclear whether the Manchester-born 23-year-old would be willing to move abroad but United would prefer not to sell him to a Premier League rival.
Any chance Van Gaal has to rid the club of a misfiring striker like Welbeck, he should take it. The 23-year-old has struggled to make the grade at Old Trafford.
It's time for Welbeck to try to test himself elsewhere in a bid to revive his career. It would better suit the club if he did outside the Premier League. It's also the right moment for Van Gaal to step up his efforts to trim the squad.
United's latest transfer rumours are sure to excite their fans and with good reason. Di Maria can help change the profile of a club that looked to be going backward at an alarming rate.
The still-alive potential of a move for Vidal is just as encouraging. But don't underestimate how useful potential deals for De Jong and Blind would be.
United's Van Gaal-led future is suddenly looking a whole lot brighter.
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