Manchester United have reportedly agreed a fee with Juventus for Arturo Vidal, according to the Italian press. The Red Devils' need for improvement also sees the club linked with Ajax defender Daley Blind, but contact is yet to be made according to the Dutch champions.
United's pursuit of Vidal is destined to continue until the transfer window slams shut at midnight on Monday. The Chilean midfielder offers everything Louis van Gaal's side needs in midfield—passing ability, energy and a physical presence—but remains elusive. La Gazzetta Dello Sport, via 101 Great Goals, indicates that is about to change:
101 Great Goals also provides context to the Italian report:
According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, the word on the street is that Man United have reached an agreement with Vidal, after the player’s agent was in Manchester on Tuesday.
Gazzetta also bring a huge dollop of circumstantial evidence to their story, reporting that Vidal left Juve’s training centre Vinovo yesterday by avoiding eye contact with the fans; seemingly an indication that he is off to Old Trafford.
Tuttosport is quick to dismiss United's chances of signing Vidal in a contrasting front page, once again tweeted by 101 Great Goals:
Interestingly, the Italian publication does suggest United will likely get their man if €50 million is offered (approximately £39.7 million), per 101 Great Goals. United recently dropped £59.7 million on Angel Di Maria, per BBC Sport, and have the cash to meet such demands. It is thought Vidal's consistent run of knee injuries is acting as a barrier for such a costly bid.
Who is more likely to join Manchester United this summer?
Ian Herbert of the Belfast Telegraph even suggests a "complex, appearance-based contract" could be utilised to ensure United limit the potential losses of signing a broken player. While Vidal's fitness is a risk, there's no doubt the majority of United followers will be urging Van Gaal, Ed Woodward and the club's board to broker a deal.
If United are to sign one further player this summer, Blind is likely the man. The left-sided defender worked under Van Gaal during his time in charge of the Netherlands and produced some memorable performances at the World Cup. Robin van Persie's brilliantly timed header against Spain came from Blind's cross, creating one of the tournament's lasting images.
Blind's ability to fill a number of positions could make him attractive to United. He is linked to the club by Warren Haughton of talkSPORT, who reports comments from his agent. Rob Jansen, the player's representative, admits "Manchester United have not been in touch with me or Ajax about Daley and I’m not sitting here waiting for the call," per Haughton.
Gary Jones of the Daily Star believes Blind will become United's fifth signing of the summer, although Peter McVitie of Goal.com casts doubt over this by reporting comments from Ajax chief Marc Overmars, per De Telegraaf:
Marc Overmars on Blind:"We have a strong team & want to keep Daley for a year.Only if the absolute price is offered will we negotiate" #MUFC— Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) August 27, 2014
Overmars on Blind: "There is some rumbling around Daley, but there is no specific club and there is no contact with #MUFC."— Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) August 27, 2014
Those quotes from De Telegraaf.— Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) August 27, 2014
Blind's arrival is critical at this point. He can fill Luke Shaw's spot at left-back while the Englishman remains injured, and he can also do a job on the left flank or in midfield. Van Gaal is likely to try a number of different strategies over the coming weeks and needs players who can post quality performances in a range of roles. Blind fits the bill.
United have just five days to massively improve a squad that lacks confidence. The side's 4-0 defeat to MK Dons underlined a team that is missing the heart and determination to compete.
While a selection of youngsters were used alongside Javier Hernandez, Anderson, Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans—players who should be leading by example—no United player exited the field having put in a positive performance. Burnley are next up for the main squad on Saturday in a Premier League match that simply needs to be won from Van Gaal's point of view.
The arrival of Vidal and Blind would drastically improve everyone's outlook at the club. Both potential deals continue to flit between "done" and "not happening" in the press, but it seems United can have the telling say in each. Money talks, meaning it's time for United to start outlining their intentions.