Manchester United have been tipped to make Felipe Anderson one of the first completed deals of the January transfer window.
Alan Nixon of the Sun recently claimed the Red Devils were in advanced negotiations for a £35 million deal, and football writer Graeme Bailey believes an official announcement could follow soon:
Possibly the biggest deal of the transfer window, Felipe Anderson to Manchester United, could be one of the first confirmed. Deal close.— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) January 1, 2016
The 22-year-old was one of Serie A's breakout performers of the 2014-15 campaign, scoring 10 goals and adding seven assists for Lazio, per WhoScored.com. Blessed with pace, trickery and excellent finishing ability, he looked like a budding star.
The 2015-16 campaign has not been so kind on the Brazil international, however, and he has reverted to some of his old bad habits, showing bouts of inconsistency and an unwillingness to defend at times.
He remains an intriguing talent, but his value is largely based on a hot stretch of matches he enjoyed last season.
Per former football scout and director Tor-Kristian Karlsen, the reported price tag is far too high:
The quoted price (£35M) also seems rather excessive given the fact that he hasn't enjoyed a particularly brilliant season with Lazio (8/8)— Tor-Kristian Karlsen (@karlsentk) December 31, 2015
There's good reason to believe Lazio would be open to a sale. The Biancocelesti have struggled badly on the defensive side of the ball, and they have to invest in a top centre-back in January. Anderson was a vital part of last year's squad, but given his struggles in 2015-16, they won't hesitate to cash in if anyone is willing to pay such a high fee.
In many ways, Anderson looks a lot like current United star Memphis Depay. He's incredibly fast, likes to take on his man and loves to shoot from long range, but he can also be invisible for large stretches of a match, or even several matches in a row.
Like Memphis, Anderson may struggle early in his United career. Serie A defenders tend to sit further back and let attackers run with the ball―he's not used to defenders attacking him head-on, something he would encounter in the Premier League.
While there are some question marks surrounding this proposed move, Anderson's incredible talent is undeniable, as you can see in this video:
A move for Anderson would be quite risky, and there's no guarantee he would hit the ground running at Old Trafford. But he's young, athletic and a prolific scorer, and United could certainly use an influx of talent in the attacking third.
Anderson is a typical boom-or-bust signing, but for United, a club with tremendous financial means, he's a risk worth taking.
Ander Herrera Wanted by Valencia, Pep Guardiola
According to Spanish website Don Balon (h/t Metro's Mark Brus), Valencia manager Gary Neville wants to sign midfielder Ander Herrera, while Pep Guardiola would also be interested in the Basque should he take the job as manager of Manchester City.
Herrera is still an afterthought at Old Trafford, making just eight Premier League starts during the first half of the 2015-16 season, per WhoScored.com. The 26-year-old's career has stagnated since he left Athletic Bilbao in 2014, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him hand in a transfer request in the near future if things don't change.
He has looked more than solid in limited opportunities, but for some reason, manager Louis van Gaal seems to prefer other options in midfield.
As shared by Squawka Football, he was one of the team's top scoring options in 2015, despite his status as a rotation player:
Most goals in 2015 by Man United players: Juan Mata (8) Ander Herrera (6) Wayne Rooney (6) Marouane Fellaini (5) pic.twitter.com/016GMUC9nS— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 28, 2015
Valencia's interest shouldn't come as much of a surprise: Los Che are enduring a nightmare season in La Liga and are in dire need of some midfield help, and Herrera would be a perfect solution. As a former pundit for Sky Sports, Neville is already familiar with the former Bilbao man.
Guardiola's interest may be a little harder to gauge. City have incredible depth in the midfield areas, but it never hurts to add a versatile player with Premier League experience. The former Barcelona man should also be familiar with Herrera from his time in La Liga.
It's hard to imagine United selling any of their players to rivals City, but a switch to Valencia could be an option, particularly if Van Gaal invests in another midfielder. For now, Herrera seems more likely to stay at Old Trafford, but expect plenty of buzz during the summer if his playing time doesn't increase.