Manchester United will reportedly have to splash out almost £100 million to land Lazio's Felipe Anderson and Southampton's Sadio Mane in January.
According to an exclusive from Mike McGrath in the Sun, the latter will cost United a princely £62.5 million—£30 million for his transfer fee combined with a five-year, £125,000 per week deal.
As the report noted, the 23-year-old is angling for a move and was benched for Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Norwich City after arriving late for a team meeting ahead of the game.
Saints boss Ronald Koeman believes his player is no longer focussed. Per McGrath, he said:
Sadio was one of the 11 players to start but we have rules.
In our last meeting two hours before the game he came late. That is impossible. Everybody knows we have a sanction—you don’t start.
Then you have to make changes in the team and the set-pieces. I don’t understand a player who comes late to the last meeting.
My message to him days ago was that he wasn’t really focused. It was Thursday’s training.
The Dutchman has made no secret in the past his desire to keep Mane and Southampton's other star players at the club in January, though should they be presented with such a fee, and in light of his recent disciplinary issue—perhaps brought on by his hope of a move—they might acquiesce.
Who would be a better signing?
Mane has impressed since arriving on the south coast last year and has accrued an impressive seven goals and eight assists in all competitions this season.
United have struggled to impress up front—scoring just 24 goals in 20 Premier League matches—so an injection of attacking flair and pace could be just what's needed to revitalise their play in the final third.
The Senegalese certainly fits the bill in that regard and, according to sports writer Jonas Giaever would fit in well at Old Trafford:
Though Koeman and van Gaal don't like each other their systems have many similarities. Adaptation would be fairly smooth for Mané, I'd guess— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) August 19, 2015
Further, with United lacking natural width, Mane's addition could allow Anthony Martial to return from the left to a central position, where he is much more effective.
The figures involved are incredible and many might baulk at the idea of United paying them for the winger, but if United are hoping to make useful additions to their squad in January they'll likely have to pay a premium.
Like Mane, the Brazilian is a pacey winger who possesses great trickery and skill, which he used last season to devastating effect in scoring 11 goals and assisting 10. Indeed, for his efforts he was named in Gazzetta dello Sport's Serie A team of the season, per beIN Sports' Matteo Bonetti:
Gazzetta names Serie A best XI this season: Perin, Bonucci, Glik, Rugani; Perotti, Pogba, Nainggolan, Felipe Anderson; Tevez, Toni, Dybala— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) June 1, 2015
The 22-year-old hasn't had quite the same impact this time around with just five goals and three assists to his name in 25 appearances so far. Nevertheless, his incredible potential commands a high transfer fee and he also extended his deal with Lazio in March, per football writer James Horncastle:
Felipe Anderson extends his contract with Lazio until 2020. Combined for 15 goals in his last 11 games. 8 goals + 7 assists— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) March 21, 2015
Anderson could be an excellent signing for United, though like many talented and creative wingers, consistency is an issue as Giaever noted:
Felipe Anderson's top level is very high, but isn't he incredibly inconsistent? From the absolutely fantastic to just frustrating?— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) August 27, 2015
A more developed player would likely be preferable for the Old Trafford faithful, but with United needing width and a real spark at the attacking end of the field, there are few available in January who could do that as well as an in-form Anderson.