The winter transfer window in English football is something that is either loved or despised. Some view the transfer window as a blight on the game as it reinforces the quick fix mentality that is a direct contributor to the ruination of some player's and manager's entire careers as they are forced to deliver tangible and successful results in unfeasible time frames. Many managers actually try to ignore the winter window altogether, and in recent years, there has certainly been less outright buying and selling in the window than was the norm, before financial constraints and more prudent buying in the summer window became the standard practice.
Of course, there are also those who love the window. It can indeed be an exciting time, and the recent acquisition of Darren Bent by Aston Villa, has produced immediate results for Villa and good vibrations for the Villa faithful, who were starting to wonder what Houllier was doing. Bent, a natural goal scorer, with an outstanding goal scoring record, not only scoring on debut, but also winning the match with that solitary strike. Villa fans will be quite chuffed with that one, particularly so when two former Villa darlings on the opposition in Gareth Barry and James Milner, who were transferred away from Villa to the big spending and ambitious Manchester City side who fell to Bents goal.
There is still the notion of the "transfer spree buying mentality" that is bandied about by newspapers and websites desperate to gain sales or hits, but all in all this is is not really the case in the window anymore. It is rare to see the wholesale change and frenetic activity the window is built up as having the potential to provide.
As the focus of this article is players linked with Manchester United, it is a given Alex Ferguson should be mentioned. Ferguson has recently been quoted as saying on several occasions he sees "no value" in the market, and he has no intention of buying players at this opportunity because he is happy with his squad and also has gifted players returning from injury in the next while.
Still, there are inevitably players linked with the club, and in the following slide-show, possible targets will be identified and ranked according to their potential in a United shirt. Conjecture and speculation being what puts food on the table for media types the world over, these two things shall be engaged in during this piece, with merry abandon.