Manchester United have been linked with endless stars throughout the transfer window, but as of yet, none—bar free-agent Victor Valdes—have walked through the Old Trafford doors.
Manager Louis van Gaal spent heavily in the summer getting his squad up to scratch, but the team’s quality on paper hasn’t reflected on the pitch—meaning that the next few days could be incredibly important for the Red Devils’ season.
Here’s a look at the latest players rumoured with making the switch to United before deadline day, starting with a key addition to the defensive line.
After Nemanja Vidic departed Old Trafford for Inter Milan, the opportunity presented itself for any one of United’s defensive young guns to demonstrate their credentials to be the new leader.
However, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Marcos Rojo have been struggling to produce the goods in the heart of defence, which has led Van Gaal to look elsewhere for his defensive stalwart.
Standing elsewhere is 23-year-old Aleksandar Dragovic, who is rumoured to be close to making the switch to Old Trafford—reported by Jamie Sanderson of Metro.
Sanderson writes (h/t Tutto Mercato Web) that Van Gaal is ready to put an £11.2 million bid on the table to land the Dynamo Kyiv centre-back, but is he the right man to fill the boots of Vidic?
Well, his style of play certainly suggests as much.
Dragovic is the kind of defender who’s comfortable on the ball and reads the game brilliantly, with his intelligent style of play leading to a number of important, last-ditch tackles.
He’s a deep-lying defender who acts as a sweeper behind his partner, which would bode well for teaming up with any member of the existing United rearguard.
To put it in journalist Fabian Zerche’s words, per Sport Witness: "Dragovic isn't the dominant and commanding tackling beast, but more of a smart defender who is able to anticipate dangerous situations."
United are missing that kind of player at the moment. Jones and Rojo are reasonable on the ball, while Smalling and Evans defy being Premier League footballers at times.
With Dragovic in the setup, Van Gaal can resort to his old faithful formation of playing three at the back, as the Austrian is far more positive moving forward than any currently in the squad.
It’s all a case of whether Dynamo Kyiv will accept the £11.2 million offer from the Red Devils, but Sanderson writes that it should be enough.
Leading the back line at a club such as Manchester United won't be easy for a player who’s still young, but Dragovic has the credentials to do just that.
United’s transfer saga with Kevin Strootman has been running for months and months, but it could well reach a conclusion in the coming days.
The Dutchman was a favourite of Van Gaal’s during his time as Netherlands manager, and his lust for the midfielder hasn’t faltered since taking to the Old Trafford hot seat.
Strootman has been linked with United throughout January, but progress on a transfer looked to have stalled after 24-year-old was forced to undergo knee surgery.
However, Simon Mullock of the Daily Mirror writes that Strootman is still United’s top target, and a big-money bid could be in the pipeline.
That’s all it’ll take to lure the Dutchman to Old Trafford too, with Roma president James Pallota exclusively telling Bleacher Report that only an astronomical offer would tempt him into letting his star man go:
My view is that I don't want Kevin to go, for example, but if someone offers a huge amount, you at least have to listen to them. You're running a team, so you have to look at what's best for everyone, not just one individual. That's the way the world works.
Strootman is set to be sidelined for upward of six weeks with his latest injury, so he’s unlikely to be the man to save United’s season if Van Gaal makes an offer, but the future would be bright with him in the squad—the man himself took to Twitter to reveal the extent of his layoff:
The injury won’t force Roma into panic selling, but it’ll be a thinking point should United put an offer on the table.
Whether they can afford to stump up enough to land Strootman remains to be seen, but the ambition to bring in another world-class central midfielder is a cause for optimism for the United faithful.