Louis van Gaal is ready to look closer to home to bolster Manchester United's squad ahead of next season. The Dutchman is reportedly targeting Premier League stars Morgan Schneiderlin and Christian Benteke.
Holding midfielder Schneiderlin has long been considered the linchpin of a talented Southampton team that's consistently punched above its weight since returning to England's top flight in 2012.
Now reports from France suggest United are ready to pay £25 million to lure him away, according to Daily Mail reporter Simon Jones. The original source of those reports seems to be French station InfoSport+:
In an attempt to verify the claims, Sport Witness' writer Tom Coast offered this description of the original source: "They’re part of the Canal+ group. Big sports channel in France...basically Canal+’s idea of Sky Sports News."
In many ways, Schneiderlin ending up at Old Trafford makes a lot of sense. The Red Devils need a younger, deep-lying playmaker than Michael Carrick.
Now 33, Carrick is coming toward the end of his career. But he still remains a vital figure at the base of United's midfield.
His positional sense is still impeccable. So is his passing range. Fortunately, they are both qualities that also define Schneiderlin's game.
The 25-year-old isn't a defensive midfielder necessarily defined by his physicality, although he's not a weak tackler, more a highly accurate one, as Squawka Football detailed back in January:
But Schneiderlin is most adept at anticipating the flow of attacks and being in place to intercept passes and transition defence to attack via classy and varied distribution.
There isn't really another player in the United squad capable of offering what Carrick brings to the pitch. Spending big on Schneiderlin would ensure Van Gaal gets a successor for the England veteran and a quality holding player for years to come.
United Impressed by Christian Benteke
One other Premier League player certain to cost United plenty is Aston Villa's beefy striker, Christian Benteke. The Belgian marksmen reportedly wants his next contract to pay him £150,000 per week, according to the Daily Star Sunday's Paul Hetherington.
He notes how the striker who's scored 15 goals in League and FA Cup action this season, per WhoScored.com, has "impressed" United, along with rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. If United are impressed, perhaps Benteke's performance during Villa's 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup final might have changed Van Gaal's mind.
BBC Sport reporter Chris Bevan noted how the misfiring 24-year-old "failed to record a shot of any kind in the game." Bevan gave Benteke four out of 10 for his efforts at Wembley. Even that low figure might have been generous after he gave up on marking Per Mertesacker, allowing the big German centre-back to turn in Arsenal's third goal.
Inconsistent effort is one of the main reasons potential suitors should give Benteke a wide berth. He's capable of dominance at times, particularly in the air. But there are just too many games when he goes missing during a season.
Villa boss Tim Sherwood recently revealed Benteke can leave the Midlands club if a team meets his £32.5 million buyout clause, per Sky Sports. But that's a hefty fee to pay for such a temperamental attacker.
United need help at striker after Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao struggled through the season. But Van Gaal would be better served targeting a more accomplished and reliable performer than Benteke.
Schneiderlin certainly makes sense for a squad that still needs a lot of work before United can return to genuinely competing for major prizes. But Benteke won't help the Red Devils make that leap.