Breaking Down Manchester United's January Transfer Targets
Jose Mourinho loves to moan about how hard life has become at Manchester United, but don't be fooled into thinking he has no money to spend in the January transfer window.
So bad is the body language of the United manager right now, reports have begun to surface that he may not remain at the club much longer, including from Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail.
United are desperate to close the gap on league leaders Man City and as a result some of their summer budget will be brought forward, to help land players that can immediately impact the team.
Mourinho may get as much as £80 million to spend during the January window, and there is certainly an opportunity for him to bolster the squad in the coming weeks.
United have openings at left-back, midfield and on the wing, and while there are links to new players almost every day at this stage, I have been speaking to informed sources about the realistic options being explored.
Mourinho is particularly keen to strengthen the right side of his attack, and scouts have been working on identifying future United stars. Talented Bordeaux star Malcom, 20, is looking like an attainable target.
He is an explosive attacker with tons of flair and undoubted quality on the ball that would boost United's excitement factor—he can also prove impressive from long range.
The idea of signing a creative winger is to help ease the pressure on front man Romelu Lukaku, and Malcom is capable of bringing goals to the team. Sources around United believe he is emerging as someone we should expect to arrive this month.
Justin Kluivert, Ajax
An interesting alternative option to add dynamic wing play from either flank at United could be Ajax's teen sensation Kluivert.
His name has not been mentioned too many times in terms of a transfer, but it is understood Old Trafford recruitment chiefs have been alerted to the impressive way he has taken to first-team football in the Netherlands. There is a real belief he has the capability of living up to his dad's reputation by becoming one of Europe's best players.
He is still raw so would need time to develop, but insiders have indicated that United are considering whether they should make a move for him if the Malcom pursuit becomes problematic.
Danny Rose, Tottenham
Rose wants to move away from Tottenham this year and ideally he wants to play for one of the two Manchester clubs.
While Luke Shaw has begun to make some baby steps in proving he could eventually become a part of this United team, the signing of the Spurs left-back is a real option for the Reds.
Mourinho is an admirer of Rose and his style of play and is believed to be keen for the club to invest close to £50 million in the England international defender.
A major stumbling block remains that Tottenham do not want to lose such a key player at this stage of the season though, so will look to hold off until the summer.
Mourinho wants the position bolstered in this window, so he could be forced to turn elsewhere.
Alex Sandro, Juventus
Another deal that will prove difficult to complete is the signing of Alex Sandro, but United are keen.
The link was originally made by Daily Record journalist Duncan Castles, who has a handle on all things United under Mourinho, so it should be taken seriously.
Chelsea were priced out of a deal last summer as Juve wanted close to £70 million, and the Italians will not have changed their stance too much since then.
Brazilian Sandro has also appeared on shortlists of Chelsea and Manchester City, and it is understood the player hopes he will be given the opportunity to move to the Premier League if another genuine opening lands at his feet.
If Rose and Sandro moves don't work out, I am told an alternative option that has been considered for the left-back position is the brother of United's star striker.
Jordan Lukaku is a young, powerful defender and scouts have been keeping an eye on him. It is understood that Romelu is aware of the fact United have been monitoring his younger sibling, and that the forward is convinced he would be able to handle the Premier League.
Defender Lukaku plays for Lazio and has made seven appearances for Belgium. He could become a realistic fallback plan if the bigger names don't arrive in Manchester, but Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham has also caught the eye.
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Mourinho gave a cheeky smile and replied "no comment" when asked about the possibility of taking advantage of the fact Mesut Ozil's contract at Arsenal is coming to an end this summer.
The Gunners have one final chance to cash in on their German playmaker, as his deal at the Emirates Stadium expires at the end of this season.
Mourinho and Ozil have a special bond from their time together at Real Madrid, and Old Trafford is considered the only other place in England he could turn to.
The Portuguese believes United lack creativity from midfield, particularly when Pogba is not around, so he has been looking for ways to inject new magic to the side.
Ozil is there for the taking...if United are willing to front up cash for a player that will be available on a free in the summer.
Joao Mario, Inter Milan
Mourinho is willing to offload his Armenia international, but quite whether that means the player wants to get involved in a complicated transfer deal is unlikely.
While Mourinho would like to bring someone in that allows Pogba a more free role, particularly as Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini have been missing, swap deals of any kind are difficult to negotiate.
Sources in Manchester have suggested that United would rather have straight cash from any deal for Mkhitaryan at this stage.
Fred, Shakhtar Donetsk
United scouts are convinced Fred could become a world beater if he moves to Old Trafford.
At one stage last year they were hoping to agree a deal beneath the radar, but he now has a cluster of clubs across Europe looking at him as he has been a standout player for Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Brazilian central midfielder is believed to be keen on the prospect of a Premier League switch in 2018 and there is a belief he would suit the style of English football.
One well-placed source told me he believes that of all the players mentioned here there is a "good chance" Fred is one that will join United this year—although it may not be until the summer.