After spending a whooping GBP 150m in the 2014 summer transfer window, English giants Manchester United are set for a similar splurge next season. Reports suggest that United will hand manager Louis van Gaal a war chest in excess of GBP 150m for the next season.
The Red Devils are linked with big moves for world class players that include the likes of Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Kevin Strootman (Roma), Dani Alves (Barcelona) and Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) for a grand figure that could exceed a total of GBP 150m.
The post-Alex Ferguson era has seen United struggle in the Premier League as the club hit a new low when they finished seventh last season.
Under former manager David Moyes, United secured the services of Marouane Fellani and Juan Mata for a combined GBP 65m last season. But still, many pundits criticised the spending considering the limited return these two buys fetched. Also, they rued the missed opportunity of signing midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos.
This season under new manager Louis van Gaal, the club broke the British transfer fee record when they purchased Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for a mammoth GBP 59.7m. Several other new faces entered the club such as Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw as the Dutchman spent around GBP 150m. They also got Radamel Falcao on loan from French side AS Monaco.
Several players left the club in the summer including veterans Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic. The club also let go off Alexander Buttner, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, Bebe and Federico Macheda. Another feature of the summer departures saw several players leave on loan such as the likes of Angelo Henriquez, Wilfred Zaha, Nick Powell, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley and Nani.
United are expected to see several other faces depart this time too. Anders Lindegaard is expected to make way in January itself. Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes who is training with United could be signed for a free transfer given the equation he shares with Louis van Gaal.
Central midfielders Anderson and Darren Fletcher are in the last year of their contracts and it is unlikely the club will renew their deals.
The future of youngsters such as Henriquez, Zaha and Powell are uncertain, but the rest of the loanees are unlikely to be brought back into the side as the club will seek new buyers.
The situation of Radamel Falcao too appears unsettled. The injury ridden striker has netted just once for United this season, and with the basis of his contract, that could see a permanent move collapse altogether. He will cost United a mammoth GBP 43.5m, if the club are to sign him permanently. With his injury record, the manager will be reluctant to go for his long-term services.
In order to compete with Europe's finest and stake their claim on English soil once again, United are looking to become a team full of “Galaticos” just like top European clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Here is a look at the top 5 players reported to be under United's scanner.
Diego Godin: The Uruguayan has a GBP 28m buy-out clause that is expected to be met by United with a move predicted as early as the January transfer window. Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone refuted the claims that the Spanish champions will let the 28-year-old leave. Godin will add a lot of experience to the United defence and can anchor the backline with ease. United, who have been badly hit with injuries especially to the defenders, need a consistent performer and Godin fits the bill perfectly. The likes of Phil Jones, Johnny Evans and Chris Smalling have often been sidelined over the years with various injuries and the question of their leadership potential still persists.
Mats Hummels: United were linked with the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner all summer but the Borussia Dortmund skipper was handed a new deal in 2014. The German international had then stated that he was keen to stay at Ruhr Valley for a long time pouring cold water on United's advance. But the transfer saga has once again surfaced, as the defender is linked with a summer move in 2015. If United do manage to get Hummels, one of the current central defenders out of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Johnny Evans could see the exit door. Hummels will cost United around GBP 32m.
Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich attacking forward shares a special bond with Louis van Gaal. After having linked up with him earlier in the Bundesliga and recently in the international arena for Holland, the United manager is an ardent admirer of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid star. United wanted him this summer but Robben decided to stay put with the German champions. The experienced campaigner will be a vital addition if United manage to get his signature. With Van Gaal wanting to get in a proven wide-man, Robben would be ideal.
Dani Alves: The Brazilian has been one of the main players for Barcelona over the years winning many trophies. However last year, the 31-year-old expressed his desire for a move away from Catalonia and was linked with PSG. But nothing materialised and it leaves Alves on the final year of his contract, post which he would be available on a free transfer. United are keen to get him to England where he will have to fight for a place in the side with fellow Brazilian Rafael. With all the experience Alves has, he leads the line of United's wish-list.
Kevin Strootman: The Dutch international missed out on the World Cup and Roma's new season this term after a horrific injury and that prevented him making a move to United in the summer. Earlier, reports suggested that Strootman had agreed over a potential GBP 30m fee for a move next summer. Strootman wants to play under Van Gaal and the latter wants him to be the main force in United's midfield. With Arturo Vidal having decided against jumping ship, Strootman is expected to revitalise the central midfield area and provide competition to Herrera, Blind and Fellaini.