Silly season is the most apt title for the transfer window due to the sheer amount of players linked with the top clubs across Europe. With the planet’s elite footballers all on the world stage in Brazil, United have been tipped to buy every lad who has put in a half decent performance for his country. It is difficult to decipher between fact and fiction when determining who is on Van Gaal’s famous list but we can be reasonably confident about which positions the Dutchman wants to strengthen.
Defensively United looked nervous and disorganised throughout last season. Now with the departures of the ever reliable Ferdinand and captain Nemanja Vidic, purchasing a centre back is the number one priority at United. Big money moves for Hummel’s and Mangala, bringing in his boy from Holland in De Vrij and a rather surprising move for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen have been the main centre defensive moves linked to the club over the summer and it is safe to assume that United’s new defence will include one of these players. An element of realism must be injected into predicting which of these players will be coming to Old Trafford. Hummel’s and Mangala will both cost north of £25 million. Whilst they may be better players, it is likely Van Gaal will risk a bargain and sign Vermaelen, De Vrij or both.
The purchase of Ander Herrera has already given United’s midfield a classier appearance. Centrally the team has been weak for years and the problem was greatly exposed last season. No pace through the middle made United notoriously easy to play against as sides funnelled their play to the wings were under-performing and incapable wingers failed to create 5 goals between them. Herrera adds the pace, now aggression and strength will complete the central overhaul. Again the club have been tipped to either splash the cash on superstars such as Vidal or Pogba, to raid the Dutch camp for City fan favourite De Jong or make another raid on Sporting Lisbon for the relatively unproven William Carvalho. Van Gaal bases all his teams on a world class midfielder which is shown by the fact he completely changed his World Cup tactics once he knew Kevin Strootman would not be available to him in Brazil. His emphasis in this position has led to United being very strongly linked with making an opening £40 million bid for Vidal as early as next week. For me he will be United’s stellar signing this window.
Attacking wise,United have a wealth of talent. With a strong midfield they will be able to express this again next season. From watching Holland the media have latched on to the fact that Van Gaal will not have a wide option with anywhere near as much talent as Arjen Robben. Thus the all familiar pattern with United transfer stories has unfolded. Breaking the bank for World cup stars Sanchez or James, using his Dutch connection to snatch Robben himself or going for youth in a move for PSV’s Memphis Depay. Buying a winger might be something Van Gaal is strongly considering however for me this may be the move that is put on hold in favour of tackling the more pressing defensive and midfield problems. Further developing Januzaj and attempting to bring Valencia back to his 2011/12 heights will suffice until Van Gaal can properly assess the squad he has.
Predicting the market is, as I have said, a tough task but these moves represent the most realistic and likely to happen over the course of the summer.