DECISIONS, DECISIONS: WHO IS ON MANCHESTER UNITED’S RADAR IN THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW?
Manchester United’s January is going as well as everyone probably thought it would never go in the history of the Premier League. After losing to cross town rivals Manchester City, eternal league rivals Liverpool and then a struggling Burnley, the reaction from Ed Woodward, Ole Gunnar Solksjær and Co. has ranged from questionable to abysmal to disappointing to downright disrespectful. Even then, United are a huge club with enough grit to still pull the kind of miracle it will now take to finish at a respectable position, but assessment will have to be done about their options for nuary and the summer forthcoming.
The transfer policies behind the scenes at Old Trafford have been dragged through the mud and beating dead horses cannot be the MO. Nevertheless, it must be brought to concern that the Bruno Fernandes transfer saga, which has become much more of an internationally covered debacle than a saga should have been signed and sealed before their catastrophic defeat to Burnley. The 25-year-old Portuguese playmaker, who can operate in multiple positions on the pitch has been linked with United for about a year now, with numbers like €70 million pounds being thrown around. Rightfully earning his place in the transfer market with 15 goals and 14 assists in 27 games, ruling the roost the Liga NOS, the sheer fact that the Red Devils are haggling for a few million euros is staggering information brought to light to say the least.
Missing out on Erling Braut Håland to Borussia Dortmund was once again a crystal-clear indication of United’s ineptness in the transfer market. If the Norwegian’s 5 goals in 2 matches is just a trailer of what’s to come, that’s a film the red side of Manchester would not want to watch.
But, assessing what other options United have, we come to two likely and majorly unlikely alternatives.
Aston Villa are a club back to languishing in the bottom reaches of the Premier League, tightly locked in a scrap for survival and their captain and star man, Jack Grealish has been sensational, to say the least. Shining like a diamond in the rough, the 24-year old fits the Ole requirement: young, English and promising. Scoring 9 and laying down 6 assists in 26 games, it’s his bombing runs down the left that have opposition fans tearing their scarves and cursing their luck every time he takes to the pitch. Any deal would have to be lucrative and wrapped up quickly though, as we don’t imagine the Villains having problems finding other suitors or waiting for a bidding war come June.
Another suitable addition in the gaffer’s mould would be the highly-rated James Maddison. The twinkle-toed Englishman is gifted with a wand of a right foot, capable of scoring worldies for fun and his ability to make late runs into the box and go for goal can bring even the strongest defences unto their knees. The 23-year-old is a major reason for Leicester City’s continued underdog success story with 9 goals and 3 assists in 27 games. But it’s not his numbers but his consistent brilliance which has him priced €25 million higher than Grealish at €60 million. A thing to watch out for, however, is how Leicester manage to milk every last cent of profit out of their outgoing players, case in point- Harry Maguire.
And now we are at the comparatively unfathomable. Interest in the enigmatic Sergej Milinković-Savić has been said to be reignited, but we doubt Lazio will settle for less than a fee in and around the region of the €100 million quoted last summer. Christian Eriksen is another has been linked to United in the past but his imminent move to Inter Milan is just about football’s worst kept secret at the moment.
Manchester United will have to fix this leak, and fast; the January transfer window would certainly be a good time to start. The Premier League moves at a pace which would give light a run for its money and it would suffice to say that without a long hard look at all the cogs in this giant machinery of a club, things look very grim here on out.