David Moyes has hinted that he will undertake a major overhaul of the Manchester United squad this summer. “This club has got spending power,” he beamed. “I do think the club will compete.”
But if they’re going to challenge for the title again, or even just return to the top four, who do they need to buy? We asked Iain Macintosh to pick five targets...
Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen was one of last season’s most consistently impressive centre-backs, a defender very much in the Gandalf (You. Shall. Not. Pass) mode. This season, it’s been a different story. The 26-year-old Belgian has been shuffled across the back four and has lost his edge. He’s thought to be less than satisfied with the progress of the club and while he wants Champions League football, playing at Old Trafford might provide some consolation. It will almost certainly require a £20m+ bid, but if Moyes can help him rediscover his best form, he’ll be buying one of the best defenders in Europe.
Players of the calibre of Toni Kroos do not become available very often, and if there’s even a chance of luring him to Old Trafford, Moyes should take it. The German international is out of contract next summer and is currently playing hardball with Bayern Munich. Club president Franz Beckenbauer has warned Kroos not to get greedy. “Everyone is replaceable,” he growled recently. But while Bayern boast a stockpile of attacking midfielders, United do not. They should break the bank to land this one. You remember all of those things that Tom Cleverley said he couldn’t do? Well, Kroos can do them.
United are rich, but they’re not so rich they can fight a bidding war on several fronts. Rather than allowing themselves to be caught up in an expensive fight for Luke Shaw, a fine young left-back who should be an established international of the future, why not snatch someone who already is an established international? Fabio Coentrao might only be a fringe player for Real Madrid, but he’s a regular for Portugal and could be available for far less than Shaw will cost, especially when Manchester City and Chelsea have finished waving their credit cards at him.
I think we all know that Alexander Buttner isn’t going to be the long term answer at left-back, so if Patrice Evra is off, why not get rid of the Dutchman as well and start again? With Coentrao as the first choice, Swansea’s Ben Davies would make an idea understudy. The young Welshman has composure beyond his years, is technically impressive and strong in the tackle. He proved that he could handle a sudden step up when Neil Taylor’s injury thrust him into the first team, so this wouldn’t faze him either. If Ed Woodward plays his cards right, he could get both left-backs for the price of one Luke Shaw.
There were suggestions in last weekend’s tabloids that United were close to completing a deal for Sporting Lisbon’s young defensive midfielder William Carvalho, but if that deal falls through, perhaps Maxime Gonalons would do instead? The 25-year-old Lyon midfielder is more than just another snappy guard dog and he’s been on Arsenal and Napoli’s shopping list for some time. He’s technically excellent, he’s tall, he can run all day and he’s got quite the shot on him. Lyon, back in fifth in Ligue 1, might struggle to keep him this summer. United have been crying out for a defensive midfielder for years. Maybe he’s the one.