With the January transfer window looming, transfer rumours and gossip are destined to swarm across social media and news outlets throughout Europe. Although the window does predominantly tend to include more speculation than it does lavish spending, January spending has provided clubs down the years with an opportunity to strengthen and in some instances, a chance to kick start their campaign.
Despite Manchester United currently lying in second place, they do however trail their noisy neighbours by a hefty eight points and could therefore explore recruits during the upcoming window, in the hope of strengthening their title challenge.
Although January transfer signings seem to be scarce around Old Trafford, the last one being Juan Mata back in 2014, there is a strong possibility that Jose Mourinho will delve into the market – especially with many marquee players becoming available. We have therefore examined United’s top three options:
Estimated cost: £30 – 40 m
Likelihood of transfer: 8/10
The left-back spot at Old Trafford has certainly been a troubled position over the last two years and despite Ashley Young’s impressive performances across the last few weeks, Mourinho will certainly be in the market for a more long-term option. The most prominent name being linked with a move to United has certainly been Danny Rose, who after falling out with manager Mauricio Pochettino, has only started two Premier League games all season.
The Englishman’s quality however cannot be called into question, and he is certainly the type of energetic and dynamic fullback, the current United side are desperately lacking.
Following Luke Shaw’s injury back in 2015, it would be a fair assessment in stating that The Reds haven’t had a consistent left-back on the team sheet since the days of Patrice Evra, and whilst the likes of Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind are competent options on a rotational basis, neither have managed to nail the position as their own. Contrary to the opposite wing, where Antonio Valencia is bursting up and down the right flank all game long, the left hand side of Mourinho’s team is one deprived of attacking support, and creates an unbalanced impact on the whole team.
As mentioned, Rose has found game time rather limited thus far this season and speculation around his future has certainly intensified, after being left out of the North London derby against Arsenal last November. With other versatile options such as Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies and also Summer signing Serge Aurier in the squad, Tottenham certainly possess a bolstered squad when it comes to their full back options and may see Rose’s situation as an opportunity to cash in, in order to strengthen other areas of the side. On paper, the proposed deal certainly looks fitting for both parties, and one that may hold some validity, if Rose’s game time fails to improve.
Estimated cost: £95m
Likelihood of transfer: 6.5/10
One name that United fans have certainly become accustom to being linked with is undoubtedly Atletico Madrid forward, Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman looked destined to arrive at Old Trafford last summer, with the not so secret €100m deal falling through due to Greizmann’s loyalty to the Spanish side, who would have been unable to sign a replacement following their transfer ban. Despite this supposed ‘snub,’ a player who secured third placed spot for the Balon d’Or just last year, there are very few teams across Europe who wouldn’t fancy the Frenchman in their own attacking lineup.
Whilst operating predominantly as the no.10 in an Ateltico system that is built around him, Griezmann is granted a license to drift around the pitch and act as the side’s attacking driving force, a role he tends to flourish in. The Frenchman’s incredible attacking prowess and versatility are factors that categorise him within that bracket of world-class forwards, as through his quick acceleration, close agile dribbling and clinical finishing, the talented attacker is a player who possesses the whole package.
When analysing United’s current attacking midfield options, it is perhaps no surprise to see why they are back in the race for Griezmann, as following a dip in form from both Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the spot in behind the lone striker is certainly a position up for grabs at present. Whilst many outlets are reporting that Griezmann’s current release clause remains at €100m, United may consider testing the water with a bid during the January transfer window, particularly with Atletico’s unexpected Champions League exit. The Frenchman has certainly made his friendship with Paul Pogba no secret, and has had United fans demanding for the services of #AgentP to work his magic.
Estimated cost: £13.5m
Likelihood of transfer: 4/10
Whilst perhaps being a rather unfamiliar name with most English fans, Sander Berge is one of Norway’s most recent promising stars, a nation that has experienced an increase in potential prospects across the last couple of years. The Genk midfielder, despite being just 19-years-old, currently holds seven senior caps at international level, and has been turning heads across the whole of Europe following his impressive performances.
As a 6”2 defensive midfielder, the 19-year-old, on paper would typically be associated with an orthodox static style of play, but in the modern game where midfielders are expected to hold down numerous positions across the pitch, Berge can be categorised under the ever growing role of a multi-functional midfielder.
Despite operating from deep and holding defensive responsibilities, Berge is certainly a player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and excels in turning defence into attack, within the blink of an eye. Whether it be carrying the ball out from his own halve or distributing between the lines, Berge has quickly become recognised for his all-round style of play, showcasing his mature ability in balancing between his offensive and defensive duties.
Although there has been very little speculation with regards to Berge being linked with a move to United, the Norway international is somebody that we can identify as looking like a ‘Mourinho type player.’ With central midfielders, particularly creative ones, being a rather depleted area in United’s current squad, Berge may appear as an appealing prospect to United, particularly as his reputation begins to rise.
Written by Josh Gmerek-Iftakahr