Amid talk of a £300m transfer war chest, who will Man United target this summer?
Change looks certain to be on the agenda at Manchester United in the second half of 2016 and that will almost certainly lead to a radical overhaul of the playing staff.
With United refusing to dismiss widespread reports that Jose Mourinho has been lined up to replace manager Louis van Gaal, there is now a growing belief that the Dutchman will be replaced by his former mentor and already the transfer rumours are starting to swirl around Old Trafford.
The glowing financial report delivered by United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on Thursday confirmed that the club will be ready to spend big again next summer, with Mourinho likely to be calling the shots by the time new players next arrive at the Theatre of Dreams.
Woodward’s lamentable efforts in his transfer dealings over recent years suggests Mourinho would be wise to clarify the control he will be given in player recruitment before he signs on the dotted line at Old Trafford, but what targets are likely to be on his radar next summer?
Amid talk of a £300m transfer war chest for whoever is leading United next season, here is your Independent.ie guide to the players United look set to target next summer.
Club: Real Madrid
United’s links with Bale date back to their botched attempt to sabotage his world record breaking move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013 and they have made numerous bids to sign the Welshman in the last two summers.
Ed Woodward and United appear to have made those offers for players without assessing availability prior to that bid being put in and with Real Madrid refusing to sell Bale, a deal was never possible in the last two summer transfer windows. That could change if the price was right ahead of next season, with Bale's camp reported to be open to a move back to England after his three years in Spain.
Club: Borussia Dortmund
United have been linked with moves for this powerhouse centre-back for the last two years, with Borussia Dortmund confirming that they received bids from United for the player last summer.
Hummels may be more tempted to make the move as United next summer as they look to find a commanding figure at the heart of their defensive line to complement the talents of Chris Smalling.
Club: Bayern Munich
There are strong rumours that this Polish striker is destined to join Real Madrid, but he would appear to have all the attributes to make a quick impact in the Premier League.
Lewandowski would not come cheap and Bayern Munich may not be willing sellers, but his agents keeps cropping up in the media suggesting a move might be possible. This is a story to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Club: Real Madrid
Okay, we are all tired of the Ronaldo returning to Man Utd stories, but it must be a more realistic prospect of Mourinho and his hugely influential agent Jorge Mendes are pulling the strings at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s relationship with Mourinho at Real Madrid was not said to be without complications, but the duo could surely work together if the price was right for a player who is now 31. This story will not go away.
Tottenham are insisting that they will not consider selling their talisman any time soon and as Kane has become a symbol of the club’s rise in recent seasons, it is hard to see them sanctioning a deal for the England striker.
Yet mega-money has forced Spurs to sell in the past and few would be surprised if they were to buckle under a huge bid for their star striker. There were suggestions that United were interest in Kane from United last summer and his £70,000-a-week wage at Spurs is a fraction of what he could get at Old Trafford.
Club: Real Madrid
Those infamous and oft ridiculed United ‘sources’ were claiming that United would sign this German World Cup winner in the summer of 2014, but he turned down a move to Old Trafford in favour of joining Real Madrid.
Mourinho will need a leader in his midfield engine room and whole Kross has not always shown his best form in Real Madrid colours, he would fit the mould.
Club: Athletic Bilbao
Former Barcelona defender turned football agent Carles Puyol sent Twitter into meltdown on Thursday as he posted a picture of himself in Manchester, sparking rumours that his client Laporte could be the subject of interest from both United and City.
It turns out Puyol was in England to agree a new contract for his client Bojan Krkic at Stoke, but one of the finest young defenders in the game seems primed for a move next summer and he may be tempted to team-up with Pep Guardiola at City or Mourinho at Old Trafford.
Club: Sporting Lisbon
This talented midfielder signed a new contract with his current employers earlier this week and an inflated £35m buy-out clause was inserted.
Carvalho has long been linked with Arsenal, but he is a client of Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes and that link could see him move to United if the former Chelsea boss is in charge.
Club: Real Madrid
Another player in the stable of agent Jorge Mendes, Rodriguez’s links with a move to Man Utd sparked last summer and eventually came to nothing.
Expect his name is linked with United once more if Mourinho is in charge at Old Trafford, with this Colombian star of the 2014 World Cup finals liable be a sensation in the Premier League if he rediscovers his best form.