Six players Manchester United need to sign to strengthen their squad
Published 17/08/2014 | 12:17
Manchester United's opening day defeat to Swansea - with two United youngsters making their debuts in the starting XI - highlighted the urgent need for Louis van Gaal to strengthen his squad if he is going to get the club back into the Champions League at the first time of asking.
Here, we look at some of the players who could help.
1) MARCOS ROJO (Sporting Lisbon)
The Argentina international can play left-back or centre-back, two positions which desperately need strengthening after Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Alex Buttner all left the club over the summer with only Luke Shaw - currently injured - coming in as a replacement. The fact he has occasionally been deployed as a winger only makes Rojo more attractive for Van Gaal's planned 3-5-2 system. However, United's move for him has been stalled by a dispute between Sporting and Rojo's third-party owners.
2) MEHDI BENATIA (Roma)
The 27-year-old France-born Morocco international has been targeted by a number of clubs after a stand-out season with Roma last year, his first in Serie A since joining from Udinese. He was said to be Manchester City's second choice if their protracted move to Eliaquim Mangala fell apart, but United must both forgive him that and see off reported competition from Chelsea if he is to make the north west his home. However, with four years remaining on his Roma deal, Benatia will not come cheap for anyone.
3) DALEY BLIND (Ajax)
Did we mention United need defenders? The 24-year-old Daley Blind would, like Rojo, fit the bill as a versatile left-sided player who can play in defence or midfield, and he knows Van Gaal's modus operandi well through the Dutch national team. Blind, son of Ajax favourite Danny Blind, has played for the Amsterdam club since childhood - bar a brief loan to Groningnen in his youth - so might find leaving the Eredivisie a wrench, but his displays at international level suggest his talent is ready for the next level.
4) ARTURO VIDAL (Juventus)
File this under 'transfer sagas'. The 27-year-old has been "close" to joining United since the end of the World Cup, at least it has seemed that way, and yet a move is seemingly no nearer. A series of conflicting signals from the player, and a fairly steadfast insistence he is not for sale from Juventus, has kept him at arm's distance for now. Some astronomical fees - approaching £45million - have been mentioned, as has a knee injury, and it remains very difficult to read how much genuine interest there is on either side.
5) NIGEL DE JONG (AC Milan)
Whatever the truth to the Vidal rumours, there is no question United need a midfield enforcer. In a move that could break hearts across town, the Red Devils have been linked with former Manchester City hard man Nigel de Jong, another one of Van Gaal's favourites from the Dutch team. A move at least seems feasible, with Milan - like United - out of Europe and undergoing a rebuild, the 29-year-old does not have European football to lose by heading to Old Trafford, although he does not exactly fit United's criteria of targeting young players with their best years ahead of them.
6) ANGEL DI MARIA (Real Madrid)
Another rumour that refuses to go away. Madrid's splurge on James Rodriguez likely leaves the impressive Di Maria kicking his heels on the Bernabeu bench this season, leading to plenty of rumours linking him to both United and PSG. The FFP-restrained Parisiens have ended their interest on cost grounds, seemingly leaving the way clear for United. But while the Argentinian's arrival would do plenty to lift United fans, the club's first priority has to be in defence and defensive midfield. Signing Di Maria alone would do nothing to address the current imbalance of their squad.