Manchester United set their sights on a cheaper Thomas Muller alternative
For Manchester United, this summer transfer window has been something of a mixed bag. They have recruited wisely, especially in the centre of midfield, and yet the feeling remains that there is still something missing.
They lack a little gold dust, a little bit of sparkle to accompany the promising Memphis Depay in the attacking trio fielded behind a lone Wayne Rooney.
Thomas Muller has long been a target, whilst last week the sensational news that the club was weighing up a move for Neymar also broke. In recent days Van Gaal has also been exploring the idea of bringing his compatriot Arjen Robben to the club, but Bayern Munich’s high asking price for the 31 year old are understood to be a sticking point.
And so, new reports suggest that United will instead move for Schalke’s winger, Julian Draxler. Chief Executive Ed Woodward is thought to have become frustrated with the difficulty of landing a marquee move so close to the deadline, and wants to be able to wrap up a big money transfer quickly. And he has been given hope by Draxler, who in the last 48 hours is understood to have rejected the offer of a new contract from Schalke.
Draxler was once regarded as one of the finest young players in Europe, but found his progress stalling last season, because of injury. The young winger made only 8 starts last season in an injury plagued campaign, but has at least started both of Schalke’s matches this season, and the player—who is still only 21—managed to get a full 90 minutes under his belt on both occasions.
However, Draxler is believed to fear that his career is not progressing quickly enough and wants a move away from the Bundesliga in an effort to prove himself not only in a new country, but to the German national team boss, Joachim Low, too. Juventus were initially thought to be leading the race for his signature, but Arsenal have also emerged as contenders.
Tuttosport yesterday broke the story that Draxler could now be available for as little as £21 million, with Schalke determined not to see the player leave the club on a Bosman transfer. They see Draxler as one of their best assets and will be eager to sell him on quickly and for a high price rather than have him play out the remainder of his contract. The fact that Draxler rejected a new contract so late in the window has at least given them a fairly solid position from which to negotiate with other clubs.
United would have no qualms in meeting the asking price for Draxler, and the club’s upper echelons are believed to be more enthused than Van Gaal at the potential move. That’s because Draxler is still very young, and with Depay and Januzaj, would give United one of the youngest and brightest strike forces in Europe.
Providing that Januzaj doesn’t leave the club on loan, that is, which is what The Manchester Evening News are suggesting is a distinct possibility over the next 48 hours.
It was first suggested that Januzaj might leave Old Trafford on a season long loan to develop from playing regular first team football a few weeks ago, but Van Gaal rubbished the idea in his press conferences, and promptly retrained the young Belgian in his first team after he scored the winning goal in Manchester United’s Premier League game against Aston Villa.
However, Januzaj has been in frustrating form since then, and struggled desperately in the recent Champions League qualifier against Brugges. While Memphis Depay—a player only one year his senior—was running the show, Januzaj was able to exert no influence on the game from his favoured central position, and was hauled off by his manager at half time.
Local journalist James Robson has claimed that Everton are the club most interested in taking the midfielder on loan, with Van Gaal growing increasingly resigned to the fact that a run in the first team at a club where the pressure on Januzaj is lower, may benefit the midfielder.
Meanwhile, defender Tyler Blackett will certainly be leaving the club on loan.
The England U21 left-sided centre back made 12 appearances for Man Utd last season, and equipped himself well in the Premier League.
However Blackett, who has previously enjoyed loan spells at Blackpool and Birmingham, is unlikely to get much playing time at United this season, especially considering Daley Blind’s recent positional manoeuvrings, meaning that his manager was happy to sanction a move away from the club.
Blackett now joins Scottish league champions Celtic, where he will stay for the rest of the season, according to BBC Scotland.
And finally, it has been confirmed by Spanish football expert, and occasional Telegraph columnist, Guillem Balague, that Manchester United have abandoned their pursuit of Athletic Bilbao’s 21 year old centre half prodigy, Aymeric Laporte. United were incredibly keen on the player and have been tracking him all summer, but have finally dropped their interest because of his astronomical buy-out clause.
United’s refusal to meet such a fee clears the path for Bayern Munich, who are thought to have made signing Laporte a priority.
Balague told Sky Sports that: “Laporte is now wanted by Bayern Munich. He renewed his contract and now his buy-out clause is set at 50 million euros, which Bilbao will not negotiate. I feel that Manchester United do not feel he is worth that much money.”