After the capture of Memphis Depay from PSV before the season had even come to a close, United fans may have been forgiven for assuming that transfer business would be conducted swiftly. Unlike last season where new manager Louis van Gaal would join up with the team just before tour following a full World Cup campaign, the Dutchman jetted off to the Algarve for his summer jaunt, with a list of targets reportedly already handed over and plans mapped out with Ed Woodward.
Almost two months later, and just three weeks before the Reds first tour match with Club America, Depay remains the solitary addition to the United ranks. Rumours are rife – as they always are – but most appear pure speculation, lacking any real substance or clarity. Social media too has gone into overdrive and if rumours were to be believed, the likes of Ronaldo, Bale & Pogba to name but a few could be plying their trade at Old Trafford next season. But with these incessant transfer rumours, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff, after all, the chances of either of the three names mentioned above joining United are slim at best.
We can certainly expect things to hot up on the transfer front in terms of action any time from now, amid suggestions that Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin could be close to agreeing a switch.
Lets run the rule over some of those names that just won’t go away.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) Central Midfield – Age: 25
Schneiderlin rumours have gathered significant pace over recent weeks from a number of different sources, suggesting that a £24million deal for the midfielder could be done as soon as this week. The Frenchman did join up with is Saints teammates today for the beginning of pre-season training suggesting that a deal may perhaps be further away from completion that reports suggest. A well documented rift between Koeman and van Gaal could well scupper the deal, or see the Saints prefer to sell to Arsenal, who too have long admired the player.
Van Gaal has already specified that he looks for someone to occupy the no. 6 position and the Frenchman would offer a lot to what is currently a fairly lightweight United midfield. Having been a star at Southampton five years ago in their League One days, Schneiderlin now finds himself one of the most coveted in the Premier League and a fully fledged international.
More of a defensive operator, Scheiderlin offers a little more tenacity to our current midfield, averaging 3.7 tackles per game as well as registering an impressive 89% pass completion in the Premier League last season, as per whoscored.com.
Although potentially a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick, the Frenchman would seamlessly slot into the side right away alongside both Carrick and Herrera in the middle of the park. Certainly a much more attractive proposition than Marouane Fellaini.
Bookmakers odds don’t always reflect the true nature of a situation, but with most having shut up shop on betting on the 25-year-old’s next club, for most this one seems a matter of when and not if on this one.
Sergio Ramos (Read Madrid) Centre-Back – Age: 29
Last week, rumours started to gather pace, not only of United’s interest in the Real Madrid defender, but similarly that the 29-year-old’s relationship with his current employers has become untenable to the extent that he too might entertain offers. First suggestions were that any deal for Ramos would come hand-in-hand with any potential deal for David de Gea, with the keeper being used as a makeweight. Now, contrasting reports suggest that United could be willing to do a deal, regardless of the fate of United’s current number 1.
The Spaniard wouldn’t come cheap would a move materialise, with fees upwards of £50-60m being suggested, a huge sum for a player turning 30 during the forthcoming campaign. What he does bring though, is a wealth of experience, having won almost all there is to win both at domestic and international levels. Ramos too represents a significant goal threat, much more so than the likes of Chris Smalling, or Nemanja Vidic before him. He registered seven goals last season, and in 10 seasons at the Bernebeau has managed 55 successful strikes on goal.
Ramos would certainly sure up an area of great concern for United, where Smalling and Jones could once again benefit from having an experienced campaigner organising them once again, something they have found wanting since Vidic and Ferdinand’s departures. However, the defender is more than prone to the odd error – as highlighted excellently here by Squawka’s Greg Johnson – which could prevent him being the dominant force we have so longed for in the post Stam/Vidic eras.
The Ramos signing just doesn’t quite get me as excited as it might have done two or three years ago, particularly for the fee mentioned, although he would undoubtedly strengthen an area, which requires urgent attention. The more likely situation seems that Ramos signs a new contract at Madrid and United are forced to look elsewhere.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) Central Midfield – Age: 30
Having campaigned at Bayern for 17 years now, it seems unlikely that the Germany captain would want to up and leave now, but growing competition in Pep Guardiola’s impressive squad mean that Schweinsteiger’s starting place is no longer a guarantee.
Despite turning 31 this season, the German could provide significant reinforcement to the United midfield. A born-leader, already familiar with the current manager, logic suggests Schweinsteiger slips effortlessly into the side and acting as an ideal role model for some of the younger pros to look up to.
Bayern seem content on letting the midfielder leave if that were his wish, but as mentioned, his desire to leave a club where he is adored and achieved so much over an extended period of time seems like a long shot. An ideal addition, but expect him to stay with the German champions and chase his ninth Bundesliga title.
Seamus Coleman (Everton) Right-Back – Age: 26
Coleman has long been linked with solving United’s full-back issues, but talk of a switch from Merseyside took its time to get going this summer. “Sky Sources” as well as many others are now reporting that United and Everton are in discussions over the player in what could be a £25m transfer.
A right-back would certainly be high on the priority list, with Rafael largely un-fancied by van Gaal, while Valencia has occupied the position for much of the previous campaign. A move for Coleman would going a long way to explaining why United evidently failed to capitalise on a move for Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne, who is Liverpool-bound in what looks an extremely good value deal at £12.5m.
Coleman, who has been pictured wearing a United shirt in his youth may well be open to a deal given that basis, but as one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League in recent years in his position would likely command a fee to represent this, particularly given the five-year contract he penned at Goodison last summer.
The Evertonian’s style of play would certainly appeal to van Gaal, with the Ireland international just as comfortable at wing-back as full-back and therefore easily adaptable if LVG attempts to trial his 3-5-2 again next season. Coleman’s ability to get forward and contribute to scoring as well as assisting make him an extremely suitable candidate to make the short switch across the North-West.
Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia) Centre-Back – Age: 27
To the surprise of many, it’s Argentine, Otamendi who has been widely tipped as our main defensive reinforcement this summer, ahead of the likes of Mats Hummels, whose name has consistently been linked with the Reds following the World Cup.
Of all potential incomings this summer, it is the Valencia defender’s name which has been cropping up the most often, with a £35m deal with the Spanish club mooted. The 27-year-old’s capture seems to be one of the most popular with the fans of all linked, although how many of those have seen much of Otamendi in action is questionable.
I watched the Valencia man closely in Argentina’s 0-0 draw with Colombia, where he not only looked strong and very capable in his defensive duties, but also a significant goal-threat from set pieces, forcing David Ospina into one particularly good save to deny his header. Six goals for his club side last term suggest there might be some consistency in that department.
Otamendi was a key figure in ensuring Valencia returned to Champions League football and has alerted the like of United, Real Madrid and Manchester City because of this. If Real were to move for the defender, it might hamper United’s willingness to negotiate over a deal for De Gea, although could put the nail in Sergio Ramos’ Madrid career.
United will hope that Valencia owner, Peter Lim’s links with the Class of ’92 (he has a 50% stake in Salford City) can help swing any deal for Otamendi in United’s favour and ensure the best deal can be done for both parties. The Argentine could well find himself United-bound after the conclusion of the Copa America, but we may well have to wait until the tournament finishes to see any more developments as far as this one is concerned. Besides, who can ever second-guess Van Gaal?
Who would you like to see United bring in this summer?