With Manchester City guaranteed to invest again in the coming months, regardless of where the Premiership trophy ends up, Sir Alex Ferguson will again have to make a few signings to ensure that we stay ahead of the ‘Noisy Neighbours’. With Fergie having already signed most of the top British talent such as Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young, United’s signings could be coming from abroad this year. Alan Pardew at Newcastle has shown that there are some real gems in Europe’s leagues after receiving a great return on investment from the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Davide Santon, and in more recent times, Papiss Cisse.
Here are five players that may or may not end up at Old Trafford this summer (obviously we won’t be signing all of them):
1. Eden Hazard, Lille: Price Tag: 30-40 million Euros. I’ve put Hazard on the top of this list because he is the one player that I would love United to sign the most (considering only realistic transfer targets). The Belgian, still only 21, has racked up over 180 appearances for Lille, and is simply the best player in Ligue 1. Hazard is capable of playing on the flank or in a number 10 role. He won’t come cheap and he’ll have more than a few suitors, so United would do well to get to the front of the cue to sign this excellent young player.
2. Javi Martinez, Bilbao: Price Tag: 20-30 million Euros. This one will be familiar to United fans having been a part of the very impressive Bilbao team that blew United off the park over two legs in the Europa League. He is a full Spain international and was a key member of the Spanish side that won the U21 European Championships last year. Martinez is regarded as one of the top talents in Europe and can play as a holding midfielder or in the centre of defense. Could be a viable option for United with central midfield probably one of the key areas Sir Alex will look to strengthen.
3. Lucas Moura, Sau Paulo: Price Tag: 15-20 million Euros. This young attacking midfielder is the latest sensation to emerge from Brazil following the arrivals of Neymar and Ganso. At just 19 he has already made over 80 appearances for Sau Paulo and 11 for Brazil. Although he has amazing talent, it is difficult to see where he could fit in at United, with Sir Alex repeatedly stating he doesn’t like to play with a genuine number 1o, and prefers a rigid 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 formation. Looks destined for Europe and has been linked with United in the last few weeks. The video below is well worth a watch.
4. Nicolas Gaitan, Benfica: Price Tag: 35 million Euros. Gaitan has been linked heavily with a move to one of the Manchester clubs this summer following excellent displays for Benfica. Like Hazard, Gaitan is equally capable of playing out wide or through the middle of the park. At 24, he’s a little bit older than the other players in this article, but is still young enough to establish himself in a new environment before he hits the traditional peak years in the mid to late 20’s. Despite some good performances in Europe, 35 million could be a little too pricey for someone with no experience in Europe’s very top leagues.
5. James Rodriguez, FC Porto: Price Tag: 20-25 million Euros. Here’s one that a lot of people won’t have heard of but has quietly been going about his business over in Portugal with FC Porto. The Colombian winger has scored 12 goals in the Portugese league this season and has chipped in with 7 assists. He has a release clause in his contract set at 45 million Euros but that price would have to come down quite a way before United seriously considered buying him. Rodriguez is a top young player who is finally starting to display the talent that has been waiting to be showcased for the last three or four years. At only 20, he is right up there with the most highly rated youngsters in Europe.
Its no coincidence that all 5 players I have listed here are midfielders, as both wide and central midfield are areas that will likely be strengthened over the summer. There is some great foreign talent out there but the question remains to be answered whether or not Sir Alex will pay what some of these clubs are asking for.
It seems top talent comes at a premium these days.
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