Manchester United could sell two of their star players to make way for a summer move for Gareth Bale as reports linking the Real Madrid record signing with a Premier League return refuse to go away.
Bale has come under gorwing criticism this season despite scoring the winning goal in last season’s Champions League final, effectively sealing La Decima for the Spanish greats. But his second season in Madrid has not been as productive, and with Barcelona clear at the top of La Liga, the Real fans are growing restless with the team’s perceived failures.
That looks almost certain to end Carlo Ancelotti’s reign at Real, with Wednesday’s Champions League exit at the hands of Juventus, but it appears that Bale could also be the victim of a season of underachieving.
Manchester United: Potential transfer targets summer 2015
Manchester United: Potential transfer targets summer 2015
1/10 Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton, 24)
With Rafael never getting close to favour under Louis van Gaal, right-back has been a problem area all season for United, with Antonio Valencia filling in at the position. Whilst Valencia has done well, Clyne is now England’s first choice and easily in the top three in his position in the Premier League. Southampton will not want to sell another one of their stars, but the player seemingly wants to move.
2/10 Radamel Falcao (Monaco, 29)
Who knows what will happen with the Colombian. Certainly he is not worth anywhere close to the mega move United were considering when they agreed to loan him last summer, having only scored four goals all season. But with his track record as one of the world’s best, United would be foolish not to consider a cut-price move, just in case he’s not broken once and for all.
3/10 Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, 25)
If a deal were to go through it would be an absolutely massive coup for the club, of course, and you know Manchester United will be exploring any possibility of a move. Despite his perceived unhappiness in Spain, Bale’s agent said he will be staying at the Bernabeu next season. Would cost a massive fee but would instantly turn the club into title contenders.
4/10 Edinson Cavani (PSG, 28)
Manchester United will surely be tempted if he is available despite having bigger needs elsewhere in their squad. Despite the perception that he has struggled to fit in at PSG, Cavani still has 50 goals in 91 matches for the club and has played the majority of his time there out of position on the wing. Tall and athletic he seems like a perfect fit for the Premier League, although he will cost a huge fee.
5/10 Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, 28)
The potential transfer of the Spurs and France No 1 is entirely wrapped in the future of David De Gea - if the Spaniard moves to Real Madrid then United will be scrambling for a new goalkeeper and there aren’t many better than Lloris. He’s four years older than De Gea but still young for a keeper.
6/10 Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund, 24)
With Michael Carrick ageing and Wayne Rooney forced to play in the middle at various points this season, central midfield will be one of Van Gaal’s top priorities. The Borussia Dortmund man, 24, is a classy operator, strong on the tackle and a box-to-box threat. He is apparently being chased by Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, among others, so United will have to move quickly.
7/10 Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund, 26)
The World Cup winner should be United’s top target this summer, they have no bigger hole to fill than in the centre of their defence. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are all talented defenders, but none of them have the leadership skills necessary and are a level below the very best. Hummels’ arrival would immediately improve the whole backline.
8/10 Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia, 27)
Like Hummels, Otamendi is the dominant type of centre-back that United are missing. He’s a bit on the short side – 6ft – but is a forceful character and very competent on the ball. Louis van Gaal should be considering a move for both, although that will take out a significant chunk of his transfer budget.
9/10 Kevin Strootman (Roma, 25)
It seems as if Louis van Gaal has been linked with the Roma midfielder for the entirety of his reign, who suffered another knee injury back in January and has only played seven times in all competitions this season, his only games since the original injury last April. If he can get back to full fitness then the Dutchman is a dominant midfielder with an eye for goal. But it’s a big ‘if’.
10/10 Felipe Anderson (Lazio, 22)
The Brazilian attacking midfielder has been linked with a £30m move to Old Trafford despite stating he wanted to stay in Rome. The 22-year-old scored 10 goals and added seven assists for Lazio last season and is seen as a potential star of the future.
According to The Mirror, United will follow up their interest with a huge offer for Bale, but not before they sell striker Robin van Persie and current club record signing Angel Di Maria – who cost the club a hefty £59.7m just last summer.
Van Persie has had to endure another season of injury troubles similar to those that he experienced at Arsenal, and has been in and out of the first team under manager Louis van Gaal. Van Persie was left disillusioned following the surprise retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. The appointment of Van Gaal, who worked with Van Persie during their time together with the Netherlands national team, helped Van Persie settle down once again, but the United fans have not taken to the striker as was initially expected and he could be on his way out of the club in the summer.
Di Maria is another who not only struggled this season, but lost his place in the starting line-up. His arrival at Old Trafford from Real last season was greeted with endless optimism among United supporters, but a burglary at his Cheshire home appeared to rattle the Argentinian and he went through a run of poor form that included a brainless red card in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal for grabbing referee Michael Oliver.
If the pair do indeed leave the club this summer, Van Gaal will see £500,000 shifted off his weekly wage bill, and the club have already revealed that they have the funds to launch a move for Bale should they wish to do so even though they have agreed a reported £23m deal to sign Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven.
The news comes just a day after The Sunday Express journalist John Richardson appeared to confirm that a move for Bale was “almost a done deal” on the club’s official TV channel.
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