Manchester United welcomed their first arrival of the January transfer window when Victor Valdes signed an 18-month contract on Thursday. The 32-year-old goalkeeper, a free agent after leaving Barcelona in the summer, has been training with United since October in an effort to regain fitness after suffering a serious knee injury in March. In the short-term, he will provide competition for David de Gea, but in the medium-term he could be a replacement for the former Atletico Madrid stopper, were he to complete a widely rumored move to Real Madrid.
Valdes’s arrival may not be the only contingency plan for the possible departure of a player who has entered the final 18 months of his contract. The Daily Mirror reports that Manchester United are also eyeing up a transfer for Newcastle United’s Tim Krul, should De Gea head to Madrid this summer. United manager Louis van Gaal famously brought Krul on as a substitute right before the Netherlands’ victorious penalty shootout over Costa Rica in the quarterfinals of the World Cup this summer. However, it is doubtful that Krul, who has been at Newcastle for close to a decade, would move into a situation where he may not be first choice.
Krul is not the only man to have played under Van Gaal with the Netherlands to have been linked with a move to link up once more with the veteran coach at Old Trafford. Kevin Strootman has repeatedly been cited as a target for Manchester United, even before Van Gaal’s arrival, with increased rumors recently that they will step up their attempts to bring him to the club from Roma in the January transfer window. Yet, with the 24-year-old midfielder having only recently returned to action after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in March, he insists that he is keen to make his mark for the club he joined from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2013.
“I’ve signed up for five years, but so far I’ve only been playing for six or seven months,” he told Sky Italia. “I want to play and help the team. That’s important to me. If I spoke about other clubs that would be disrespectful, and I don’t want to do that.”
Manchester United were also one of a number of big European clubs linked with trying to sign Norwegian starlet Martin Odegaard. It now appears that the race for the 16-year-old Norwegian attacking midfielder, who became the youngest player in the history of the European Championships, has opted to join Real Madrid. Odegaard was spotted at Madrid’s match at local rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and Spanish publication AS reports that the European champions have agreed a deal worth around 4 million euros (£3.1 million) with Stromsgodest.
Yet to be resolved at Old Trafford is whether Radamel Falcao’s season-long loan from Monaco will be made permanent. It will cost a massive £43 million to do so, which has understandably made Manchester United give serious consideration to the 28-year-old’s future. Still to rediscover the devastating form he displayed prior to a serious knee injury almost exactly a year ago, Falcao has scored just three goals for United. Still, the club believe he can get back to his best, according to The Telegraph, although they aren’t ready to be pressured into making a decision by the player’s agent Jorge Mendes. That hesitation is reportedly also holding up negotiations over a new contract for another of Mendes’s clients -- De Gea.