Manchester United may have reported a drop in revenue on Thursday, but it is unlikely to dampen their plans to bolster Louis van Gaal’s squad in the transfer market this summer. United’s revenues for the three months to Dec. 21, 2014, were 14 percent down from the same stage last year, on the back of the club’s absence from the Champions League this term. Van Gaal’s side remain on track for a return to Europe’s premier competition next season, but there are continued signs that the squad remains short of what’s required to return to a global power.
Van Gaal has faced growing criticism this week for the continued failure of his team’s performances to match the largely positive results. After a 3-1 win over Burnley on Wednesday, even he admitted that he didn’t like the performance. It was a surprise to many that the club failed to make a significant signing in the January transfer window. But United’s ownership has shown a far greater willingness in the past 18 months to spend big to attract the world’s big-name players, and that looks set to continue in the summer.
It appears, though, that it will take a massive sum to attract one often suggested target, Marco Reus. The Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder has been repeatedly linked with United, as well as several of Europe’s top clubs. And the imminent activation this summer of a buy-out clause worth just 25 million euros (£18.5 million), meant a player who scored 23 goals and added 17 assists last season looked set to be available for a bargain price.
Those hopes were dashed earlier this week, when the Germany international surprisingly signed a new long-term contract with the Bundesliga strugglers, removing the release clause. Despite that, the Daily Star has reported that United could still bring Reus to Old Trafford this summer, if they are prepared to pay £50 million. That prospect appears unlikely, however, and Reus looks set to remain in Dortmund for the foreseeable future.
It would be a surprise were Manchester United’s attack not to be given a revamp at the end of the season. Radamel Falcao is struggling to convince United that he is worth the huge fee it would cost to make his loan move from Monaco permanent, while Robin van Persie remains a shadow of the player who made such an impact when he first arrived at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, there is increasing talk that Palermo’s Paulo Dybala will be the subject of a concerted pursuit this summer.
The 21-year-old Argentinean is enjoying a breakout season, scoring 11 goals to date in Italy’s Serie A. Dybala’s representatives appear eager to cash in on that form, much to the anguish of Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini, who is now resigned to losing him in the next transfer window. But United will face strong competition for his services.
“I will sell him, I am almost certain of this,” Zamparini told Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport, per Sky Sports. “[Juventus general director Giuseppe] Marotta told me that they are very interested in the player. They [Juve] are ready to negotiate. I have warned Marotta already that I've had so many offers for Dybala from half of the teams in Europe. Chelsea, PSG and other English and Spanish clubs.”
Dybala will cost a lofty fee, as will be the case to an even greater extent if Paul Pogba leaves Juventus this summer. The 21-year-old, who left Old Trafford in 2012, is continuing to improve at an greater rate with the Italian champions, and is already a contender for the tag of the world’s most complete midfielder. Interest in him is understandably high, fueled by his agent, Mino Raiola, continuing to talk up the prospect of a move, although only for a mammoth amount.
“He wants to make his mark on football history and he is already doing that,” Raiola told Telefoot, according to the Daily Mail. “Not a single player at the age of 21 has shown the world what he can do: lead a team in the palm of his hand. Pogba, he has done it already. His future? He could join any team.
“If the right time comes this summer, then it will happen. If it is not the right time, he could stay for another year or two. He will beat the transfer record. If there is one Mona Lisa in the world, and she is for sale, it will be a record price.”