Manchester United are reportedly focusing much of their attention on Portugal as they plan to significantly overhaul their squad this summer. The club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward recently revealed that there is likely to more changes to the squad than usual in the coming close season in order to avoid any repeat of what has been a dismal first season under David Moyes.
It appears that many of their targets are currently plying their trade in Portugal. The Guardian is the latest source to report that United are monitoring Porto’s central defender Eliaquim Mangala. The highly rated France international was close to joining Manchester City on the final day of the January transfer window, but City reportedly balked at Porto’s asking price.
It is thought that City will make a fresh approach in the summer, while Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked. Given the reputation of Porto as tough negotiators, United will face a real battle to land the 23-year-old.
With Nemanja Vidic leaving when his contract expires at the end of the season, a central defender is likely to be on United’s agenda despite Moyes’s assertion that Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are capable of replacing the Serbian stalwart.
Manchester United’s interest in Portugal also stretches to young Sporting Lisbon duo Carlos Mane and William Carvalho. It is not the first time that United have been linked to either player. Citing stories in Portugal, Sky Sports reports that United scouts were in attendance for Sporting’s clash with Olhanense at the weekend, when Mane scored the only goal. The strike was the Portugal Under-19 international’s first goal for Sporting, with the winger having broken into the first team this season.
Again, though, United are set to face strong competition for the player’s services. Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham are all credited with an interest, while clubs in both the Bundesliga and Serie A are said to be more advanced in their pursuits.
While keeping a check on Mane, it is thought that United’s main target at Sporting is midfielder William Carvalho. Talksport claims that United have now watched the 21-year-old in action 12 times this season. However, it is said that he would cost in excess of £30 million. Carvalho made his debut for Portugal in the first leg of their World Cup playoff victory over Sweden last November.
Manchester United’s list of midfield targets is doubtless lengthy and is also believed to include Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan. After a fine campaign last term, the Germany international has been absent since the opening day of the Bundesliga season with a back injury. Interest in him remains high, though, especially with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2015.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been strongly linked, but the Daily Mirror suggests that United could be given a helping hand by the fact that Dortmund have a strong interest in bringing Shinji Kagawa back to the Westfalenstadion. Kagawa, who signed from Dortmund in the summer of 2012, has fallen even further out of favor with Moyes since the January signing of Juan Mata. United are also thought to be keen on Gundogan’s teammate Marco Reus, although the prospects of landing the attacking midfielder look slim.