Speculation about Manchester United’s search for midfielders continues to dominate the gossip pages, with David Moyes set to have major funds to overhaul his ailing squad this summer. While every area of the squad arguably requires strengthening, it is midfield that Moyes has long since identified as being the prime area of weakness.
The club were linked with several high-profile targets in the January transfer window, but the suspicion was always that they would not be available to the summer. One name who comes into the equation is Toni Kroos. United are believed to have a keen interest in the Bayern Munich man, with their hopes of getting him fuelled by the fact that he has yet to agree an extension to his contract that expires in the summer of 2015.
Kroos gave another shining example of his ability with a majestic performance and a goal to match against Arsenal on Wednesday evening. Moyes was in attendance at the Emirates Stadium and would doubtless have been impressed with what he witnessed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola explained afterward that he expects the player to be staying in Munich for some time to come.
“He played on a very, very high level,” Guardiola said of the 24-year-old’s performance, according to Sky Sports. “That was real Champions League level. We all want him to prolong, and he also wants that, I am very positive about it. The club, we all want that.”
Manchester United strongly pursued one of Kroos’s current midfield colleagues Thiago Alcantara last summer before the Spain international eventually left Barcelona for Bayern. Now, according to the Daily Mirror, United are interested in Thiago’s bother, Rafinha. The 21-year-old is currently impressing on a season-long loan at Celta Vigo, where he has scored three goals and contributed four assists in 23 La Liga appearances.
It increasingly appears that one of Moyes’s top targets is Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho. According to reports, the 21-year-old has been watched on eight occasions by United’s scouts. The Daily Mirror now asserts that United are clear to secure Carvalho’s signing with Sporting having already lined up his replacement.
The stumbling block comes with Sporting thought to be intent on having any buyer match the player’s £37.5 million release clause -- a fee United would unsurprisingly be unwilling to pay. There could also be competition from Real Madrid and Barcelona.
During January, Manchester United were one of the many clubs linked with Internzionale’s Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin. Chelsea were also credited with an interest, while only pressure from Inter fans prevented him joining Juventus in a swap deal with Mirko Vucinic. Talksport seems to think that United’s interest in Guarin remains, although their advances could come to nothing with Inter now ready to offer the 27-year-old a contract extension.
Another item almost certain to be on the agenda for Moyes in the summer is a new left-back. While there has yet to be any confirmation, it looks increasingly likely that Patrice Evra will join Nemanja Vidic in leaving Old Trafford when his contract expires this summer. With Leighton Baines having signed a new contract at Everton, Moyes’s first-choice to replace Evra would now appear to be Southampton’s Luke Shaw.
According to ESPN sources, an offer of £22.5 million was made for the 18-year-old last month and “remains on the table.” Southampton had made it clear that none of their leading lights would be sold in January, however United are believed to have informed them that their interest remains. Not only will United have to convince Southampton to sell, but they will also have to fight off competition from Chelsea -- the team for which Shaw has confessed to being a life-long fan.