Manchester United will be looking to make it three successive wins and continue their recent upturn in form when they visit West Brom next Monday. After a difficult start to Louis van Gaal’s reign, United have beaten West Ham and Everton as the club’s numerous summer signings have started to produce the desired impact. Yet given the scale of the rebuilding job faced by the veteran Dutch coach when he took charge and how long it took for the wheels to properly get in motion this summer, further transfer activity is unlikely to be far away.
Much of the club’s transfer market business in the near future could well involve further strengthening their defense. If reports are to believed, those plans include Dani Alves. The Brazil international stated in a recent interview that he will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of this season, with the Premier League his chosen destination. The 31-year-old’s agent has now further suggested that his exit is on the cards.
“If Barcelona wanted to renew Alves' contract, they would have done it,” Dinorah Santana told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta confirmed that there have been no talks, but did imply that the club’s ban on signing players until January 2016 could impact any decision over the right-back’s future.
“We've done nothing in that respect,” he told Spanish publication AS, per the Daily Mail. “We're talking about the contract with him. We'll see what the road is we'll take. It's also influenced by the decision of FIFA [on the transfer ban]. The best thing is that we come to see an incisive Dani, that's important.”
Alves may be useful as an alternative to Rafael, while his ability going forward means he could be ideal if Van Gaal reverts to his three-center-back formation. The real priority, though, likely lies in strengthening Manchester United’s options at center-back. Following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and injuries to Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, Van Gaal has been compelled to deploy youngsters Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett at the start of the season.
Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar, who excelled for Van Gaal with the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup, continues to be viewed by many as a possible option. The 29-year-old will be a free agent next summer, although it is believed that Villa are now working hard to persuade him to extend his stay. That could be difficult, though, with the Daily Star reporting that Villa will have to double Vlaar’s current wages if they are to keep him. Meanwhile, it is reported that Van Gaal could push to get a cut-price transfer done in January, with £4 million thought likely to be sufficient.
It was expected, too, that Manchester United would have further bolstered their central midfield in the last transfer window. Although the versatile Daley Blind arrived, a long pursuit of Juventus’ Arturo Vidal ended empty handed. Still, various rumors have floated the thought that United will rekindle their interest in the all-action 27-year-old. After the Chile international was disciplined for a late night out in the run up to a key Serie A fixture recently, it was reported that Juventus would also now be open to the idea of selling. According to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, Juventus could be further encouraged to do business should United include Juan Mata as part of a deal. Despite becoming the club’s then record signing when he arrived in January, Mata found himself out of the United side following the arrival of Radamel Falcao.