Manchester United have confirmed what had become increasingly inevitable since Sir Alex Ferguson revealed his decision to retire on Wednesday when David Moyes was revealed as the man who will become the first new manager at Old Trafford in 26 years.
Although officially taking over on July 1 following his departure from Everton, Moyes’s work is likely to begin as soon as the season ends. It is an unenviable task for anyone to replace a man who has enjoyed a glory-laden 26-year reign, but Moyes will enjoy little in the way of a honeymoon period.
The Scot will want and need to put his stamp on the squad right from the off. And while part of that undertaking will consist of making his mark on the players currently in the Old Trafford dressing room, Moyes will also want to assert himself by bringing in some fresh faces.
Often forced to operate on a strict budget at Everton, Moyes will be given much greater financial clout at United. He will, however, be under huge pressure to spend the money wisely.
Here are four players that Moyes could target this summer.
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Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) Speculation linking the Portuguese star with a return to Old Trafford has swirled since he claimed to be unhappy for unspecified reasons at Real Madrid last September. There have been reports that United were putting together a financial package with help from sponsors to bring Ronaldo back to the club he left in a record £80 million deal in 2009.
Much of the thinking behind Ronaldo purportedly being keen on rejoining United was based on his still close relationship with Ferguson. Without the man Ronaldo has described as a father figure, the chances of United being able to secure his signing appear significantly weakened.
Leighton Baines (Everton) It is often the case that a new manager’s first place to look for signings is at his old dressing room. If Moyes is to follow that trend then left-back Baines looks by far the likeliest of his former charges to join him at Old Trafford.
Ferguson is believed to have targeted Baines as a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra last summer but was deterred by Everton’s asking price. Although Evra has enjoyed a return to form this campaign, Moyes could well see Baines, 28, as an upgrade, while also securing a player familiar and responsive to his methods.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund) In the midst of the flood of reports over Ferguson’s retirement and speculation over his successor, it has also been revealed that Wayne Rooney has recently had a transfer request turned down. That is unlikely to be the end of the matter, though, and Moyes will likely face a real challenge if he decides to try and persuade his former charge at Everton to stay at Old Trafford.
If Rooney, or indeed one of United’s other quartet of forwards does leave, then Poland international Lewandowski could well be the man Moyes targets. The Dortmund striker has been linked to United for some time and he also fits the bill for the type of target man that Moyes has deployed throughout his time at Everton.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) There are few, if any, managers in the world who would not welcome Bale into their squad. The electric Welshman has stepped up his game another level this season and the number of jaw-dropping late winners he has scored for Tottenham over the course of the campaign almost defies belief.
While Bale has been talked of strongly in connection with a move to Real Madrid, United are also believed to have long carried an interest. That is unlikely to be diminished with Moyes in charge. The prospects of Bale leaving appear to be increasing with Tottenham struggling to attain a Champions League place and, while it would still take an enormous transfer fee, the 23-year-old would be a signing to get fans excited about the post-Ferguson era at Old Trafford.
Marouane Fellaini (Everton) While Baines is the likeliest player to make the trip with Moyes from Goodison Park, Belgium international Fellaini could be another target. The 25-year-old, who has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford in the past, has suggested that he will look to move to a bigger club at the end of the current campaign.
Moyes will be well aware of Fellaini’s abilities and may well see him as the man to add some physicality to Manchester United’s midfield and compliment the playmaking skills currently at the club.