Three weeks on and suddenly Manchester United’s activity on the final day of the transfer window doesn’t look nearly as troublesome. At the time, the club earned plenty of criticism for the decision to make Anthony Martial the most expensive teenager in history as well as the dramatic falling through of David de Gea’s move to Real Madrid. Both players, though, showed their value when playing integral roles in United’s victory over Southampton on Sunday.
Thus it could well be that United enter January’s transfer window with a greater degree of confidence and with less need to make major alterations to Louis van Gaal’s squad. Still, latest reports suggest that an unforeseen event could prompt the Premier League giants into action.
After a strong start to the season, Luke Shaw is set to be out of action for a long time following the double fracture of his right leg suffered against PSV Eindhoven last week. While Van Gaal initially estimated a six-month recovery period, it would be something of a surprise were the England international to return before the end of this season.
According to The Sun, United are targeting West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell as a £15 million replacement. In his first campaign in England’s top flight following a transfer from Ipswich Town, the 25-year-old was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League last season, with his delivery into the box particularly catching the eye. Certainly it would be easy to imagine top clubs keeping a keen eye on him, even if West Ham will doubtless be loathed to part with the Liverpool-born defender.
He is not the only left-back said to be under consideration at Old Trafford. The Daily Star has reported that Van Gaal sent scouts to monitor Leeds United’s 22-year-old Charlie Taylor. The former England Under-19 international has made an impressive start to his second full season in the first team of Championship side Leeds, garnering widespread acclaim and glowing praise from manager Uwe Rosler. It would, though, be asking a lot for Taylor to be thrust into the Manchester United squad midway through the season.
And it may well be that Van Gaal feels he has sufficient cover for Shaw for the time being. Although Daley Blind has been used as a center-back this season and Marcos Rojo has been out of favor, both have plenty of experience playing at left-back. The same is true for summer signing Matteo Darmian, who could potentially move over from the right, with Antonio Valencia taking his place.
As well as potential replacements for Shaw, Manchester United scouts have also been busy checking out young Dutch center-back Jerry St. Juste, according to the Daily Mail. The 18-year-old only made his senior debut for Heerenveen in January, but has been a regular fixture in the Eredivisie side’s lineup this season.
The most sensational story of the week, though, sees Manchester United again linked with a move to bring former hero Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford. The Daily Mirror is one of the outlets to report that the Portuguese star would consider leaving Real Madrid next summer and that United will make a strong attempt to secure his signature. It is claimed that Madrid would want £90 million for the three-time Ballon d’Or winner, although Ronaldo’s camp believe £70 million is more realistic. Yet, rather than United, it is thought to be Paris Saint-Germain who are leading the chase for the 30-year-old.
It is certainly possible to envisage Ronaldo moving next summer. He will at that stage have just two years left on his contract, and will almost certainly have become Real Madrid’s all-time leading scorer to complete his list of achievements at the 10-time European champions. He may, though, take some convincing to return to a club where he is already a legend.