Manchester United produced arguably their finest performance of the season on Sunday to achieve what may prove to be their most important result, when beating Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield. The victory gave United a five-point cushion over fifth-place Liverpool and put them in a strong position to meet the club’s objective of a return to the Champions League. Yet it still looks set to be another busy summer in the transfer market at Old Trafford as Louis Van Gaal continues to hone his squad.
There has even been speculation that the biggest arrival of last summer could be set for a swift exit. Angel di Maria became Manchester United’s record signing when arriving from Real Madrid for a fee of £59.7 million. His first season, however, has not gone as planned. An injury and an attempted burglary of his home derailed the Argentinean after what had been a positive start to his United career, and his performances have increasingly come under scrutiny. A sending off against Arsenal in an FA Cup quarterfinal defeat only cranked up the speculation, as did Van Gaal’s decision to start with him on the bench against Liverpool.
The Daily Star is one of the publications to jump on the rumor mill, suggesting that Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Di Maria’s signature, even though the former club are forbidden from signing players until next January. It would still be a massive surprise were Di Maria and United to part company so soon after his arrival. Van Gaal has publicly backed the player, and United would have to face up to a significant loss on their investment were they to allow him to depart now.
The chances appear significantly higher that Radamel Falcao will not be turning out in United red next season. The striker was signed on a lucrative loan deal from Monaco on the final day of last summer’s transfer window, but he has managed just four goals this season and, despite an injury to Robin van Persie, currently finds himself starting matches from the bench. Earlier this month, he was even selected as one of the overage players in a Manchester United Under-21 match. Those factors make it hard to imagine United paying an agreed fee of more than £40 million to make the 29-year-old’s move permanent. He may remain in the Premier League, however. According to The Sun, Liverpool have now made an approach to secure Falcao on another loan deal from Monaco next season.
Plenty of big-name arrivals to Old Trafford have also been mooted, none more high profile than Gareth Bale and Paul Pogba. With Bale’s struggles at Real Madrid continuing, rumors of a transfer to Manchester United continue. The former Tottenham star went onto have a hugely successful first season at the Bernabeu after becoming the world’s most expensive player in 2013, but he has been targeted for sharp criticism this campaign from both the Madrid press and Real Madrid fans. After defeat in El Clásico to Barcelona on Sunday, Bale was one of the players to have his car attacked by angry Madrid supporters. And in a poll conducted by Madrid-based sports daily AS, 68.3 percent of Madrid fans who responded wanted to see Bale dropped.
There are still reasons to believe that a move to United won’t happen, however. Firstly, it would be a rare admittance of error by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, after he put so much work into and spent so much money on Bale’s signing. Meanwhile, as the Daily Mirror writes, Bale will not want to accept that his dream move to the Bernabeu has failed.
Bale’s signing would require a massive financial commitment from Manchester United as would a deal to secure Paul Pogba. The gifted, dynamic midfielder walked out of Old Trafford in 2012 having failed to break into the first team under Sir Alex Ferguson, and has since gone onto win back-to-back Serie A titles with Juventus. In doing so, the 22-year-old has established a reputation as one of best and most eagerly sought midfielders in the world. The France international’s agent Mino Raiola has regularly hinted this season that a big-money transfer could be on the cards, while Juventus have previously suggested they may be unable to resist a mammoth offer. But speaking after Juventus’ 1-0 win over Genoa on Sunday, general director Giuseppe Marotta dismissed the possibility of Pogba departing.
“Pogba is a young player with lots of promise but he is realizing his potential,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “We want to win and we don't necessarily have to sell our best players. It is clear that players of this quality attract interest from other clubs but we don't seek buyers and there has been no contact.”