Manchester United manager David Moyes has attempted to dampen expectations that the club will atone for their disappointing summer transfer window with a flurry of activity in January. His comments come, despite continued rumors of plans already being made to improve the squad.
The Premier League champions have had a difficult start to life under Moyes, although a much-needed win over Sunderland on Saturday lifted them up into the top half of the table. Much of the problems have been ascribed to United’s failure to add more than solitary major signing Marouane Fellaini to the squad over the summer. It is believed that the club accepts that they blundered, yet Moyes has suggested that January may not be the time to correct any failings.
“ll look at January but I wouldn't want people to have big expectations of what we would sign or do," Moyes said, according to Sky Sports. "In the main, January has not been a great month to sign at the top level.
"If you're in trouble near the bottom you might as you're desperate for something but we'll be looking for the top players. Undoubtedly we will, in time, try and make the squad better -- the job is to make progress at Manchester United.”
One of the most ignominious episodes of United’s summer involved a blundered effort to try and secure midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. The club left it until the very last embers of the transfer window to make a move for the 24-year-old, but haggled over paying his €36 million (£30.4m) release clause, before reports that they had agreed to meet it but had left it too late -- a fact United deny.
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The Independent recently reported that United still have doubts about paying Herrera’s release clause, something which Bilbao continue to suggest will need to happen for the player to leave.
“Ander has a contract until 2016 and the matter of whether he will leave is an issue that is now closed,” president Josu Urrutia said, according to the Daily Mirror. Manchester United also face being rebuked should they choose to pursue their long-standing interest in Luka Modric. The club have been linked to the Croatian playmaker for more than two years and were believed to have made tentative inquiries with Real Madrid this summer. After a disappointing first season in La Liga, it was thought by many that Modric could be surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu.
However, in the absence of the injured Xabi Alonso, the 28-year-old has featured in every one of the club’s fixtures this season. And he has now spoken of his desire to stay with Madrid for the long term.
“I never doubted that the best thing that ever happened to me in football is to play in Madrid,” he said in an interview with Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti.
“Besides being a great club, my family feels amazing in Madrid. In football it is difficult to plan, but if you ask me, I would like to retire in Madrid -- with trophies, of course. I don’t want to go another season without a title. “
Of course, while United finally secured the signing of Fellaini on transfer deadline day, they missed out on capturing his former Everton teammate Leighton Baines. The Daily Mail believes that United remain keen to sign the England left-back and will return with an offer of £15 million plus winger Antonio Valencia in January.
Yet, given that Baines will turn 29 in December and that Valencia arrived at Old Trafford for a fee of £16 million four years ago, such an offer would be hard to fathom from United’s point of view. The Mail also claims that Baines is now interesting Tottenham.
While attention has focused on potential arrivals to Old Trafford, Manchester United will now also be expending plenty of energy to ensure that a new potential star is not soon heading out of the club. Although his quality has been known for some time, Adnan Januzaj announced himself on the Premier League stage with a superb match-winning two-goal performance against Sunderland at the weekend.
With the 18-year-old’s talent now a secret to no-one in the game, United are understandably anxious about the fact that his contract is set to expire next year. A similar scenario saw another highly talented teenager, Paul Pogba, leave on a free transfer to Juventus in the summer of 2012.
Januzaj’s agent, Dirk de Vriese, recently revealed that several clubs are interested in the player, with negotiations with United having been halted when Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager.
"I'm not going to say which teams are interested in him, but I can tell you that there is interest from several European clubs," he told Voetbal Nieuws, according to The Guardian. "The departure of Sir Alex Ferguson meant that there was a break in the negotiations. We are back working on the calls and will see how it goes. Adnan's family have given me the permission to communicate. As it is only me involved, there can be no misunderstandings in the media."