Despite being in the midst of a hectic run of fixtures, thoughts around Manchester United continue to turn toward next month’s transfer window. Under Sir Alex Ferguson the club rarely did any major business in January, but things are set to be very different in the first mid-season window for new boss David Moyes.
Ferguson’s replacement has been open about the fact that he did not get the players he wanted in the summer and that the squad still needs much improvement. Having also revealed that he perhaps should have let some players go in the summer, it is likely to be a busy month at Old Trafford. And the chief focus is again set to be the midfield.
Big money was spent on Marouane Fellaini in the summer, but the Belgian has yet to convince that he is the man to fill a holding midfield role at United, while the former Everton man also has to undergo surgery on a wrist injury. One logical target for Moyes, should he want to further strengthen that position, would surely be FC Porto’s Fernando.
Having become an increasingly integral part of Porto’s success since being signed from Brazil in 2007, the time may now be right for him to make a move. The 26-year-old will be out of contract next summer and has just received Portuguese citizenship, meaning that United would not have to worry about attaining a work permit for the former Brazil Under-20 international.
United may have to act fast with Fernando having been linked with clubs in Italy, and specifically champions Juventus, of late. According to quotes published by the Daily Express, the player’s agent Antonio Araujo says all possibilities remain open.
“Fernando would be very happy to play in Italy,” he is reported to have said. “I cannot talk much about it. The market reopened within weeks, we'll see later. It's a situation to analyze. You can leave Portugal in January or at the end of the season”
Also desperately lacking from United’s midfield this season has been creativity. The Daily Mirror reports that one man who the Premier League champions could target to help alleviate that deficiency is Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic. The Croatia international has been a key part of Sevilla’s side for several seasons, but has watched as the rest of the club’s leading performers have been sold off.
With the club struggling for European qualification and the 25-year-old’s contract set to expire in the summer of 2015, Rakitic admits that he does not know what the future holds.
“A football player can never say with certainty that he will remain in his club," he reportedly told Slovenian website Nogomania. "Such is the nature of our business. I'm in Seville for three years now and in this time many things have changed.
"It is clear that in such a big club people cannot be satisfied with average results. If there is no success, if there are no trophies, frustration grows. Everything has changed."
The Daily Mail reports, extremely speculatively, that Manchester United’s hopes of landing Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus have been boosted by recent events. Dortmund have struggled of late in falling off the pace set by Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. With Mario Gotze having left this past summer and Robert Lewandowski set to do likewise at the end of the season, there has been talk of the Jurgen Klopp era potentially coming to an end.
If Dortmund were to drop off then Reus, who has been linked to most of Europe’s big clubs, would likely be the next star to leave the club. However, having made it through to the Champions League last 16 and with their injury crisis, which has been a huge factor in their recent slide, set to heal, talk of Dortmund’s demise has likely been greatly exaggerated. There is little prospect of Reus leaving until next summer at the earliest.
With Nemanja Vidic continuing to struggle with injuries and Rio Ferdinand’s time at the top level seemingly coming to an end, Moyes may also have an eye on procuring a central defender. The Independent reports that United could move for Roma’s Mehdi Benatia. The Morocco international only joined the Italian side in the summer, but has played a major role in their still unbeaten start to the season. The chances of the 26-year-old being transferred in January are surely somewhere between incredibly slim and none.