Just days after the transfer deadline, Manchester United are reportedly already making plans to ensure that the blunders that plagued them throughout the summer are not repeated when January rolls around. The Guardian has reported that manager David Moyes is set to meet with vice-chairman Ed Woodward to formulate a list of targets when the transfer window reopens.
The Premier League champions were able to secure Marouane Fellaini on transfer deadline day, but even that came with a heavy slice of embarrassment. The Everton midfielder had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for around £23 million until the end of July. He would end up going to Old Trafford for £27.5 million. That came after an unusually public pursuit of Cesc Fabregas that seemingly only those in the corridors of power at Old Trafford believed would bear fruit.
Perhaps the most farcical episode, though, was the failed attempt to pry Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. United left it until perilously late to pursue their interest in the Spanish midfielder and then wasted precious time haggling over his €36 million (£30.4m) release clause. It is baffling how United didn’t realize that Athletic have a history of only selling players they don’t want to leave for their buy-out clauses because of their remit of only pickling Basque players.
It also would have taken someone with just a passing knowledge of the vagaries of the Spanish transfer market to know that there are heavy legal implications even when the clause is met. It was claimed that three men that turned up at the Spanish Football Federation late in the day were imposters, when in fact it has emerged that they were sent on United’s behalf.
The Daily Mirror claims that, after their bungling, United have promised Herrera that they will return to sign him in January. However, Herrera has now stated that the move never even got as far as him speaking with United.
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“Athletic made it clear that the only option would have been to pay my buy-out clause, and if they did not, they wouldn't be able to sign me,” he said, according to Spanish sports daily AS. “It's completely false that United and I reached a deal. I never came to any agreement with United.
“I knew that they were going to make an offer a day before they did, but they knew very well they had to pay the buy-out clause first, and then try and convince me to join. It would be logical for them to make a deal with me before paying the clause, but that's not what happened.
“I'm flattered. It means that this club is doing well, that it has highly valued players. It means I must also be doing a good job.
“I can't talk about a hypothetical situation, I was certain all the time that they weren't going to pay it,” he answered in response to whether he would have gone to United.
The Daily Mail claims that Manchester United will also make another attempt to land Leighton Baines in January. United submitted both individual and joint bids, including Fellaini, for the left-back but had each rejected by Everton. It seems unlikely that Everton’s stance will soften in midseason, while Baines will have turned 29 by that point and his age will surely make a big outlay even less prudent.
Yet another story of a failed United target has emerged, with Galatasaray claiming that an approach was made for Wesley Sniejder. Links with the Dutch attacking midfielder are nothing new, with the former Inter Milan man being close to a move to Old Trafford two years ago. It would be strange for that interest to be revived now, given that the 29-year-old having just moved to Turkey in January and the fact that United now have Shinji Kagawa.
“Sneijder received an indirect offer from Manchester United two weeks ago but it was not accepted,” sporting director Bulent Tulun said, reports Sky Sports. "There are several clubs that want him but just like we can't let go of Burak [Yilmaz], we also have to keep hold of Sneijder."
Meanwhile, United may take an interest in Cristiano Ronaldo’s dissenting comments about Real Madrid’s sale of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal. United remain keen to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford with the Portuguese yet to sign a new contract at Madrid and reportedly unsettled at the club. According to AS, Ronaldo’s Portugal teammates have claimed that he is “angry” about the departure of someone who he enjoyed a positive relationship with on the pitch.