A 2-2 draw with West Brom on Monday means Manchester United remain without an away win under new manager Louis van Gaal and still searching for critical balance to the team. Although a furry of summer transfers have made United a consistent threat in attack, without the ball the team remains far from solid. There continue to be plenty of rumors that Van Gaal will look to address the problem in the January transfer window.
The center of defense, where departed veterans Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand weren’t adequately replaced over the summer, will surely be a priority. Indeed, United have this week been linked to two Germany internationals in that position. Speculation suggestion that Manchester United are monitoring Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels is nothing new, with the World Cup winner even coming out to state last month that his head had not been turned by the interest of the Premier League giants and that he remained happy at and committed to Dortmund. That hasn’t stopped the Daily Mail from reporting that United will vie with Arsenal to secure a £32 million transfer for the 24-year-old in January. According to the tabloid, it will be a matter of which club can offer Hummels the better financial package that could secure his signature.
While Hummels and Dortmund have endured disappointing starts to the season, there remains little chance of them parting ways midway through the season. Dortmund have no imperative to sell, and it would be a dramatic turnaround for Hummels to leave now.
Also reportedly on Manchester United’s radar is Antonio Rüdiger. The 21-year-old Stuttgart center-back made his competitive debut for Germany in this month’s Euro 2016 qualifiers playing at right-back. Sky Sports believes that United, along with Chelsea, Porto and Monaco are all monitoring his progress with interest. Stuttgart manager Armin Veh concedes that it is only a matter of time before the starlet moves on, but will only sanction a sale to a major club.
“Antonio is under contract until June 2017 with our club,” he told Bild. “The thing is, how much longer can we keep hold of such a player? He is willing to learn, has power and self-confidence and the willpower he needs to succeed. I understand that big clubs are chasing him. But a move will only be considered for Antonio if he joins a really big outfit. Otherwise, it would be better for him to stay at our club.”
With Danny Blind looking overworked again as the sole defensively minded midfielder against West Brom, Van Gaal may also look to add more bite to his midfield. During the summer, United were constantly linked with a move for Juventus all-round midfielder Arturo Vidal. That speculation has continued, fuelled recently by reports that Vidal had been fined by the Italian champions for a late night out in the buildup to a crunch game with Roma, for which the Chile international started on the bench. But the 27-year-old has denied that he was fined or that there has been any fracturing of the relationship between him and Juventus.
“My relationship with everybody at Juve is very good,” he said on Twitter. “My teammates, the coaching staff and the club have confidence in me, and I in them. The club have never fined me. Reports about this are incorrect and, in many cases, ill-intentioned. I hope these comments have informed everybody. Those who have bad intentions will continue to spread false stories, but I can't do anything to avoid that.”
The words have been even more emphatic regarding the future of another man long linked to Manchester United -- Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the current world player of the year signing a new lucrative five-year contract last year, it was strongly reported in Britain that United were drawing up plans to finance his return to Old Trafford. Yet, while he has continued to declare his affection for a club he played with for six years before leaving in 2009, Ronaldo stated his intention to remain at the Bernabeu. And his current manager Carlo Ancelotti has now claimed he expects the Portuguese star to retire a Real Madrid player.
“Ronaldo will go to the end of his career at Real Madrid,” he told The Sun. “I'm 100 percent certain he will be here next season not at Manchester United -- 100 percent. He's happy here, he's loved here by everyone. It's a perfect relationship at this moment so I don't think it will change. Ronaldo will finish his career here.”