With the arrival of Louis van Gaal leading to a rethink in Manchester United’s transfer targets, the club is still waiting to kick-start its much-anticipated summer overhaul of its squad. Van Gaal is thought to have vetoed several of the deals that had been worked on under predecessor David Moyes, including midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos.
It is a central midfield where United have long been most in need of strengthening and it is a position that looks to be a priority for Van Gaal, who will officially take over after leading the Netherlands at the World Cup. According to The Observer, while Van Gaal doesn’t share Moyes’s liking for Fabregas and Kroos, the situation is less clear about United’s long-standing interest in bringing their former midfielder Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.
Pogba walked out on United two years ago when, disillusioned with the pace at which he was being blooded into the first team, he left for Juventus on a free transfer. He has since gone onto become one of Europe’s best midfielders, and, still aged only 21, will be a key part of France’s World Cup squad this summer. A reported asking price then of £60 million should be of little surprise, although it could scupper hopes of a deal.
The Observer is also among the sources that believes Van Gaal is keen to sign Roma’s Kevin Strootman. The 24-year-old was made Netherlands captain for a couple of internationals under Van Gaal, but a serious knee injury has ruled him out of the World Cup. With Strootman also set to miss the start of next season, a transfer in January or even next summer could be more likely, if they can persuade Roma to part with a player who was key to their record-breaking start to the last Serie A campaign.
Another player who Van Gaal has worked with previously to be linked with a transfer to Manchester United is Thomas Muller. Van Gaal gave the versatile attacking midfielder his breakthrough when in charge of Bayern, but he enjoyed less of an integral role in the team under Pep Guardiola last season and has now expressed his uncertainty over the situation.
“I have reached the point where I want to know if I am an essential component of the Bayern Munich first XI for the new season and if the club has plans for me over the coming years,” he told German publication Stern, reports Sky Sports. “That's why I will be out to have a meeting.
"I am not the type of guy that says, 'Alright, I have played a good part and will keep my mouth shut and everyone else is able to do with me whatever he wants.’ As a Munich-boy your test at Bayern Munich is always a bit tougher, but we [those players graduated from the youth academy] are the grassroots of this club!”
The situation is more pessimistic for United regarding their reported interest in another Germany international. An injury on the eve of the World Cup means that Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus won't be able to showcase the takent that has seen him suggested as a target under both Moyes and Van Gaal. With Dortmund having already lost Robert Lewandowski, a departure of another major player always looked a long shot and Dortmund have now insisted that Reus won’t be going anywhere for the time being.
“I can definitely rule out Marco changing clubs this summer,” sporting director Michael Zorc was quoted as saying by Bild.
Catalan publication Sport believes Barcelona have been keenly pursuing a deal. Reports in Spain have also suggested that Manchester United are looking into the prospect of a transfer for Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba. Teenage left-back Luke Shaw looked set to be United’s first signing of the summer, but an opening bid of £27 million was rejected by Southampton, who have now claimed no players will leave at least until a new manager is appointed. Shaw would still appear a far likelier signing than Alba, who it is difficult to envisage being made available, despite the expected upheaval at Barcelona this summer.