Time is running out for Louis van Gaal to bolster his Manchester United squad in the current transfer window. Expected to be one of the most active clubs in January as Van Gaal continues to reshape his squad, they have yet to make a major signing with just a few hours remaining before the 11 p.m. GMT deadline.
Most significantly, there has yet to be any significant progress on a deal for the man widely thought to be United’s primary target, Mats Hummels. The Borussia Dortmund center-back could be the player to aid the problems United have displayed at the back through much of Van Gaal’s first season in charge. But it’s a transfer that continues to look more likely to happen in the summer, given Dortmund are battling to stay in the Bundesliga and Hummels has repeatedly shown no indication that he will push for a move away. The Guardian’s German soccer expert Raphael Honigstein is among those that now think it is too late to get a deal done in this window.
That hasn’t stopped the Daily Express from reporting that United are planning on not only securing the services of Hummels before the deadline, but also fellow Bundesliga star Kevin de Bruyne in a £67 million late splurge. De Bruyne only left Chelsea for Wolfsburg a year ago for a fee of £7 million. He has been in fine form since, scoring five goals and adding 11 assists to his name in the Bundesliga this season. While Wolfsburg are poised to sign Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle, it would be a surprise were a deal to be done for De Bruyne in this window, with several clubs thought to be vying for his signature and Wolfsburg chasing a Champions League place.
If there is going to be some late, late action at Old Trafford it appears more than likely that it will involve a central defender. As well as Hummels, Manchester United have been linked with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos. The Sun has reported that United have turned their attentions toward the Brazilian and are pushing to get a £35 million transfer through before the deadline. Stories surfaced about United’s interest in the former Roma defender last month, when PSG reportedly quoted a ludicrous asking price of £112 million.
The 20-year-old joined the French champions 18 months ago for a fee of £30 million, but has had his appearances limited this season by the signing of David Luiz. Given that complying with Financial Fair Play is a struggle for PSG, it’s conceivable they could be tempted to do a deal. But at this late stage of the window and with his sizable potential, it’s highly unlikely.
Still, it’s a piece of speculation that surely has more credence to it than the reappearance of the seemingly endless rumor linking Manchester United with Wesley Sneijder. According to the Daily Express, United are now faced with a clear path to the Galatasaray midfielder’s signature after previous suitors Juventus turned their attention elsewhere. However, it has been reported for several weeks that Juventus were unwilling to match Galatasaray’s asking price for the 30-year-old Netherlands international. And, despite his links with Van Gaal, United’s multitude of options in Sneijder’s position mean there is little chance of a transfer mooted since 2011 finally coming to fruition.
One transfer that has gone through on Monday is United’s signing of 20-year-old Sadiq El Fitouri on an 18-month contract. The defender has been on trial with United from Salford City, the non-league side owned by former United stalwarts Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt.
There have also been a couple of long-anticipated departures. Winger Wilfried Zaha has completed his return to Crystal Palace on a permanent transfer, just 18 months after arriving from the London club. Meanwhile, Anderson has been pictured training with Internacional after undergoing a medical with the Brazilian club, reports Globo Esporte. The midfielder has continually struggled to fulfill his potential since arriving in a big-money move from Porto in 2007.