The January transfer window is now coming into sharp focus, with several of the Premier League’s top clubs expected to be active in trying to boost their squads next month. Manchester United have won four Premier League games on the bounce to take a hold of the fourth and final Champions League berth, yet it would still be a surprise were Louis van Gaal not to attempt to add to the club’s record spending over the summer.
The club’s recent run of form has been made all the more impressive by a continuation of the injury problems that have blighted Van Gaal’s reign from the start. Nowhere have the difficulties been more pronounced than in defense, where the Dutch coach has had to frequently rotate his lineup from game to game -- compelled to start with youngsters and players operating out of their natural position.
The departures of veteran trio Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra over the summer continue to loom large, with only Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw arriving to strengthen the defense. At least one further addition is thought likely to be sought in the January transfer window. With the prospects slim of landing long-time rumored target Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund in midseason, strong speculation in recent days has linked United with a move for Atlético Madrid’s commanding center-back Diego Godín.
The Uruguay international was arguably the best defender in Spain last season and perhaps the finest in Europe, leading to reported interest from Bayern Munich in the summer. When asked about the possibility of Godín moving to Old Trafford for €20 million (£15.8 million), Atlético manager Diego Simeone responded dismissively.
“Let's talk about something else,” he told the media. “How much? 20? For Godín? It must be a mistake.”
According to The Daily Telegraph, however, United are willing to pay Godín’s €36 million (£28.5 million) release clause to bring him to Old Trafford. That would be a massive fee for a player who will turn 29 next February, albeit not for one whose defensive resilience, and eye for goal, helped Atlético win the Spanish title and come agonizingly close to claiming the Champions League crown last season.
Particularly after a recent knee injury suffered by Daley Blind that is expected to rule him out until the new year, Manchester United may also have an eye on recruiting a midfielder. Still, it doesn’t appear that Arturo Vidal will be moving to Old Trafford anytime soon. Talk of the Chilean signing for United became the transfer saga of the summer, but eventually ended with him staying put at Juventus. And Vidal has stated that he has no regrets about that outcome and is now fully focused on life with the Italian champions.
“I feel content and happy here,” Vidal told Chilean radio station Cooperativa, per Sky Sports. “This is my fourth year here and I feel right at home. “Things have gone really well and we are returning to play at the maximum level. I am very happy with our results.
“There are always transfer rumors but I am calm. When a transfer window is about to open there are always reports but I never think about that, I have an agent that takes care of that. I'm only thinking about Juventus. I am 100 per cent, giving my all in training in order to become one of the best.”
While the will-he-won’t-he story of Vidal to Manchester United dragged on considerably, it still has some way to go before matching the enduring tale of Wesley Sneijder’s mooted transfer to Manchester United. It was in the summer of 2011 that the Dutch playmaker was actually close to joining United before a deal collapsed late on. And every transfer window since, despite Sneijder moving to Galatasaray and United’s manager having now changed twice, the link has resurfaced.
Just weeks before the opening of the latest transfer period then, it is no surprise then that Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb has reported that United are interested in the services of the now 30-year-old Sneijder. Of course, it is a link that is now easier to make due to the presence of Sneijder’s former Netherlands coach in the United hot seat. Yet an attacking midfielder is hardly an area where United are currently most in need of strengthening.
Indeed, it appears more likely that Manchester United will ship a player out in that position next month. It was only in January this year that United made Juan Mata the club’s then record signing, but he has struggled to find a regular role under Van Gaal. Although he started and scored the winner against Stoke City on Tuesday, his position appears far from secure. A transfer away in midseason would still be a surprise, although the Daily Mirror reports that Sevilla are keen to take the 26-year-old back to Spain.