The transfer saga that has dominated the summer months at Old Trafford may finally be coming to a close, but there is little sign that Manchester United’s summer spending is similarly at an end. After months of uncertainty about the prospect of David de Gea joining Real Madrid, it appears that the goalkeeper will be staying put, at least for the time being.
Despite De Gea having just a year remaining on his contract and an apparent desire to return to the Spanish capital, United have held firm over their demands for their player of the year for the last two seasons. United wanted either a massive fee or Sergio Ramos to move in the opposite direction, but reports now suggest Real Madrid will offer neither. Indeed, according to Spanish daily Marca, Ramos will sign a new contract at the Bernabeu on Monday, while Madrid are seemingly prepared to wait for De Gea until next summer. Having been left out of United’s lineup for the opening match of the Premier League season, De Gea has been included in the club’s squad for their Champions League playoff with Club Brugge.
Still, with any hope of signing Ramos now gone, United face a scramble to get in reinforcements in the center of their defense before the transfer window closes in three weeks’ time. Rumors have immediately abounded that United have stepped up their interest in Valencia’s Nicolás Otamendi. The Argentina international has made his desire to leave the Spanish club this summer clear, amid strong links of a transfer to Old Trafford. The latest story comes from Valencia-based TV station SillasGol, which claims to have seen legal documents suggesting a deal is close. But the report has quickly been countered elsewhere, including by Sky Sports, which states that there is no interest from United in the 27-year-old.
Speaking ahead of United’s encounter with Aston Villa, Van Gaal refused to be drawn on a transfer for Otamendi or any other player.
“Our aim is always to improve the squad and when it is possible we shall do it,” he said, via Sky
Sports. “I have said more than once that we only buy when we think a player can make a contribution to our squad."
It may be that Manchester United have moved onto a new target. According to ESPN, Everton’s John Stones is now being considered to bolster a backline that had Daley Blind playing in the center against Tottenham. The highly rated 21-year-old England international has been publicly pursued by Chelsea, much to the annoyance of Everton, who are already believed to have rejected an offer of £26 million. Chelsea are thought to be ready to up their bid to £30 million, although that too is set to be knocked back.
United will hope that the animosity from Everton toward Chelsea could open the door for them to secure Stones’ signing. Van Gaal’s men could also be helped by Everton holding an interest in United center-back Johnny Evans.
Even were Manchester United to bolster the defense, it’s not expected to be the end of their spending. Van Gaal has made it clear that he wants more attacking options in his squad following the departures of Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Ángel di María this summer. Pedro is one target that has for several days looked set to arrive from Barcelona, but for the time being he remains at the Camp Nou and with his future uncertain.
Indeed, the versatile forward scored the winner for Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla on Tuesday, despite having started on the bench. He may again be involved in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Friday, although manager Luis Enrique had conceded that the player is unsettled after a lack of first-team opportunities last season.
“It is a difficult situation and a little bit contradictory because he wants to stay but he wants more minutes,” he said, according to Barcelona-based daily Sport. “I can't wait for the transfer window to close in order to know which players in can count on.”
While that saga is ongoing, Manchester United have once more been linked with a blockbuster move for another World Cup winner. Bayern Munich forward Thomas Müller, who was given his breakthrough in the Bundesliga giants’ first team during Van Gaal’s spell in charge, is again the subject of an approach from Old Trafford, according to German magazine Kicker. The publication reports that United are prepared to double the 25-year-old’s current salary, however, unsurprisingly, the story concludes by stating that Muller wants to remain at the club he has been at for 15 years.