Manchester United may have secured a club-record deal for Juan Mata, but the Premier League champions appear to still be pushing hard to fill their midfield void before the January transfer window ends on Friday. While Mata will add a touch of class going forward, since arriving at the club it is in central midfield where David Moyes identified that the squad is in most need strengthening. Despite the signing of Marouane Fellaini, that is thought to remain the case.
As Moyes always rightly feared, however, it is likely that the club’s primary targets will have to wait until the summer. Still, there has been some with Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola noncommittal on the future of their midfielder Toni Kroos. The Germany international has just 18 months to run on his current deal with the Bavarians and has rejected their initial offer of a new deal. Fuelling speculation over his future was Kroos’s reaction to being substituted in Bayern’s victory over Stuttgart on Wednesday when he threw his gloves to the floor in apparent anger. Moyes was in Germany, reportedly scouting the 24-year-old last week, and may well be alerted by Guardiola’s comments.
"He is an important player but things can move fast in football,” the former Barcelona coach said, according to Sky Sports, before Kroos’s reaction on Wednesday. “Here today, gone tomorrow."
It is still difficult to see Kroos, who would appear an integral player for Guardiola’s Bayern, departing before the transfer deadline. The more realistic solution is that the situation will be left to play out in the summer when Bayern will try to persuade him to sign a new deal, or else be forced to cash in.
It also looks set to be the summer before Manchester United can make progress in their interest in Juventus’ all-round midfielder Arturo Vidal. If there is a player who can solve United’s various midfield ailments in one fell swoop then it is surely the Chile international, who is both a fierce opponent without the ball and also makes a big contribution going forward, as illustrated by his 10 goals in 21 appearances in Serie A this season.
ESPN has reported from their sources that United have not given up on bringing Vidal to Old Trafford in January. Yet such a prospect has always appeared far-fetched, unless United come in with an extraordinary offer. Indeed, Vidal stated on Monday, not for the first time, that he would be staying with the Italian champions.
Moyes has also shown a keen interest in bringing Vidal’s midfield partner Paul Pogba back to the club he left just 18 months ago. A deal is even less probable in January, barring a preposterous bid. And United’s chances of signing the France international in the summer will be hampered by strng interest from Paris Saint-Germain and their almost limitless wealth.
While he may not have been at the top of Moyes’s list, the midfielder seemingly most likely to arrive is Porto’s Fernando. The Brazilian has just six months remaining on his contract and, according to ESPN, United believe they can persuade Porto to do a deal. The 26-year-old, as his nickname “Octopus” indicates, would bring some much-needed defensive qualities and dynamism to United’s midfield. His prospects of getting a move to England have been increased with him recently becoming a Portuguese citizen and thus not having to worry about gaining a work permit. However, there is believed to be strong interest in Fernando from United’s local rivals Manchester City.