Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos have been linked with transfers to Manchester United in recent times. Reuters

Manchester United look set to be one of the more active Premier League clubs in the imminent January transfer window, but their plans are unlikely to include Real Madrid star Gareth Bale. Louis van Gaal’s men have been linked with increasing vigor in recent weeks with a big-money move for the Welsh forward, who became the world’s most expensive player when he moved to the Spanish giants from Tottenham in the summer of 2013. United were interested but missed out on Bale then, although Van Gaal recently declined to rule out another approach.

Given Madrid’s investment in the player and the fact that, while not always fitting seamlessly into the team, he has scored plenty of goals, including in the finals of the Champions League, Copa del Rey and Club World Cup, it always appeared unlikely that that they would be eager sellers. And president Florentino Perez has now insisted that the 25-year-old is integral to the club’s plans, and that, furthermore, no bid has reached them from Old Trafford.

“We haven't received an offer from Manchester United or from any other club for Bale,” he said, reports Madrid-based sports daily Marca. “We haven't received any offers for one simple reason: every club knows that Gareth Bale will never leave Real Madrid and that the club will not discuss their star, no matter how much is offered.

“Bale is a key player. He has already done so much for the team and is a key part of our club's future. Just as I can't imagine Real Madrid without Cristiano [Ronaldo], I can't imagine Real Madrid without Bale, either.”

Even more surprising than the links to Bale, is a report from the Daily Star that Manchester United are pursuing the signing of his current Real Madrid teammate, Sergio Ramos. The Spain international defender is an integral part of the Madrid side, scoring key goals as well as impressing at the back. There appears little to no chance then of United prizing him away from the Bernabeu, even if they do, as the Star states, offer him a weekly wage of £105,000, after tax.

Manchester United could certainly do with an extra defender, having been unable to field a consistent lineup at the back throughout the first half of Van Gaal’s opening campaign at Old Trafford. With Rafael rarely fit, winger Antonio Valencia has regularly been called into duty as a right wing-back or even right-back. There has been speculation in recent days that Van Gaal is seeking an upgrade in the position in the form of Everton’s Seamus Coleman. One of the Premier League’s best attacking full-backs in recent seasons, it is easy to see why Van Gaal would see the Republic of Ireland international as a worthy transfer target. However, Everton manager Roberto Martinez, unsurprisingly in no way planning on losing Coleman, says he has heard nothing of United’s reported interest in a £25 million deal.

“Not at all, no,” he said, according to ESPN. “For me, it's nothing to comment on. I haven't seen that. I've no recollection of that. As you can imagine, what we want at the club is to build something to make us stronger, and the last thing we want is to lose important players.”

Finally, it appears that Manchester United have purchased their ticket for the ongoing Martin Odegaard sweepstakes. The 16-year-old Norwegian midfielder, who became the youngest player in the history of the European Championships recently, has toured around several of Europe’s biggest clubs as he weighs up where to take his much-hyped talents. According to the Daily Mail, this week Odegaard will take in training with both Manchester United and Manchester City.