The players Manchester United could sign for a bargain in January

Manchester Evening News Sports 2 months ago

Manchester United are staring at the likelihood of having to do business in January.

It's not a market that many top clubs around Europe like to delve into, usually due to a lack of quality options and the premium price that is necessary to prise players away from their current sides. United have not signed a player in January since Alexis Sanchez arrived in 2018 in that disastrous swap with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

So United — whose squad desperately needs bolstering in the winter window — must be canny and buy smart.

Who are the players they could sign, who'd be available without spending an extortionate amount? Who would be worth a gamble in the trickiest of transfer windows?

Christian Eriksen

Tottenham were ready to sell Eriksen in the summer, amid interest from United, though the player preferred a move to Real Madrid that never materialised.

It means the Dane — who's not been at his best for Spurs this season, amid speculation about him being unsettled  — would be available at a much cheaper price than the £60million to £70million that was believed to be his summer value. Whether United take another January gamble on a player who's best years may be behind him, remains to be seen.

There can be no doubting Eriksen's quality, at his best though. And at 27 and a transfer fee in the £40million region, or lower, he's a tempting prospect.


Blaise Matuidi

The Frenchman is now 32 and looks set to leave Juventus in the summer upon the expiry of his contract, if not before.

He was linked with United in the summer, but said in a recent interview he never considered leaving Juve, despite seeing the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot arrive in his position.

Matuidi has fended off some of the competition for his spot so far this term in Serie A, but he's unlikely to be offered a new contract by the Old Lady and could plug a gap in the United midfield for a bargain transfer fee in January.

Dries Mertens

The Napoli and Belgium forward is holding off on signing a new contract in Italy, contrary to the desires of his club.

He's now 32 and most likely with his better days behind him, but Mertens is a proven goal scorer and a forward who can play in a number of positions. He's been linked to United in the past and would be available in January — with just six months left on his Napoli deal — for something in the £15million region.

Ryan Fraser

Fraser, who was heavily linked with Arsenal in the summer, could be that rarest of things; a player at the peak of his powers whose contract situation could allow a cut-price January bid.

Although his club Bournemouth have restated their confidence that the 25-year-old will agree new terms very soon, Fraser is yet to put pen to paper and therefore a January move to United isn't out of the question. He may even be available for less than £25million, which would be seriously good value for a proven Premier League forward.

Raphael Guerreiro

Guerreiro is most comfortable in the full-back positions, which won't be regarded as a priority for United in January — although they could certainly use some quality cover. The Portuguese star, 25, also has the benefit of versatility and can play further forward in wide positions, or even as a central midfielder.

Borussia Dortmund continue to be frustrated in their efforts to tie Guerreiro down on a bumper new contract, as his current deal expires in June next year.

And as long as that situation continues, a club like United could pounce with a cut-price January offer.

Mario Mandzukic

Another ageing Juventus player who will surely be angling for a January move, after coming close to joining United in the summer.

Mandzukic is actually contracted to the Italian club until June 2021, but would still be available for a cut-price, having not played a single minute for the club this season — he was also left out of their 22-man Champions League squad. 

Not the ideal transfer target given Mandukic's age (33) but they're severely lacking in forwards and will need to boost their striking ranks in some way.

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