Man United transfers: Five players Louis van Gaal should target
Dimitri Kondonis takes a look at five players Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal should target this summer
The combative French international midfielder has drawn admiring glances from the top four sides ever since Southampton made their triumphant return to the Premier League. The south coast outfit prevented the 25-year-old from leaving last season as they’d already lost crucial members of their team, but with a move to United rumoured to be virtually complete, the Saints are set to lose him this summer. Schneiderlin will bring energy and more robustness to United’s midfield that they have been lacking with Carrick, and he is a more tidy player than Belgium’s Marouane Fellaini. And at a fee rumoured to be around £20m, the Red Devils are hardly breaking the bank for a player set to embark upon his peak years at Old Trafford.
One thing which cannot be argued is United’s dire need for an experienced, quality centre-half. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, despite the Red Devils’ protests to the contrary, will never be a partnership worthy of winning a major trophy – there is just too much clumsiness and too many lapses in concentration between them to be trustworthy. And at 27 years old, Otamendi ticks the required boxes. He’s experienced, he’s got vast playing time in Europe with FC Porto between 2010 and 2014 and he is tough in the tackle. He doesn’t quite have the high profile that United’s other rumoured target Sergio Ramos has, however he appears unattainable at present.
Another Liga BBVA target, and another Frenchman on United’s list, the acquisition of Benzema could prove pivotal for the Manchester side’s hopes of silverware this season. What he lacks in pure pace, he makes up in just about every other part of his game. The France international can play the target man role, and he can score from almost anywhere – not to mention he is just as apt with his head as his feet. United’s system has long allowed for a less pacy centre-forward anyway, particularly with Louis van Gaal’s system of two wingers. Memphis Depay and Ashley Young can both provide the pace and width to compliment Benzema’s style. Age and lack of form have meant that van Persie has been a shadow of his former self, whilst Wayne Rooney’s ability to play in a varity of roles has meant that Van Gaal has lacked a striker of sufficient quality to stay upfront. Benzema could provide the perfect solution to plug that gap.
The Welshman has been followed closely by Manchester United ever since Real Madrid plucked him from Tottenham’s grasp back in 2013. Despite helping Los Blancos to La Decima in his debut season, Gareth Bale has received continued skepticism from the Bernabeu faithful for failing to live up to the exceptional standards created by Cristiano Ronaldo. And United, however unlikely the move this summer, are desperate for a winger of his magnitude to help propel them towards title glory. He would cost upwards of the record-breaking fee that took him to the Spanish capital, but Bale has Premier League experience, pace, and that exceptional ability to steal points away from opponents at the death.
Perhaps an ostensibly strange choice, but Asmir Begovic would be a very good signing for United. The 28-year-old Bosnian international is a hugely imposing figure in goal for Stoke City, and Chelsea have been closely mooted with move for the 6ft5 goalkeeper. With the imminent departure of David De Gea to Real Madrid, United would seem to have Victor Valdes lined up as his successor, but the Spaniard seems to share a lack of concentration and discipline which can prove lethal. And as Valdes has barely any Premier League experience, the entire experiment could backfire for United. Cue Begovic. He can be acquired for not much over £10m, but he could step straight into the goalkeeping spot if any uncertainty over Valdes ensues, and he could be sold on for a similar fee if United don’t require his services next summer.