While not quite the glamour signing Manchester United fans were dreaming of after last season’s action drew to a close. Following heavy links with the likes of Neymar and Gareth Bale throughout the summer, we are now just a day away from the transfer deadline and United have still not brought anyone in to support out of nick captain Wayne Rooney up front. In fact, there is more talk of popular Mexican poacher Javier Hernandez – one of just three senior striking options at Old Trafford – leaving Manchester than of any potential arrivals. This is a worrying thought, given none of United’s three league goals so far have come from a striker. One man who does know how to find the net, however, is Charlie Austin. The 26-year-old scored 18 times for QPR last season and, following the R’s relegation, a move for the striker a reduced price is in the interest of all parties. While it may not be the top-class marquee signing United fans were hoping for, it is certainly one of only a few viable options remaining this late in the window. While there is more to come from Rooney as well as United’s attacking midfielders, Louis van Gaal must be growing increasingly concerned at his side’s slow Premier League start. Austin would play the role of a partner to allow Rooney to drop back in search of the ball, while also contributing his fox-in-the-box abilities to kick-start the Red Devils’s season. Valued at £15m, he would represent good value for a proven Premier League goalscorer, but would not quite represent the all-round quality firepower United were expected to bring in. Nevertheless, Austin can score goals, and beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to a market as fiercely competitive and expensive as top-class striking options. While not lacking money, United simply don’t have the time to miss out on these sorts of opportunities; do so and their title hopes could be over sooner than expected.
Three days ago, United ruled out the possibility of meeting the centre-half’s £35m buyout clause, and it looked as if the Bilbao man would not be moving to Manchester. However, one day ago, United’s defence was breached twice and terrorised for 90 minutes by the strength and power of Bafetimbi Gomis. The Swansea striker targeted Daley Blind and made him look two-feet tall as Van Gaal’s side threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1. This prompted pundit and ex-United defender Gary Neville to stress that his former side needed a new defender, and the flaw at the back surely cannot be lost on van Gaal. At over 6ft 2ins, Laporte would bring in the strength and natural positioning ability that United need to partner either Chris Smalling or Marcos Rojo, and the 21-year-old could provide a long-term as well as short-term solution to the side’s problems in defence. Along with his height, speed and strength under the high ball, Laporte also displays comfort on the ball, which makes him a well-rounded centre half and one who would slot easily into van Gaal’s philosophy. While £35m is a large sum, it seems to be the standard fee for a top-class centre half this summer as displayed by the valuations of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. In addition to Laporte, United would do well to recruit an experienced centre half to fill in and educate those around him, with Bayern Munich’s Dante rumoured to be available for around £5m.
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