Three transfer targets to spark Louis van Gaal’s Man United into life

Kieran Beckles takes a look at three players Manchester United could target in the January transfer window

The glamour signing: James Rodriguez

While most of the Real Madrid squad are loving life under new manager Zinedine Zidane, James Rodriguez looks to be the only Los Blancos player rueing the France legend’s appointment as Rafael Benitez’s successor. Isco, who has many admirers amongst Madristas, has flourished upon his return to the starting line-up after falling out-of-favour under Benitez. Rodriguez came on as a second-half substitute in Madrid’s landslide La Liga victories over the past two weekends, with Isco starting ahead of the former Monaco midfielder. The Colombia international has started just seven of Madrid’s 21 La Liga games so far this season. So it’s no surprise that Rodriguez has been linked with a move to the Premier League. The 24-year-old’s direct style of play would be a welcome addition to Manchester United’s side, and he would be a glamour signing capable of lifting the mood around Old Trafford. However, would United be willing to pay £60m for another South American after the Angel di Maria disaster?

The Premier League option: Sadio Mane

Louis van Gaal will know all about Sadio Mane after facing the African forward three times during his 18-month reign at Old Trafford. The Southampton man has been a long-term target for the Red Devils if media speculation is to be believed. Ronald Koeman dropped Mane earlier this month, criticising the player’s poor time keeping, which would have only served as encouragement for United in their pursuit of the Saints star. Mane was linked with United in the summer, but according to reports, Southampton wanted £30m, with the Red Devils only willing to pay £20m. If common ground can be found, Mane would be a cheaper option than Rodriguez. However, he wouldn’t be able to provide the feel-good factor that the 2014 World Cup star undoubtedly would.

The teenage option: Renato Sanches

Renato Sanchez is the latest name to be linked with a move to the Old Trafford. For most fans of the Premier League, the 18-year-old is an unknown quantity. The Portugal Under-19 international has been a key part of Benfica’s title push so far this season. He has already scored two goals in 11 league appearances, as well as playing in two of their Champions League group-stage games. One for the future, but as Anthony Martial has proven with his impact this season, youthful enthusiasm can be good medicine for a team struggling for ideas. The sceptics will points to another young Portuguese player who ultimately failed to deliver: ​Bebe. Sanches might not be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, but even a slight improvement on Nani would do.

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