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Transfers: Manchester United eye January acquisitions

Manchester united defender Chris Smalling. Photo courtesy: IBTimes
Manchester united defender Chris Smalling. Photo courtesy: IBTimes
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling. Photo courtesy: IBTimes

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has said he and his colleagues will be ‘on their toes’ this month expecting new arrivals in the January transfer window to fight for places in the first XI.

As usual, United have been linked with a laundry list of players from Europe and beyond, but there has been no activity in the club since the window opened on January 2. Still, manager Louis van Gaal’s team building has been hit by injury woes, so much so that Smalling says media reports of United’s possible buying spree affects the mentality of the players.

“It does spur you on. When you come to Manchester United, in every transfer window – whether the team is doing well or badly – there are always players linked with the club because this club is always linked with the best players,” Smalling told Manutd.com, the club’s official website.

“It keeps you on your toes and spurs you on. You can’t rest on six months of good performances because as soon as you have a blip, there is always another player to take your place.”

Smalling, however, will have little to worry as far competition for places is concerned. The 26-year-old centre half has been quite impressive at the back this season.

“I have stayed relatively injury-free and have been able to play games, build up and keep learning. I take a lot of positives from that,” Smalling said. “We have had a lot of injuries in the centre-back positions, so in these last 12 months I have been happy and injury-free with the manager’s faith. I don’t make too many resolutions but if I can stay injury-free again then I would wish for that.”

Manchester United: Transfer targets

Extrapolating Smalling’s comments, here is a list of options Louis Van Gaal could choose from should he decide bulking up the squad is a priority in January.

Defence

Van Gaal sparked transfer speculation in September, saying after Luke Shaw’s horror fracture in Eindhoven that “maybe we have to buy a left-back in January”. Soon, there were reports that Porto defender and Van Gaal’s compatriot Bruno Martins Indi was in his way to United. While that didn’t quite materialise, Van Gaal has found replacements for Shaw in his own squad. Teenager Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has been decent at left back, as has Matteo Darmian.

However, the Daily Express says United may be in the market for the £35 million Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte.

Midfield

United still look out of balance in midfield, especially in wide positions. Memphis Depay has struggled, while United’s right flank has often been occupied by Juan Mata, hardly a winger. Jesse Lingard, who has impressed in his outings on the wing is still a kid, and is a prospect for the future. For immediate concerns, though, the Daily Express say United are gunning for Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez for £29 million.

However, the Foxes’ coach Claudio Ranieri has categorically said his prized winger is not for sale.

Meanwhile, Italian publication La Repubblica say Lazio’s 22-year-old Felipe Anderson is also on United’s wishlist.

Attack

United have been woeful going forward, scoring only 10 goals in 9 home games. Wayne Rooney has lost his touch, while new signing Anthony Martial has flashed in intervals. Selling Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez hasn’t helped Louis Van Gaal, either.

Long-time target Robert Lewandowski could alleviate United’s pains, but The Sun say the Bayern Munich forward will only agree to a move if Real Madrid came calling. Neymar, too, The Sun says, is on Ed Woodward’s list of players to buy. But that deal is unlikely to happen.

However, a possible January transfer could be Benfica striker Goncalo Guedes, reports the Daily Mirror, while the Daily Star says United are tracking in Mainz forward Yoshinori Muto.

It is highly improbable that big name signings will occur in the January window. For that, United must wait till the summer. However, Louis Van Gaal will hope to bolster his side in preparation of a long season ahead, at the end of which a lack of silverware will severely dent his future at Old Trafford.

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