After a dismal start to the season, Manchester United are slowly finding their feet again in the Barclays Premier League, but after a draw away to Cardiff earlier today, the alarm bells are ringing once again, as David Moyes’ side is closer to the border of mediocrity than world class. However, with the January transfer window just over a month away, the Red Devils will be looking to add some much needed class to their back-line, and a prime candidate to do so is FC Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala.
The France international is only 22 years old and has come to the attention of many of Europe’s top clubs over the past 2 years, due to his stellar performances in the Primeira Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Although there is a lot of potential there, he is a pricey option, as previously Chelsea and Barcelona were reportedly quoted £40m for his services, and they may not be ready to pay that much for the youngster, though after missing out on Raphael Varane to Real Madrid, who is currently on a meteoric rise, it may be foolish to delay a bid any longer than they have to.
With Marc Bartra’s quality performances in the absence of Carles Puyol, the Catalans may no longer be interested, but as John Terry approaches his 33rd birthday, the Blues can offer pretty stiff competition, but Manchester United can offer a solid place in the starting XI, which may be too good to turn down.
Meanwhile, the Manchester United midfield has been lacking creativity, as with Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini occupying the 2 central midfield slots, United’s centre is packed with steel over flair, and it is that which is causing the goal-scoring problems Moyes’ men have been facing this season. Montpellier’s Remy Cabella should sort that problem out, although he is usually deployed as a classic no.10, he can also drop back and play as a deep-lying playmaker, something Fellaini and Carrick are both incapable of. The skillful Frenchman also holds a high price, in fact it will take£100m to prize him away, according to Montpellier boss Jean Fernandez.
Although it is highly unlikely United would pay that much for the France international, it is unlikely also that Montpellier would hold out for such a monumental fee, and would probably accept a bid in the region of £30m. Although this also seems a lot for a relatively unproven player, comparisons with the great Zinedine Zidane haven’t came around for nothing, as he continues to be one of the great hopes of the future of French football, along with Paul Pogba and Clement Grenier, who have also excelled at club level.
With little to no competition for his signature, it seems that United could finalise this transfer pretty quickly, though all it takes is for Paris Saint Germain or AS Monaco to get interested to make things tricky.
Another cause for concern at Old Trafford are the wingers, Ashley Young has made the headlines for cheating and diving, while Nani has failed to hit the heights he did at the start of his United career, meaning that the wide positions are rarely occupied and leaves the all-important counter attacking system with a lot to be desired. With a little work and determination it seems that Nani could return to be one of the first names on the United team sheet, though it seems Young is out of his depth and must be replaced.
An option for this is Sporting Lisbon’s Diego Capel, although he is very much a frustrating player, when he shows up, he can be unplayable, and even broke into the senior Spain squad back in 2008. The Sporting winger has a £30m buyout clause, though it is likely the Portuguese side will accept a lower offer, as he is yet to live up to a release clause of that magnitude since his transfer from Sevilla, though players that move on from Portugal are notoriously expensive.