Transfer Watch: Seven Summer Targets for Jose Mourinho
If you believe the news, Manchester United are trying to sign everybody this summer. From Torino striker Andrea Belotti to four-time World Player of the Year and former Red Devils hero Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho’s men have been linked with a number of bids for the best players on the planet.
Unfortunately, not all of these rumours are true but United fans can still dream as the 20-time Premier League champions look to regain their rightful place at the top of the English football ladder. It won’t be easy but with sound financial investment this summer, United can get back to their brilliant best.
The Red Devils have struggled to inspire confidence in England’s top flight since Sir Alex Ferguson retired back in 2013 but Mourinho has the credentials and winning experience to take United back to the summit.
The bookmakers certainly seem to share this view; United are priced at 3/1 to win the title next season, with many operators offering a number of free bets via Oddschecker ahead of the new season. At these odds, plenty of bettors will be looking to back Mourinho’s men despite their recent failures.
If Man United are to put themselves into Premier League title contention in 2017/18, they must invest intelligently this summer – but who should be firmly on Jose Mourinho’s radar?
Fabinho (AS Monaco)
Monaco were fantastic to watch last season, with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappe and former United man Radamel Falcao flourishing in attack. However, it would be foolish to ignore Fabinho’s contributions to Monaco’s success. The 2016/17 Ligue 1 champions are expecting a summer raid this summer and with Silva already out of the door, Fabinho could be next.
Fabinho is a right back by trade but he is one of the most versatile young talents in Europe and that may convince Mourinho to make a move this summer. Capable of slotting into defensive midfield if needed, his ability to play in a number of positions will appeal to the Red Devils boss – especially as United look to strengthen their squad ahead of what could be a busy campaign.
At just 23 years old, he already has a wealth of experience and was a key figure for Monaco last season. If you watched the French side demolish Manchester City, you may have noticed Fabinho then and he would be a great addition to the Old Trafford squad. With 14 goals in 67 Monaco appearances, he is an attacking full back and he could blossom into a world-class footballer in the near future.
He won’t come cheap but United should pay whatever it takes to sign Fabinho this summer. If the Red Devils don’t act quickly, somebody else will. Brazilian defenders can be temperamental but he has the qualities of a future star and Mourinho will be desperate to make it happen. Is a deal realistic? Only time will tell – he would certainly prove useful throughout the season if nothing else.
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mourinho may decide to look for a proven Premier League talent to control the midfield and Tottenham’s Eric Dier could be one of the first names on his list. Essentially, the Portuguese will be keen to sign somebody to replace Michael Carrick and Dier, an England international, certainly fits the bill. He isn’t going to get forward very often but he does a job and that is exactly what the Red Devils need.
If there’s one thing we know about Daniel Levy, it is that he drives a hard bargain and United may have to pay through the roof to sign Dier this summer. According to reports, Spurs have placed a £50 million price tag on Dier’s head and United might be tempted at that price. If truth be told, United fans may want somebody with more class but Dier could help to take this Red Devils side to the next level.
Source: Eric Dier via Facebook
Why is that? Because he will free up Paul Pogba to focus on going forward. We all know that Pogba is an elite talent but he was hindered at times last season, having to focus on his defensive duties instead of creating chances in attack. With Dier sitting deep and Ander Herrera buzzing about the midfield, Pogba will be given more of a free role to venture forward and that can only be a positive for United.
Is he going to set the world on fire at Old Trafford? Probably not. But that isn’t what Dier is about and it never will be. In order to regain the Premier League title, United need to tighten up in defensive midfield and Dier will bring stability and reliability to that area of the pitch. The Red Devils could do a lot worse than sign the England man this summer.
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid)
According to various news outlets, Morata looks set to be United’s second signing of the summer after Benfica and Sweden defender Victor Lindelof moved to Old Trafford earlier this month. On paper, the Spain striker fits the bill to succeed in the Premier League and Red Devils fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing the 24-year-old leading the line as United look to regain the crown.
Last season, despite spending a large chunk of the campaign sitting on the bench, Morata scored 22 goals in 47 appearances – a solid achievement considering the competition in that Madrid squad. Realistically, Morata will struggle to get in ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale so he has been limited to the odd cameo role off the bench.
But when he has been given the opportunity to shine, he has usually stood out as a player with bags of potential and Mourinho has the man management skills to mould Morata into a truly world-class talent. United will have to pay around £80 million to sign the Spaniard but that represents decent value for money in today’s transfer market.
With rumours suggesting that Romelu Lukaku, another United target, has a £100 million price tag on his head, the Red Devils will be laughing if they sign a proven centre forward for £79 million. He isn’t the complete package just yet but he is not without talent and United could be the ideal landing spot for him to fulfil that potential.
Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon)
Should United fail in their pursuit of Morata, Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette could be an option. The Frenchman is as reliable as they come, bagging 112 goals in 182 games for Lyon since the start of the 2013/14 campaign, and United should take a look at how much Lacazette will cost. With Arsenal and Liverpool also interested in the France star, signing the 26-year-old would also hurt two direct title rivals.
Is Lacazette good enough? Can he do it on the big stage? Those are two questions that keep coming up but until an elite European club gives him the chance to showcase his talent, we will never know. He is a big fish in a small pond when it comes to Ligue 1 but Lacazette has shown all the signs of being able to hold his own in the Premier League – hence continued interest from multiple top flight clubs.
Earlier this summer, reports claimed that Atletico Madrid were set to sign the 26-year-old but their transfer ban was upheld, ending speculation of a bid for the Lyon star. If you believe that a deal was in place, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Lacazette remain with the French side for the time being and force a move through once Atletico’s ban is over. However, an offer from United could change his thinking.
Lacazette has been linked with Europe’s elite clubs for a while but when it comes to walking the walk, nobody wants to take a punt on the Frenchman. The Lyon forward announced that he would definitely leave the club this summer but with Atletico’s ban, an exit could be put on hold. Would he succeed at United? Almost certainly. Is a move likely? Probably not.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Just imagine the scenes. For many years, Kasper’s father Peter stood tall as United’s number one goalkeeper and his son could take over the mantle in the near future. Two seasons ago, the Leicester City shot-stopper was phenomenal as the Foxes secured a miraculous Premier League triumph and the Red Devils could move for Schmeichel based on his performances throughout that campaign.
Last season, he didn’t receive as many plaudits due to Leicester’s struggles in the first half of the campaign but Schmeichel remains one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. If truth be told, the Foxes will almost certainly put an extortionate bounty on his head but the Red Devils may be able to convince him to push for an exit if they really want him but that doesn’t look plausible at the present moment.
Source: Kasper Schmeichel via Facebook
For the time being, it appears that both David de Gea and Sergio Romero will stay at United and that should end any rumours of a Schmeichel move to Old Trafford. Although some fans have their doubts over De Gea’s long-term future at the club, Real Madrid have cooled their pursuit and the Spaniard appears happy enough to stay in Manchester for the remainder of his contract.
Meanwhile, Romero showed his quality throughout United’s Europa League-winning run last season, making a number of key saves in the competition. Although not seriously tested in the final against Ajax, he proved himself to Red Devils supporters and fans may want to see Romero given more game time next season. A romantic move for Schmeichel could be on the cards at some point in the future but not just yet.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Could United hijack Chelsea’s move for Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku? There’s nothing that Mourinho would love more than to steal the Everton man from under Antonio Conte’s nose but it doesn’t look likely. With the Red Devils focusing primarily on Alvaro Morata, Lukaku’s impending move to Stamford Bridge could be finalised before United even have the chance to produce a big for the youngster.
Lukaku has been around for quite a while but he is still just 24 years old. With bags of experience, it is easy to see why Europe’s top clubs have shown interest in the Toffees star and a move away from Goodison Park looks likely. Recent reports claimed that he has spoken to Jose Mourinho about joining United this summer but they could turn out to be hogwash; Lukaku fans, don’t get your hopes up just yet.
In 186 Premier League appearances, Lukaku has scored 85 goals and Everton will be looking to cash in on the big Belgian this summer. Various estimates have the 24-year-old priced at around £90 million – a huge sum of money that could be heading to Goodison Park. Paying that figure isn’t a problem for United or Chelsea but both may have doubts over his ability to maintain his current form long term.
Most United fans would agree that Mourinho should hang on and make signing Harry Kane his number one priority next summer. Lukaku is an excellent striker but Kane is a class above and acquiring the Spurs man would be ideal. With that in mind, a move for the Everton star this year looks unlikely; United will be trying to close out the Morata deal before considering a bid for Kane next summer.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
We couldn’t not talk about the continued speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s cloudy future at Madrid and United fans would love it if Mourinho could strike a deal to bring the 32-year-old back to Old Trafford. Ronaldo enjoyed a solid start to his career in Manchester and it would be fitting if he returned for the remainder of his time as a world-class footballer.
How much will Ronaldo cost? Well, that is half the problem. He might not be happy at Real but Madrid don’t have to sell him and they can price most clubs out of the market. Some reports are suggesting that the Red Devils might have to pay in excess of £300 million to re-sign the Portuguese this summer; a stupid amount of money for any player.
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However, Ronaldo’s personal attitude towards an Old Trafford return could help Madrid see sense. If he truly wishes to leave, Real won’t want to keep an unhappy player sat on the sidelines – no matter who it is. For the right price, Ronaldo is probably gettable and United supporters could get their ultimate wish of a romantic reunion before the end of the transfer window.
Without a doubt, Ronaldo is still the best player in the world and a return to the Premier League could give United the impetus to go on and win the title. Imagine Ronaldo leading the line with the likes of Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford just behind? The Red Devils would be in business – go on Ed Woodward, make the deal happen.