After a blistering start to the season, things have just come back down to earth a little for Manchester United – and with neighbours City looking unstoppable, attention now turns to the January transfer window, in what could be a crucial time should United look to reign in the blue half of Manchester.
Here, FantasySports.co.uk takes a look at three players that could help United challenge City, as well as enhance their chances in the various Cups that United remain involved in – and are realistic in terms of affordability and opportunity to land.
SAMUEL UMTITI (Barcelona)
The main area of United’s focus for January will undoubtedly in defence, and whilst Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane will remain on the United radar, boss Jose Mourinho is already casting admiring glances in the direction of Barcelona’s French international Samuel Umtiti. Prising him away from the Camp Nou will not be easy, but Manchester United will see the buyout clause of £53 million well within their range, and linking up with French teammate Paul Pogba may just convince Umtiti to make the move to Old Trafford. Umtiti would strengthen the United back line and give them added depth – he would be, we imagine, an ideal player to land.
MESUT OZIL (Arsenal)
Ozil seems certain to leave Arsenal sooner or later – and whilst he hasn’t exactly set the Premier League alight this season at the Emirates, Mourinho still sees quality in a player that would, he hopes, provide the ammunition in a more central role, allowing the likes of Martial and Rashford on the wings to feed Lukaku. Henrikh Mikhitaryan has cooled off after a hot start, whilst Juan Mata isn’t showing the form needed. United desperately miss Paul Pogba and Mourinho will feel another attacking midfielder is needed – with Nemanja Matic covering the defence, and having adequate cover himself with Ander Herrara. Whether Manchester United can land Ozil from Arsenal though remains to be seen – it seems obvious they would prefer to see him leave the Premier League, with Atletico Madrid in La Liga a distinct possibility.
DRIES MERTENS (Napoli)
Mertens has been in sensational form for Napoli and his fantastic goals to game ratio in Serie A (35 games, 28 goals last season, 12 games, 10 goals so far this season) is something that would very much whet the appetite for Mourinho as he sees goals fly in for fun at the Etihad whilst his own strike force stutter in front of goal. OK, United still have the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to factor in, and at 30, Mertens is not a long term option for the Red Devils – but for £25 million, Mourinho may just feel that is worth expending as the goals Mertens could bring may just be the difference between losses turning into draws, and draws into vital wins.
There is little doubt that Manchester United will still be in the race for the Premier League title when the January transfer window creaks open – as well as having the Champions League knock out stages upcoming and the FA Cup underway. For around £100 million Mourinho could well land three valuable assets that would look money very well spent if they contribute at Old Trafford the way they have for their own clubs overall.