January hasn’t always been so fruitful mind you - the infamous Alexis Sanchez-Henrik Mkhitaryan swap deal, arguably the worst in recent history, springs to mind - but the Red Devils’ last big winter move most certainly worked. Bruno Fernandes’ £47m arrival (which could rise to £67.7m) from Sporting Lisbon has transformed our midfield, with the Portuguese playmaker averaging a direct goal involvement almost every game.
The summer window of 2020 saw two more overseas marquee signings in the form of Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani, so will 2021 see more of the same? I name five players who the mighty Red Devils should be looking to bring in this month.
United’s defence continues to become unstuck against top teams and Upamecano is widely considered to be one of the stars of the future. Already involved in the France national squad, the rapid centre-half played a vital role in RB Leipzig’s journey to last year’s UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Despite not living up to expectation in the two group stage games against United in this season’s competition, the 22-year-old will be sought after by all of Europe’s leading names in the near future.
With no bids last summer, Upamecano signed a new deal until 2023. Usually, this means that a player’s value goes up – but this one's different. His old contract had a release clause of £54m which would have expired midway through the European Championships, but his new deal includes a reduced release clause of only £36.5m that will come into play next season.
Given that, heartbreakingly, other Clubs in England have had more success than United in recent years, could Olé tell Woodward and co. to pull their fingers out and make a deal for the French wonderkid? An offer of £40m-£45m is more than the new clause and still a snip of what Leipzig would demand without it.
Škriniar has been at the heart of Inter Milan’s defence for years and is unwaveringly nominated for player of the year. After helping the Italian giants to their first European final since 2010 last season, the Slovak centre-back knows how to lead the line – something which United often find themselves crying out for.
After crashing out of Europe altogether by finishing bottom of their Champions League group, Inter may find a few clubs come calling for their 25-year-old warrior and, with Liverpool seemingly not willing to meet the £54m asking price, United could find themselves in pole position to bring one of the best central defenders in world football to Old Trafford.
Young, flying full backs has become a cornerstone of 21st Century football and United already have one in Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but every team needs strength in depth and that’s not something that we can boast. Almost a year ago, the Red Devils hammered Norwich City 4-0, but Aarons put up a hell of a fight at the Theatre of Dreams and was their star player alongside Jamal Lewis last term.
Barcelona twice tried and failed to land the England u21 star’s signature on loan because the Canaries wanted a fee included at the end of the deal but it's understood that Aarons agreed terms, so all the signs point to him wanting to move away from Carrow Road. There aren’t too many quality right backs on the market and, although Norwich are fighting for promotion back to the Premier League, Max is definitely one to target.
Another French wonderkid, the Rennes playmaker is expected to make a big money move very soon. Camavinga’s agent says they have an “excellent” relationship with Real Madrid, but would he be guaranteed playtime at Los Blancos? I doubt it. Granted, Donny van de Beek still isn’t a regular starter, but we often see players loaned back to the selling club for the remainder of a season and this could be an avenue for United to exploit given Rennes’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League again.
With the ability to read the game, have quick feet in tight areas and the speed burst passed players with the ball at pace, the 18-year-old has all the attributes of a United midfielder. Solskjær thrived off midfielders of Camavinga’s ilk feeding balls in behind defences, so surely the gaffer must be interested in landing the teenager. They said you’ll never win anything with kids. We could do so again if he lives up to the hype in United red.
Old Trafford may be home to some of the Premier League’s best attacking midfielders, but the role alongside them still divides opinion. Fred has impressed me so far this season, McTominay too, but neither of them stand out as being up there alongside the likes of Liverpool’s Fabinho or Henderson, nor Man City’s Rodri. Milinković-Savić has the potential and class to change that. Put him in our midfield three alongside Fernandes and Pogba and those two really can focus on going forward instead of tracking back, which Paul never seems to do anyway. Maybe Fred still warrants a start in there and Paul can make more of an impact off the bench as defences tire.
If you’d asked me to value Milinković-Savić a year ago, I would’ve said upwards of £65m. However, given Lazio’s poor start to 2020/21 – they lie eighth in Serie A – United would likely have a bid of £50m-£60m accepted for the 25-year-old who most likely has ten years left in him – at least three of those before he hits his peak.
Jadon Sancho has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for what seems like an eternity and we thought there was a breakthrough last summer, only to see Borussia Dortmund’s £100m asking price too steep after van de Beek’s arrival. The English wide man has failed to hit the heights so far this season, maybe the failed move is playing a part, so his price tag may fall slightly. This one, however, looks like a summer target – especially with the German outfit comfortably winning their Champions League group to quality for the knockout stages.
Jack Grealish’s transfer status is basically see above with one exception: He loves Villa and Villa know that. Not only is he essential to their squad, they’re having their best season in a long, long time. With the Euros this summer and spots in the England squad arguably more competitive than ever before, Grealish won’t want to be starting on the bench every other week. Let’s come back to this in the summer.
This last one might surprise you a bit, but I’d love to see Memphis Depay back at the club. Like many before him, it didn’t quite work out and maybe he made that big, ‘career-changing’ move a bit too soon, but since leaving Old Trafford he has become a sensational forward for Lyon. His contract is up in the summer and their owner has already accepted the fact that Depay is leaving on a free, it’s just a matter of where to. He has unfinished business at the Theatre of Dreams.