Unless there is a change in the club’s ownership structure, Erik ten Hag may have to get creative again.
On New Years’ Eve, 2022, Marcus Rashford scored in a 1-0 Manchester United win over Wolves that got the club into the Champions League spots for the first time that season. On a six game winning streak, Erik ten Hag would have hoped to push on with some smart January transfers.
As it transpired, United ended up making three loan signings – Jack Butland, Marcel Sabitzer and Wout Weghorst. None of them really worked out and none are at the club any more.
Heading into the January 2024 transfer window, ten Hag does not have near as much clout. The club has lost 11 times, so far, this season, including four times at Old Trafford. They are sixth in the league, out of the EFL Cup and on the verge of Champions League elimination. Any United supporters expecting some big-name signings in January are deluding themselves, especially if the Glazers retain the biggest chunk of the ownership pie.
To get some reinforcements, the under pressure ten Hag may have to first move some players on. Jadon Sancho’s days look numbered at the club. He has been linked with a Borussia Dortmund swap deal. Netherlands winger Donyell Malen, who has been linked with Liverpool, could be offered up as a straight swap for the über-dropped Sancho.
The other likely departure is Sergio Reguilon. Tyrell Malacia is still out injured but Luke Shaw is now back, prompting ten Hag to say – “We have to make a final decision on Reguilon. But also there is Spurs who are involved in that conversation as well.”
Reguilon looked bright in his first couple of United outings but has been pretty pedestrian in his last few appearances for the club. Another player than may not be long for the club is Raphaël Varane. The World Cup winner now looks to be behind these titans in the central defender pecking order – Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Jonny Evans.
If two, three, or more, are heading out the door, who do United get in to see them through until the end of the season? Well, the latest targets are of the left-field variety.
January transfers and Man United links
Ahead of Manchester City’s weekend win against Luton, Pep Guardiola was asked if the upcoming January transfers could include Kalvin Phillips moving on.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” the City boss admitted. “I feel so sorry for my decision for him. I’ve said that many times. He doesn’t deserve what has happened to him and I’m so sorry… It’s just because I visualise some things and visualise the team and things – and I struggle to see him.”
Phillips has found himself linked with Newcastle United and Liverpool, already, this season but talkSport are now reporting that Manchester United are looking into a possible January move. Guardiola’s City have sold the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, and the Spaniard is on the record saying he would never rule out selling to a rival club.
Further afield, Mundo Deportivo are reporting that United are so keen on Uruguay defender Ronald Araujo that they are willing to double his current Barcelona wages. The 24-year-old has 16 international caps, has been on the Barca books since 2018 and has also found his name linked with Bayern Munich.
Staying in Spain, United and Newcastle – two sides that could be in the market for goalkeeping competition – have been linked with 6-foot-6 Valencia stopper, Giorgi Mamardashvili. The 23-year-old is a Georgia international, who moved to LaLiga in 2021, could be on the move, according to Spanish outlet Fichajes.
Liverpool linked with Joao Palhinha
Liverpool supporters have been gleefully mocking Moises Caicedo and Romeo Laviaafter Chelsea’s latest league struggles. Both players rejected summer moves to Anfield, in favour of Chelsea. Liverpool are now top of the league after beating Crystal Palace, on Saturday.
Reds supporters may have more reasons to be cheerful as, according to TEAMtalk, the club have entered the race to sign midfielder Joao Palhinha. The Portugal international looked set for a summer transfer switch to Bayern Munich, but the deal feel through as it was proposed too late on the final day.
Bayern remain keen on Palhinha, as are Newcastle, but Liverpool’s league-topping form may help influence the player’s final decision, if he opts to leave West London in the January transfers.
Over at Arsenal, the club could do with a more potent leading man, leading to understandable links with Ivan Toney. Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman has an alternative proposal.
“[Ollie Watkins] is a good shout, yeah, because he’s a box striker,” he told his Seaman Says podcast. “He doesn’t get too involved in the build-up play, which I like.”
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