5 players Manchester United could target in the January transfer window
Cristiano Ronaldo’s unceremonious exit during the FIFA World Cup 2022 left a glaring hole in Manchester United’s squad, which they would like to fill in the January transfer window.
After attacking the club, head coach Erik Ten Hag and players of past and present in an explosive interview with Piers Morgan, the Portuguese forward left the Red Devils with no choice but to terminate his contract by mutual consent. In a way, he got what he wanted, and United will now look to find a replacement and it’s going to be some shoes to fill.
Moreover, the centre-forward position is not the only headache for Ten Hag as he will look to add a new right-back given the struggles of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The former Crystal Palace defender has faced time out through injury but given his lack of attacking abilities, there’s a general consensus around the club that a new full-back might be needed.
Furthermore, the signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid may have pleased the Old Trafford faithful, but he isn’t getting any younger and in the long run, a central midfielder could also be on the agenda.
Here are the top five players Man United could target in the upcoming January transfer window:
#5 Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan)
Even when Wan-Bissaka was not injured earlier in the season, he was by no means the first name on the team sheet. The 25-year-old has made just 2 appearances this season across all competitions partly due to injury and partly due to the coach’s choice.
The Englishman has been linked to multiple clubs including Palace and West Ham. Should he depart to seek regular minutes then the Red Devils may well move for Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries.
The Dutchman can play at right-back and centre-back as well, and he has played in 20 matches for the Italian club in all the competitions this season, contributing 2 goals and 3 assists. While it’s not a lot, he is certainly more of an attacking threat than Wan-Bissaka.
He’s been at San Siro since 2021, and while the Nerazzurri may be reluctant to part ways with Dumfries just yet, their finances haven’t been soaring exactly, thus a good offer from United could certainly tempt those in the Italian capital.
#4 Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)
The Old Trafford outfit may well go back to the Serie A to fill in the Ronaldo-shaped hole with Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic proving to be a prolific goal scorer. Before joining the Old Lady he was linked to many top clubs, and in his time at Turin so far, the Serbian has scored seven goals in 15 appearances this term.
He also scored a solitary goal during the FIFA World Cup but played in only two matches in what was an underwhelming campaign for Serbia. The ex-Fiorentina marksman would be the perfect focal point to lead United’s attack and despite his physical prowess, he has good speed and agility as well. Some would say that he’s tailor-made for the Premier League.
Under normal circumstances, Ten Hag’s side would have struggled to get Juventus onto the negotiation table but given their poor finances, the Red Devils may just force the hand of Vlahovic’s current employers.
#3 Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)
The son of legendary French midfielder Lilian Thuram, Bundesliga fans will know all about the exploits of Marcus. He has scored 41 goals and provided 26 assists, in 119 appearances to date for Borussia Monchengladbach.
Apart from leading the line, the Frenchman can also play on the left wing as well. He shone sporadically at the FIFA World Cup too, operating under the shadow of Olivier Giroud. If all goes to plan, Thuram may well be leading the line for France at the next World Cup in 2026.
Joining United would certainly help boost his stock, and they would not have to break the bank to sign the 25-year-old because he will be a free agent in the summer. His German employers thus would be willing to agree to a cut-price deal in January rather than lose him for free at the end of the season.
#2 Enzo Fernandez (Benfica)
Having won the Best Young Player award at FIFA World Cup, Enzo Fernandez announced himself on the biggest stage of them all. Since then he had been on the radar of plenty of top European clubs, including the Red Devils.
Ten Hag currently has plenty of midfielders to choose from, although except Donny Van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, and Scott McTominay, all are either in their 30s or beyond. The Dutch coach has been a long-time fan of Frenkie de Jong, and while Fernandez plays a different role to the former, one could say that he’s probably more suited to what United need.
Not only would the Argentine help take the creativity burden off Bruno, but he would also add pace and youthful exuberance in the middle of the park. The only problem here is that Fernandez is being chased by plenty of suitors, and his current deal runs through to 2027, and there is a £105m release clause, so Benfica is not going to budge for anything less than that.
#1 Cody Gakpo (PSV)
Even before his heroics at the FIFA World Cup, Cody Gakpo came very close to signing for United, but for some reason, the deal never went through. How the Red Devils would be kicking themselves now, as they face stern competition from others elites to land the PSV youngster.
The 23-year-old has lit up the Eredivisie, scoring 9 and setting up 12 goals for his teammates. He has 13 goals in total so far this season, and 17 assists to his name. His current deal expires in 2026, and after scoring three goals back-to-back in the group stage in Qatar, Gakpo’s value has skyrocketed and deservedly so.
Ten Hag’s side are front runners for his signature, and it remains to be seen whether the move is completed in January, or will they wait until the end of the season.