After accumulating only 13 points from his maiden 10 Premier League ties with Manchester United, it didn’t take long before critics started making premature comparisons between newly-appointed boss Louis Van Gaal and the ill-fated reign of David Moyes.
However, following an improved run of results in recent months, Van Gaal now sees his side placed within the table’s sacred top-four and still with an outside chance of launching a title challenge. For that to happen, and despite already having blown just short of £150 in the summer, LVG will surely have to strengthen his squad this month.
Time is running out but who could be on United’s radar?
It’s the time of the year when so much speculation is made over potential arrivals and Hummels is a name that will appear regularly in the gossip columns between now and the end of the window.
It’s been no secret that Van Gaal is a big advocate of the 3-5-2 system, although its flaws have been clear for all to see so far this season, principally because United lack that commanding centre-half that such a shape requires. Blackett and McNair have shown promise for the future but simply don’t have the class and experience that World Cup-winner Hummels possesses.
The Borussia Dortmund defender has many admirers all over Europe but Van Gaal is clearly a name that players hold in high regard. With Dortmund enduring a miserable term this year, Hummels may well decide that it’s a good time to leave the Bundesliga outfit, albeit it would probably take a bid in excess of £30 million for Jürgen Klopp to even think about letting one of his Talismen depart.
Aston Villa skipper Vlaar is a player that Van Gaal already knows inside-out, with the centre back having formed part of the Netherlands’ 2014 World Cup defence and perhaps crucially, in comparison with Hummels, wouldn’t break the United bank.
The attractive fact that Vlaar is approaching the end of his contract with may be too much for Van Gaal to resist the idea of recruiting his fellow countryman as a short-term solution to his worries at the back.
Elsewhere in the defensive department, Coleman could be the man to fill the role of right-wing-back in Van Gaal’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, especially when you consider what the Irishman offers both in defenve and attack.
It’s public knowledge that Coleman grew up as a Manchester United fan and, at 26-years-old, the time might just be a right for such a player to make a big-money move. He was snapped up for just £60,000 by Everton in 2008, but a relocation to Old Trafford would surely be nearer the £20 million mark.
The central-midfield area is an issue that has been of great concern for the Manchester United faithful for years now and Zenit St. Petersburg’s Witsel has openly expressed his desire to become a Premier League star with the Red Devils.
Similarly to Coleman, Witsel is approaching what most would consider to be the peak of his career, while he also has plenty of international experience to call upon having represented Belgium on 54 occasions. Witsel has an excellent range of passing in his locker and is also an impressive physical presence in the centre of the park, but such attributes come with a cost, and Van Gaal would have to look at a bid of around £30.
It was only 18 months ago that the Welshman put pen to paper on a deal with giants Real Madrid, but some recent reports coming out of the Spanish capital are that Bale is struggling to adapt in his new surroundings, and would love to return home.
United tried to hijack Bale’s move to Madrid in 2013, and it’s not an impossibility that Van Gaal will try his luck this transfer window to tempt the player back to the Premier League, although the potential transfer would more than likely have to eclipse the world-record fee of £85.3 million that Carlo Ancelotti paid for him.