Jose Mourinho might have spent £285 million on players in the last year, but his Manchester United side is currently on the slide.
After recent Premier League losses to Huddersfield and Chelsea, the Red Devils were eight points adrift of Manchester City after 14 games. Although the race for the title is far from over, Mourinho is in danger of coming out of the festive period on the backfoot if things don’t start to improve. Indeed, if you take a look at the current Premier League outright betting market, the odds makers are already starting to hedge their bets on United. At the time of writing, City were way out in front in the betting stakes at 1/10 on to win the league, while Mourinho’s men are out at 14/1 ahead of Chelsea (22/1).
Of course, a signing or two isn’t the only answer to the problems facing a team, but there’s no doubt fresh blood can help. Now, if you read the papers, you’ll know that the Special One may have to sell someone before he can bring in someone new. However, it’s highly unlikely that the board will refuse to dip into the coffers if a world-class player can be brought into the mix for a song. With this in mind, we’ve picked out five players Mourinho could and possible should sign in January if he wants to keep pace with City.
Danny Rose: When the United manager declined to sign a wing-back in the summer, it raised a few eyebrows among the Old Trafford faithful. However, those eyebrows could be put back in place come the New Year if Mourinho makes a move for Danny Rose. The Doncaster native has always said he’d love to return to the North and, following two snubs by Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, the rumours are that he’s not happy. If he can’t find his way into the squad and the rumours regarding his discontent are true, then Rose could make an excellent addition to the Mourinho’s side.
Antoine Griezmann: The transfer embargo on the Atletico Madrid forward comes to an end in January and he could provide some extra firepower. The Frenchman has scored six in 16 European and domestic games this season and 127 in 320 appearances at club and international level. This strike rates, combined with a pass success score always above or around the 80% mark, makes Griezmann a solid pick. However, with United’s frontline performing well so far this season, it’s likely Mourinho will wait until the summer to sign the 26-year-old.
Fabinho: The Brazilian was a target for United in the summer until Monaco started to play hardball. Current reports suggest the Ligue 1 side will demand £75 million for their star player in the summer, which could put the mockers on a January transfer move. When it comes to game and goals, Fabinho has 20 notches on his belt after 177 appearances. On top of this, his pass success rating is very strong for a defensive midfielder and that could give Mourinho another person who can sweep up loose balls in the middle of the park and feed them up to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Romelu Lukaku.
Gareth Bale: He might have said that he wants to end his career at Real Madrid, but we all know that football is a funny old game and anything can happen. The Welshman entered the Bernabeu as the hottest prospect in world football back in 2013, but it’s fair to say things haven’t gone his way since he flew to Spain. Injuries have caused to him to fall out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and hasn’t featured since September.
With United one of the only teams that can afford his wages, the former Spurs star might struggle to find a new home if he does decide that he’s tired of sitting on the bench. Sometimes you find a player that’s immensely talented that seems happy to waste away on the bench and maybe that’s Bale in this instance. However, it isn’t, the Old Trafford could be the perfect home.
Mesut Ozil: OK, so his contract with Arsenal isn’t up until the summer, but Ozil could be one to watch if you’re part of the Manchester massive. Mourinho has made it clear that a left-footed player is on his radar and it’s no secret he and Ozil share a close relationship. After working with each other at Real Madrid, Ozil knows what the Special One expects from his players and that could make him a useful addition to the side.
However, if you ask Mark Lawrenson, the German won’t fit into the United setup, telling BBC Sports that he doesn’t fit into the “blueprint” of a Mourinho player. While that could be up for debate, there’s no doubt he’s a solid player that could perform a job at Old Trafford.
Of course, at this point, all this is speculation. Trying to second-guess Mourinho is almost impossible and he’s always said that players are overpriced in the January transfer window. However, if he does fancy dipping into the club’s coffers, the players we’ve picked out could easily bring some interesting new moves to the mix.