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[Photo: sportsdirectnews.com]

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A summer of changes at Old Trafford?

Garay United

A new bounty of Premier League TV money is likely to see Manchester United make substantial moves in the transfer market this summer, with Sir Alex Ferguson desperate to secure one last Champions League trophy before he retires.

The centre of midfield has been long overdue an arrival and given Paul Scholes’ impending retirement, Darren Fletcher’s ongoing battle with illness, Ryan Giggs’ age and Anderson’s likely departure, a move for a deep-lying midfielder seems likely.

Celtic’s Victor Wanyama remains the most obvious option, with the Kenya international impressing for the Scottish champions during this season’s UEFA Champions League. Wanyama’s age and price are likely to offer value and appeal to Manchester United’s American owners and the box-to-box midfielder’s strength, consistency and robustness look ideal compliments to Michael Carrick’s more cultured passing and ability on the ball.

Kevin Strootman is another that has been heavily linked to Old Trafford in the past, but the 23-year olds performances this season for PSV have arguably been the finest of his career, producing a return of five goals and eight assists in just 26 Eredivisie appearances. Like Wanyama, Strootman can slot in alongside Michael Carrick in a deep-lying holding midfield role and the two targets seem the most likely contenders for Manchester United’s ongoing central midfield problems.

[Photo: talksport.co.uk]

[Photo: talksport.co.uk]

Defender Phil Jones has been used as a make-shift defensive minded option at times this term, but whether Manchester United will make a move to sign a centre-back next season will depend largely on the manager’s intended use of the player.

The former Blackburn defender has frequently reiterated his desire to play at centre back and with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic approaching the final stages of their career, the opportunity for Jones to stake a claim in the Red Devils defence does seem inevitable.

Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evans are the mainstay central defensive options, but Ferguson may decide that the four players do not provide enough cover, given the record and succession of injuries for each player.

Michael Keane could be drafted into the first team squad next season following a successful loan spell at Championship side Leicester, but the English defender; who is capable of playing at both centre-half or full back, would most likely benefit from another season out on-loan.

Reports in Portuguese outlet Record last week claimed that Manchester United have “won the race” to sign Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay after meeting the players €20 million buyout clause and the Argentina international has progressed rapidly since being deemed surplus to requirements by  former club Real Madrid in 2011.

Garay’s arrival would seem to drastically reduce Phil Jones’ opportunity to play at centre half next season, but rumours of Nemanja Vidic’s departure from Old Trafford may still yet hold true.

Patrice Evra’s resurgent performances at left-back this season have lessened the tabloid talk about Manchester United signing a new left-back for some time now, but Sir Alex Ferguson might have one eye on signing Evra’s heir this summer.

Samuel Umtiti has featured heavily during Lyon’s Europa League campaign this year, but it was his strike against Tottenham in the knock-out stages that really put the France Under-19 international on the map.

Umtiti’s versatility is an obvious advantage for any side competing on numerous fronts and the price tag on the defender’s head is likely to appeal.

Further forward and the tracking of a left-sided attacker has long been discussed and despite Manchester United’s career long pursuit of Gareth Bale, the Wales international’s transfer fee  is one that the Glazer’s will be unlikely to justify.

Porto’s James Rodriguez has been monitored following his exploits in the Liga Sagres, which saw his 2012 total of 13 goals in 20 league appearances followed up by eight goals in 16 games this time around.

Rodriguez has been labelled ‘El Nuevo Pibe’; the new kid by former Colombian great Carlos Valderrama and the player has been likened to former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo, with the player’s speed, dribbling, ball control, creativity, shot power and goal returns drawing similarities with the current Real Madrid star.

Aged at just 21, Rodriguez is a player Sir Alex Ferguson would deeply love to sign, with a fee of £30 million reportedly enough for Porto to consider discussing the sale.

Mario Gotze and Erik Lamela can both similarly fill that attacking left-sided role, whilst the return of Ronaldo offers a powerful fairytale that offers little substance, but the preference is for Manchester United to secure the signature of James Rodriguez next season, should the fee for Bale be too astronomical.

Ferguson’s use of Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney in more deeper and wider roles, could pave the way for an attacking arrival at Old Trafford with Poland international Robert Lewandowski high on the wish list.

Robin Van Persie’s arrival last summer has notably cooled United’s interest, but any outward movement involving Javier Hernandez or indeed Wayne Rooney could see Lewandowski secure a dream move to Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s desire to secure one last Champions League crown will likely see plenty of high profile movement at Old Trafford this summer, with the club and manager desperate to claw back their European dreams next season.

Jonathan Day is a leading football analyst who specialises in Premier League and European football. Jonathan currently writes for Sportingly Better, a football betting blog that offers free football tips and betting predictions. Follow Sportingly Better on Twitter or Facebook for all the latest free betting tips.

Featured image via sportsdirectnews.com

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