Because less players equal more space to pass and move

10 players United may sign

After missing out on a spot in the Champions League last season, Manchester United seem to have turned around their fortunes and are once again back in contention for a top-four finish this season.

If United can continue their impressive run of results that they are on at the moment, they could also claw back the deficit between themselves and betfair favourites Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Louis van Gaal was given over £170 million to spend in the summer and did a good job bringing in some of the biggest names in Europe to Old Trafford to strengthen his squad for the 2014/15 campaign. Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera have all helped improve the quality available to the Dutchman, bringing about a change in the results this season.

We’ve seen the sporting highlights of 2014 but could United go on to be a standout of 2015? New players could help and, now, as we approach the January transfer window, here are ten names Van Gaal may look to bring in to the club next month.

Edinson Cavani (PSG)
Reports suggest PSG boss Laurent Blanc is happy to let go of Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani either in January or in next the summer. A fee of £50 million is likely to be required to take him away from Parc des Princes, though, and Manchester United are one of the few clubs in Europe that will be willing to spend that much on one player next month during the transfer window.

Cavani’s form for PSG has been inconsistent, one of the reasons why former United defender Blanc is content with the forward leaving the club. The Uruguayan international has also failed to tie down his long-term commitment to the Ligue 1 side in a number of interviews with the press which suggests he is looking for a move away from France.

Competition for Cavani may also include Arsenal and Manchester City, who are both desperate to add to their attacking lines for the final half of the season and will see the PSG man as the perfect fit to do just that.

Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)
The one area of the current Manchester United team which Van Gaal will be looking to improve as a priority is their defence. Not only is it far from average compared to the other top-four clubs in England, it is severely lacking in numbers due to long list of injuries in that department this season.

Jose Gimenez is only 19-years-old but is already being talked about as having a bright future. Although he is not currently a regular for Atletico Madrid, he is around their first team at the moment having played a handful of games this season.

Despite his young age, Gimenez has picked up 14 caps for Uruguay where he played against England at the World Cup in his side’s 2-1 victory over the Three Lions in the group stage of the competition.

Van Gaal may be able to tempt the youngster away from Madrid if he can promise him more regular first-team football which would aid his development. He may not come cheap to United but they may see this signing as an investment in one of Europe’s brightest young defenders.

Mats Hummels – Dortmund
It’s hard to believe that Dortmund are having a nightmare campaign in the Bundesliga which sees them locked in a relegation battle this season. The 2012 German champions and last year’s runners-up are a shade of the side which were competing for the Champions League trophy in the final against Bayern Munich in 2013.

The German club has lost a number of their high-profile players which have helped them to have a lot of success in recent years. It now looks like Mats Hummels will be the latest asset to be cashed in by the club. The 26-year-old would be an ideal signing for United who are looking for a defender with experience of playing in one of the top flights in Europe and in the Champions League.

Hummels was a part of Germany’s World Cup triumph earlier this year where he helped his country lift the trophy after beating Argentina in extra-time. The Dortmund defender has 38 caps for the national side where he has been a regular in the starting XI since 2010.

Sami Khedira (Real Madrid)
Sami Khedira has made just four league appearances for Real Madrid this season as he has not been favoured by Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The German midfielder may see the January transfer window as the perfect time to depart the Bernabeu in order to get regular first-team football.

There were rumours back in the summer that Khedira had almost signed for Arsenal but could not agree personal terms. The Gunners are likely to want to pick up their target once again so Manchester United would have competition if the Madrid man was on their shortlist.

Khedira would be a good fit into United’s midfield as he would offer their defence some assistance which in turn would give some of the attacking players in the starting XI more freedom in the final third of the pitch.

The one concern Van Gaal may have about the 27-year-old is his injury record in recent years. Khedira tore a ligament in his right knee last year and also missed the World Cup final after pulling up in his warm up for the game in Brazil earlier this summer.

Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG)

Ezequiel Lavezzi is often linked with a move to England when a transfer window is opening. Liverpool were rumoured to be interested in the Argentinian forward in the summer to replace Luis Suarez, who headed to Barcelona, but that move never came off.

Although United have a number of players to fill their attacking positions on the pitch, it is hard to see them turning down the signing of Lavezzi if he was available in January.

The PSG forward was one of Argentina’s best players at the World Cup in the summer where he helped them to finish runners-up in the tournament.

Lavezzi would fit well into the United team as he would offer some pace in their attack, especially when his compatriot, Angel Di Maria, is out on the sidelines. He has been a key part of PSG’s success in the Ligue 1 over the past couple of seasons where they finished top of the French league in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Enzo Perez (Benfica)
Enzo Perez has been at Benfica since 2011, when he joined the Portuguese club from his home country club Estudiantes. His performances last year in Benfica’s title-winning season helped him pick up the Primeira Liga Player of the Year award.

Perez was in the starting XI for Argentina in the quarter-final, semi-final and final of the World Cup and is considered a regular in the midfield for the South American country.

Again, United are not short of attacking midfielders but what Perez would offer them is durability. He can play on either wing, in the centre of midfield (his current position for Benfica) or as a false striker. These options will be attractive to Van Gaal, although Valencia could offer competition, as players like Perez, who are adaptable, are difficult to find but offer so much to the squad.

Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona)
Ivan Rakitic was one of the big summer signings when he transferred to Barcelona from Sevilla for an undisclosed fee before the World Cup. However, the Croatian international has not quite made the impact the Catalan fans were expecting at the Nou Camp.

Rakitic knows La Liga well after spending four years with Sevilla where he helped them win the Europa League last season with a penalty shootout win over Benfica. The Croatian was the man of the match in that final in Turin which was to be his final game for the club. His dip in form can only go down as the pressure of playing for Spanish giants Barcelona and for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique appears to favour Xavi over Rakitic at the moment which is hardly a show of confidence in the new man considering the Catalan veteran is at the age of 34.

It is thought Manchester City, along with United, may test Barca’s resolve in their new signing this January, which Rakitic may see as a lifeline. The Croatian has a similar game to Luka Modric, who shined in the Premier League for Tottenham before his move to Real Madrid.

Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray)
A lot of eyebrows were raised when Wesley Sneijder left Inter Milan to play in Turkey for Galatasaray. The Dutchman is still young enough at 30 to play for one of the top clubs in Europe and he may decide in January to do that by leaving his Turkish side to have one more shot with a major outfit.

Sneijder proved his worth during the World Cup where he was one of the Netherlands’ best players at the tournament.
The Dutchman was a target of Manchester United’s last January when then boss David Moyes tried to sign him, while he has also been on the shortlist at Chelsea for a number of years.

Having managed him with the Netherlands national team, Van Gaal will know Sneijder very well and he may decide now is the perfect opportunity to sign up to play for his former manager in England.

Sneijder has never played for an English club before but he has always impressed against Premier League opposition in the Champions League.

Kevin Strootman (Roma)
As soon as Van Gaal signed on the dotted line to become Manchester United manager, everyone thought his first signing would be Kevin Strootman from Roma. However, the Dutchman has struggled with injuries over the past 12 months which has probably delayed an inevitable transfer.

Van Gaal is Strootman’s biggest fan and was a regular in his side during qualification for the World Cup. Unfortunately for both, the midfielder picked up an injury which ruled him out of the tournament in Brazil.

Strootman has picked up comparisons with Roy Keane for his tough style of play and is exactly what United are missing at the moment in their midfield.

If the 24-year-old can prove he is over his fitness and injury problems, it seems it will only be a matter of time before he joins Van Gaal in England at Old Trafford. Roma have said they are unwilling to let their man go but as is always the case in football, every player has his price.

Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa are struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table so it may come as a surprise to some Manchester United fans if they turn to the Midlands club for one of their players next month. However, Ron Vlaar may well be a target for United boss Van Gaal.

Vlaar was Van Gaal’s captain of the Dutch side during the World Cup and a player he trusted immensely in the centre of his defence which did very well at the tournament in Brazil. The 29-year-old has missed a large part of this season through injury but, when fit, is a crucial member of the Villa team.

The big positive for signing Vlaar for the United boss is that he has three years of experience playing in the Premier League so he should be able to step straight into Van Gaal’s team without any time needed to adapt. Signing players from other leagues around Europe and the world is a risk as you need them to settle straight in midway through a campaign.

Vlaar would likely relish a move to United and although Villa would be reluctant to let him go, they could not really stand in his way. A transfer fee in the region of £15 million would likely to be enough to get his services and he could be a good addition to United’s squad.