Manchester United were thought to be on the cusp of completing a move for Inter Milan winger Ivan Perišić until recently, but the Serie A side are driving a hard bargain and the move seems to have stalled.
Perišić had, reportedly, been desperate to join the Old Trafford side and the transfer seemed imminent just a short time ago. But now the silence regarding United‘s pursuit of the former Borussia Dortmund man is deafening.
Manager José Mourinho handed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward a list of transfer targets back in April, and Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matić and Victor Lindelöf have already been secured.
If Mourinho is minded to switch his attention away from Perišić in light of the difficulty of the deal, here are five wingers he could target.
Felipe Anderson – Lazio
United’s current crop of wide players – Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata – are all either strikers or No.10s by trade, and therefore prefer to come inside when they receive the ball out on the flanks.
So it makes sense that Mourinho is keen to add some natural width to his side, hence his pursuit of Perišić, who also offers experience and versatility.
But if Perišić is no longer an option, Lazio’s Felipe Anderson would tick many of the same boxes, while also being four years younger than the Inter star.
Anderson has been linked with a move to Old Trafford several times in the past but on those occasions he was a gifted yet flawed and deeply frustrating attacking player.
Last season, though, the one-cap Brazil international made huge leaps, upping his work rate and defensive acumen – indeed, he made more tackles than any other player in Serie A – becoming a much more consistent performer as a result.
Like Perišić, he can play on either flank and has even operated as a wing-back at times, which would give Mourinho plenty of tactical flexibility.
Although Anderson attempted fewer crosses than Perišić last term, he was more accurate with his deliveries, finding a colleague from wide 1.2 times per game to the former Wolfsburg man’s 1.1. The Lazio player also provided more assists (nine to eight).
With his dynamic pace, mesmerising dribbling skills and ability to shoot powerfully and accurately from distance with either foot, Anderson has all of the tools to excite United fans as well as satisfying the discipline and defensive requirements of Mourinho.
Julian Brandt – Bayer Leverkusen
A rumoured Liverpool transfer target, Julian Brandt has impressed since his Bundesliga breakthrough with Bayer Leverkusen in February 2014.
His run of remarkable form at the end of the 2015/16 campaign – in which he scored in six consecutive matches – brought the young winger to the attention of top clubs across Europe.
Leverkusen endured a difficult 2016/17, and Brandt’s goals production was down, finding the net just three times in the league. But he remained a potent creative force, providing nine assists – more than any United player managed in the Premier League.
Comfortable on either flank, the two-footed 21-year-old has tremendous balance and deceptively quick feet, allowing him to slalom away from challenges. He also has a razor-sharp eye for a killer pass, creating an average of two chances per 90 minutes last season.
Gelson Martins – Sporting Lisbon
Direct and blessed with searing pace, 22-year-old Sporting winger Gelson Martins is a terrifying prospect for opposition defenders.
Previously believed to be a Real Madrid transfer target, Martins scored nine goals and registered six assists in Liga NOS last term.
Although his average of 0.6 accurate crosses per game in league action in 2016/17 was lower than that of Perišić, he completed 2.2 crosses per game in Champions League action, showing that he can adjust his approach to the tactical demands of the manager when required to do so.
Having spent time at full-back early run his career, Martins has the defensive knowhow to fulfil Mourinho’s expectations and his speed, power and dynamism would offer United something they don’t currently have.
Ángel Di María – Paris Saint-Germain
A left-field suggestion, Ángel Di María could find himself surplus to requirements at the Parc des Princes following PSG’s world-record €222million signing of Neymar from Barcelona.
The Argentine wing wizard left the red side of Manchester acrimoniously two years ago, just 12 months after setting a new British transfer record with his £59.7million move from Real Madrid.
Stifled by Louis van Gaal’s negative tactics and rattled by a burglary at his home, Di María’s impressive early performances were seldom replicated as he cut the figure of a man who couldn’t wait to leave Old Trafford.
However, the 29-year-old former Benfica star remains one of the most creative and effective attacking players in the world when motivated and on form.
Having worked with Mourinho at the Bernabéu, not to mention the fact the pair share an agent, there is reason to believe that a second bite and the United cherry couldn’t yield much better results for Di María.
Lucas Moura – Paris Saint-Germain
Another PSG man who could be pushed out of Paris by Neymar’s arrival is Lucas Moura.
The Brazilian winger, now 24, has never truly delivered on the immense potential he showed as a teenager. But his tremendous pace and refined finishing skills make him a threat for any defence.
Sir Alex Ferguson famously bemoaned being priced out of a move for the youngster when he joined the Parisians from São Paulo in 2013, but the Red Devils would likely face no such issues if they were to target the player now, with PSG believed to be open to his sale.
Moura, linked with a move to Arsenal, returned an impressive 12 goals and five assists in Ligue 1 last term while also making 1.4 crosses per game and 2.1 key passes per 90.
He may not be the hot property he once was, but the 36-cap Brazil international is highly effective and young enough to improve further in the future.