It’s been a summer of ups and downs for Manchester United in the transfer market so far.
The Red Devils were determined to land Antoine Griezmann before Atlético Madrid‘s registration bad scuppered any deal. But they bounced back with the signings of Victor Lindelöf and Romelu Lukaku for a combined £116million.
Lukaku’s arrival looked set to spark United‘s transfer activity into life, but moves for Chelsea‘s Nemanja Matić and Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur have proven unfruitful, while the club’s pursuit of Croatian winger Ivan Perišić drags on.
Manager José Mourinho has admitted his frustration at being thus far unable to strengthen as he’d like, and even seems resigned to the fact that there might only be one more player through the door, rather than the two he desires.
But there is still more than a month to go before the window slams shut and plenty of time for United to splash more cash.
The Football Whispers Index takes every transfer rumour and assigns a score out of five based on likelihood and validity; here, we asses the top five Manchester Unted transfer rumours to see who could yet be on their way to Old Trafford.
Ivan Perišić – Inter Milan – 4.3
After looking like a formality for several weeks, United’s move for Perišić appears to have reached an impasse.
All eyes were on the Croatian earlier this week when he was due to fly out to China for Inter Milan’s pre-season tour. Speculation was rife over whether or not the Premier League club would lodge an acceptable bid for the 28-year-old before he travelled east.
However, no suitable offer arrived and Perišić got on the plane.
Inter are said to value the player, who scored 11 goals and registered eight assists in Serie A last season, at €55million, while United have fallen short of that figure with their bids so far.
Italian transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio reported recently that the San Siro giants have now shifted the goalposts in negotiations, insisting that a season-long loan of 21-year-old French forward Anthony Martial must be included in any deal.
United are unlikely to bow to that demand, but there remains a confidence that an agreement will eventually be reached.
Serge Aurier – Paris Saint-Germain – 3.7
Mourinho reportedly fancies Monaco’s Fabinho for the role, despite the Brazilian having featured in central midfield all of last season, but the Monegasque club are proving tough negotiators.
Hence the switch in focus to Aurier, who is out of favour in Paris following Dani Alves’ arrival and could be available for around £25million.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international is a suburb full-back – athletic, powerful and technically impressive, he as every tool to succeed in the Premier League.
But there have been major question marks over his attitude in the past, with an outburst against former PSG boss Laurent Blanc and then (and possibly future) team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimović getting him into hot water and causing dressing room unrest.
He was also unable to play in England in a Champions League fixture against Manchester City last season having been denied a visa for an assault conviction.
It is not clear whether this would affect his ability to obtain a work permit, but it is probably fair to assume that United have received assurances about this if indeed they are serious in their attempts to sign the defender.
Juventus and City have also been named as admirers of Aurier, but the Italian champions are out of the race as they have no non-EU places free in their squad, while City are closing in on the signing of right-back Danilo from Real Madrid.
That would leave United in the clear if they wish to pursue a move for Aurier. Antonio Valencia starred as a right-sided full-back last term, but he turns 32 before the start of the new season; acquiring younger, long-term option would make sense.
Fabinho – Monaco – 3.0
Fabinho is believed to be United’s first choice for the right-back position. And the former Real Madrid loanee is thought to be keen to return to his defensive station in order to stake a claim for a starting berth with Brazil at next year’s World Cup.
Di Marzio reported last month that the Red Devils had lodged a €50million bid for the 23-year-old, but there seems to have been no recent movement to that end.
With The Independent‘s claim that Monaco are playing hardball over player sales this summer – a theory borne out by the fact Manchester City will have to pay around £50million for left-back Benjamin Mendy – United are said to be looking elsewhere.
A move for Fabinho cannot be completely ruled out, however. Mourinho is growing frustrated at his club’s inability to secure a defensive midfielder, and the Brazilian’s ability to play that role in addition to full-back would be invaluable.
Marquinhos – Paris Saint-Germain – 3.0
United were linked with a move for PSG centre-back Marquinhos earlier this summer, with reports in Brazil even claiming that the Old Trafford side had placed a €70million bid for the gifted defender.
However, having already forked out £31million to sign Lindelöf from Benfica, Mourinho’s need for central defensive reinforcement has been taken care of.
PSG’s move for Barcelona superstar Neymar could, however, pique United’s interest in Marquinhos once more.
The Parisians are preparing to meet the Brazilian forward’s £196million release clause, and many believe that they may be required to sell a key player or two to ease the financial burden of Neymar’s arrival.
That could lead to Marquinhos being on the market and, regardless or the defenders already at United, a player of the 23-year-old’s calibre will always be under consideration.
Zlatan Ibrahimović – Unattached – 2.9
Ibrahimović arrived in England last summer with no shortage of doubters. At 34 it was reasoned that the former AC Milan and Ajax striker was too old and too slow to cut it in the Premier League.
But 17 league goals, 28 in all competitions, an EFL Cup and Europa League title later, those dissenting voices were rendered silent.
A cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in April bought Ibrahimović’s fairytale season to an abrupt climax, and, out of contract, the player was released at the end of the campaign.
There remains a possibility, however, that the Swede will re-sign with United once he has completed his rehabilitation. The 35-year-old will be basing his recovery at the club’s facilities and should be ready to return to action in January.
“Possible, it’s open,” Mourinho said last week when asked whether he’d bring Ibrahimović back in January. “Of course we wanted to be honest and open and let everything for him to make the decision.
“I don’t think before December he can get back to competitive football, but why not wait for a player who gave us so much.
“We are changing ideas and it’s with Mr Woodward and Zlatan’s agent but the final decision is the best for the player.”