Manchester United transfer targets: 5 signings Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could make in January
Buoyed by two wins in his first two matches, interim Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can feel confident of being backed financially to achieve in the Premier League or in Europe this season.
He likely will not be allowed to spend to the same degree as Jose Mourinho‘s first transfer window (£185m and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free), but he'll be given a healthy injection of funds to try and reduce the current eight point gap between his side and a Champions League spot.
Read more: Manchester United transfer targets: 17 players they could sign in January
Solskjaer has been bestowed, according to some reports, a £50m war chest for January, and how frequently Manchester United have been linked with centre-backs it seems likely he's also identified the position as a current problem in the squad as his predecessor did. While they could also spend on midfielders or attackers, they have a huge rotation of talent in these areas and the defence seems far more urgent an area to address.
If you are unfamiliar with our ratings system for transfers, here is the key:
= Completely unbelievable
= Dead certainty
The Brazilian forward has been persistently linked with Old Trafford and would likely be United's only acquisition in the attacking line, given the riches they currently boast in advanced positions. He has only made four Serie A starts since his move in the summer from Bayern Munich, in part due to the arrival of another big name signing, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Juventus have rubbished talk of a move, discussed as around the €60m mark, despite it being a profit on the €40m they paid for his services. Costa himself has said he wishes to remain in Turin, but Ed Woodward seems to want to make this signing happen.
He's certainly a talented wide player and a useful addition to a squad, but it's uncertain he'd be worth the large sums he appears likely to cost.
The Senegalese centre-back was reported to be the subject of a £95m bid from the club last summer, and his reputation has only grown since. The Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has said on a number of occasions that he values Koulibaly highly and is unwilling to part with him.
Koulibaly is now in his prime, much improved from the £7m defender who arrived from Belgium, and is wanted by many clubs around the world. It would be an expensive but excellent recruitment for the Manchester United squad if they can lure him from Napoli.
If Solskjaer does only have £50m to play with, it's unlikely it will happen in January – but keep your eyes peeled for a summer move.
Club: Atletico Madrid
Position: Centre-back or left back
In an interview in October the young Frenchman put European superclubs on alert when he hinted about his future: “Football moves very quickly and if an irresistible offer arrives…”
Manchester United were one of the clubs knocking on the door of the Wanda Metropolitano, but they will have to get in the queue behind some seriously big names.
Bayern Munich are in for him too and Atletico had to issue a statement last week after reports in Marca about a supposed transfer, insisting that Bayern have not met Hernandez's £77m release clause: “Atletico de Madrid wishes to state that, in conversation with our club, Lucas Hernandez has denied any deal with Bayern Munich and also any intention to exit our club.”
It seems likely at this stage that the young defender is headed to Munich, not Manchester.
Position: Centre-back or right back
The young Serbian defender was scouted by Mourinho prior to his sacking, and while the Portuguese has departed Manchester United's interest remains. La Repubblica claims that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward remains in discussions with the defender's representatives.
It's thought a fee in the region of £34 million would be likely, which would be in budget and strengthening United's defence with a young international with the potential to improve. Matteo Darmian wishes to return to Serie A, and a swap deal could be on the cards.
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A defender in his prime, and considered among the best in Europe. Manolas is, according to reports in Tutto Mercato, available for €36m due to his release clause. This seems very low in the current market and if it's true then it's a move worth considering.
However, given he signed a deal only last winter through until 2022, this seems unlikely to be true – Roma were reported to be working on changing the terms of his release last summer and would be unlikely to allow the Greek to leave so cheaply at the peak of his powers.
If it is true, and United can tempt him, then he would be a decent signing to strengthen at the back.
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