Ahead of Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth round match at Preston, manager Louis van Gaal has expressed his desperation to sign a midfielder this summer.
Early-season injury crises in defence created a general consensus that the Reds would be bolstering at the back during the off-season, but the Dutchman’s transfer priorities are focused on improving a different area.
“Signing a creative player should be our priority this summer,” said Van Gaal, “I’m looking for balance and I need it in midfield.”
After rotating a number of combinations, the former Barcelona and FC Bayern Munchen boss has concluded that his midfield Rubik’s Cube cannot be solved without further investment, but what type of player does he need?
In Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata, they have two of the finest attacking midfielders in the Premier League, while Adnan Januzaj is a fledgling frontrunner in the same position.
Inflating this division of the team clearly isn’t the answer; Van Gaal has some of the finest practitioners on the planet, yet he still feels his side is lacking.
It would appear that a deep-lying pass-picker is the solution to Man Utd’s quandary then.
Atletico Madrid superstar Koke is one player frequently mentioned in relation to an Old Trafford move, as is Dortmund locksmith Ilkay Gundogan.
The Spaniard, however, has expressed his desire to remain at the Vicente Calderon, while his German counterpart is less than a year into a new contract at the Westfalenstadion.
Man Utd wouldn’t find another former target, Paris Saint-Germain’s Yohan Cabaye, quite as difficult to obtain, with the Frenchman widely expected to depart the Parc Des Princes this summer in search of regular football.
But why pursue the former Newcastle playmaker when there’s another Ligue 1 superstar of greater pedigree likely to be available.
Monaco’s Joao Moutinho has long been linked to a Premier League move, with Tottenham the regular protagonist in transfer dramas involving the Portuguese pass master.
Playing in a Monaco team that haven’t found the going quite as easy this season, the 28-year-old maintains a healthy 52.3 passes per match average in Ligue 1, 81.8% of these are on the money.
Such figures suggest Moutinho is the ideal candidate to furnish Man Utd’s array of world-class conjurers with the ball in dangerous, more advanced positions, which is sure to enable them to produce their most devastating form next term.
It’s 3/1 that he joins the Old Trafford club before the summer transfer window closes.