The summer will be here before you know it, and so there’s no doubt that one club that will be busier than most in the transfer window will be Manchester United. Before I get to the 5 footballers who are the most likely transfer targets for the Red Devils, let me rewind and review the certain progression that a signing of a player undertakes.
First, a club identifies a transfer target who fits their needs. This can be through word of mouth, video or in-person evaluation (a hired scout).
Next, contact is made between a buying club and the potential sellers (or the talent’s representatives) to gauge interest in a mutual deal.
Once contact has been made and it has been determined that there is interest in a potential move, the buying club sends representatives out to see the talent in-person and to meet with individuals from the selling club and/or the player’s representatives.
Fans can gauge the seriousness of a club’s interest in signing a player by the level of the buying club’s ‘representative’ who makes this in-person appearance. For example, media reports often surface of a scout or assistant coach being sent to watch a match in Serie A or La Liga. That would be a sign of early interest.
But if a first team manager makes an in-person appearance, that ‘transfer target’ is of major importance and talks between the buyers and sellers (or a player’s representatives) are past the initial “getting to know you” phase. Of course, a manager can attend a match simply to scout for himself. But when he makes multiple appearances, it means he’s doing more than just evaluating.
Face to face conversations, negotiations and evaluations are immensely important. The potential buyers get to meet all parties involved with the talent, and the buyers can sell the “benefits” of signing with their club (i.e. – how the player fits in with the squad, transfer fees, potential wages, etc.) to the player’s representatives.
If a high ranking representative makes more than one in-person appearance, this means there is ‘considerable’ interest from all parties involved. Clubs don’t waste time on travel and face-to-face conversation chasing “dead end” targets.
Based on this, and the public declaration by CEO Ed Woodward that the club will spend heavily during the next transfer window, here are Manchester United’s best chances at summer signings:
1. William Carvalho – Midfielder – Sporting Lisbon FC
Brief Description: 21-year-old Portuguese international. Physically imposing (6’2) and exudes composure on the pitch. Has registered interest from Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. Carvalho is signed with Lisbon until 2018 and has a hefty £37million buyout clause.
Transfer Assessment: United have sent representatives to see Carvalho numerous times this season; David Moyes has personally made the trip thirteen times. The Portuguese midfielder’s recent comments have eluded to a potential move: “[My future could be with] Manchester United or Real Madrid. It’s nice to have a great European club after me, but at the moment I’m totally focused on Sporting and doing my best until the end of the season. At the end of the campaign, we will see what happens.”