Having finished 19 points behind neighbours Manchester City in 2017-18, Manchester United headed into the summer knowing that there was plenty of work to be done in the transfer market to mount a serious challenge next season.
They have already added Fred to their midfield supplies and brought in Diogo Dalot as another full-back option, as well as signing Lee Grant as their third-choice goalkeeper, but there are still a number of players in their sights.
Below, Goal goes through 10 of the targets they have in their sights, starting with the more serious possibilities and working down to those who are consider back-up possibilities
#1 Toby Alderweireld
Jose Mourinho’s main concern at this point is to add to his central defensive stocks. Despite already having great quantity in that position, the United boss believes he needs more quality and the club have been keeping a keen eye on developments around Toby Alderweireld at Tottenham.
After losing his place in the Spurs side last season, the Belgian centre-half turned in a good showing at the World Cup before blasting his club omission as “unjustified”.
United are expected to need to fork out around £60-70 million for Alderweireld and while they will undoubtedly barter, they will not want to miss out as a result, as was the case with Ivan Perisic last summer.
Having already been snapped up once by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea in 2013, Willian is again on the Portuguese’s radar.
Despite the United manager having announced on more than one occasion last season that he will not be on the lookout for a striker or attacking midfielder, he could yet bring in a wide man should Anthony Martial jockey for a move away.
Chelsea’s asking price for the Brazilian may be prohibitive, though, and with Barcelona having also shown a serious interest, United will not want to get into a bidding war.
#3 Ivan Perisic
Ivan Perisic’s form for Croatia at the World Cup acted as a big, fat ‘I told you so’ for Jose Mourinho to his recruitment department after United failed to match Inter’s demands for the wide man last summer.
The manager asked for four players to bolster his squad for 2017-18 but missing out on Perisic meant him having to settle for three.
“I wanted Ivan Perisic. He went from Croatia to Borussia Dortmund, then to Wolfsburg, then to Inter,” Mourinho told Russia Today. “I do not know why he did not come to Manchester United, I wanted him.”
Such was Perisic’s quality in Russia over the last month, if Mourinho is intent on having another go at bringing in the 29-year-old, then there will surely be a more concerted effort for United to bring in their man than there was 12 months ago.
#4 Gareth Bale
After concerted efforts for his signature in 2013 and 2015, United’s interest in Gareth Bale has not waned since Mourinho arrived in 2016.
When United came up against Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup last summer, Mourinho even resorted to joking with the Welshman about a move, telling him: “I can’t buy you because you don’t talk to me.”
But a move this summer is unlikely now that Madrid have seen Cristiano Ronaldo depart and both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe ruled out of transfers to the Bernabeu. Eden Hazard could be on his way to replace Ronaldo but that would not be enough for the Blancos to part with Bale.
#5 Alex Sandro
Joao Cancelo’s transfer from Valencia to Juventus, along with the Old Lady’s pursuit of Matteo Darmian, had many United fans hoping that the way was being cleared for Alex Sandro to make a move to Old Trafford but the Bianconeri are in no rush to rid themselves of the Brazilian left-back.
Juve CEO Beppe Marotta insisted earlier in the summer that they would be raising the possibility of a new contract with Alex Sandro, but both United and Paris Saint-Germain have had the 27-year-old’s head turning.
Recent reports from France suggest the former Porto man will follow former Juve team-mate Dani Alves to PSG, with United reportedly happy to stick with Luke Shaw and Ashley Young as their left-back options if they cannot secure a deal.
#6 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Lazio’s Serbian midfielder continues to see his star rise after having a positive influence at the World Cup despite his country’s early exit.
United have been watching the 23-year-old for a number of years but having now snapped up Fred to supply a new angle to their midfield play, it seems unlikely that they will bring in Milinkovic-Savic as well this summer.
That could clear the way for Chelsea to make their move, but Mourinho and United appear happy for that to happen now that they have Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Scott McTominay among their midfield options for the season ahead.
#7 Ante Rebic
While Croatia team-mate Perisic has been a long-term target, Ante Rebic has been thrust into United’s view following his performances at this summer’s World Cup.
Though the club have watched him develop with Eintracht Frankfurt over the last couple of years, it has been his form with his country over the last month which has had them believing he may be a good fit at Old Trafford.
Mourinho’s insistence that he already has what he needs in attack doesn’t tally with a move for both Perisic and Rebic unless there are to be outgoings too, but United might well decide that the 24-year-old is a worthwhile addition for the longer term regardless of whether he was initially a part of their transfer plan.
#8 Harry Maguire
World Cups are rarely the shop windows they used to be given the vast scale of knowledge of the global club scene these days, but it is fair to say that Maguire’s stock has risen markedly after taking to the international stage with great confidence during England’s run to the semi-final in Russia.
With Leicester City likely to want a huge return on their £17m investment last summer, United would have to part with a sizeable sum for the 25-year-old but Mourinho could be persuaded that he is the best option as he looks to add a centre-half with Premier League experience and a degree of comfort in possession.
#9 Milan Skriniar
Inter defender Milan Skriniar has caused quite a stir with his performances in Serie A of late, and United are known to be big admirers. The 23-year-old was a stand-out in the Nerazzurri’s run to Champions League qualification in 2017-18 and it prompted United to show a serious interest.
But Skriniar told the Slovakian FA website earlier this summer that his current club had taken a decision out of his hands by rejecting United’s approach. “I’m glad they are interested in me, but Inter decided what they decided so I cannot say anything more about it. However, I am satisfied.”
That would appear to end the story on Skriniar for this summer at least, unless United decide to go for a bank-busting offer rather than seek out a deal with one of their higher priorities.
#10 Leonardo Bonucci
AC Milan’s financial issues, which have seen them ruled out of the Europa League for the coming season, may well lead to them allowing a couple of major assets to leave. And with a €14m annual salary, Leonardo Bonucci is currently one of the biggest financial liabilities the Rossoneri have.
United have been credited with an interest by some reports in Italy, and Mourinho’s desire to add a centre-back means a move may not be out of the question.
But United’s name may well be being used as leverage for Milan to get a better deal, with PSG among those potentially being enticed to splash out on a man who cost €40m last summer when leaving Juventus for San Siro.