Manchester United are not traditionally big movers in the January transfer window. Could that change next month?
In a month's time the transfer window re-opens, and the question on the lips of Manchester United supporters is whether or not they will be making any signings or simply watching their rivals doing so.
This week the club have been linked with signing German wizard Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid which would certainly be an ambitious move, but the identity of United's January targets remains a mystery.
We have decided to take a look at seven Spanish stars who could join compatriot David de Gea at Old Trafford, or at least deserve consideration by Sir Alex Ferguson...
1) Iker Muniain
Muniain dazzled at Old Trafford in the Europa League last season and he is certainly a player United will know all about. The 19-year-old has been dubbed the 'Spanish Messi' by his national media (no pressure), but he has all the tools in his locker to be a highly influential player at the very top level. If United do decide to cash in on Nani then they will have significant funds available to sign such a dynamic attacker, and is perhaps a safer bet than James Rodriguez. He also prefers to play on the left, and would be a surefire upgrade on Ashley Young.
2) Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera is another Bilbao star who has what it takes to succeed at the highest level. The box-to-box midfielder can do the lot, score goals, create, and get stuck in, and is only 23. He would likely cost around £15 million, a similar amount to PSV's Kevin Strootman, and is a viable alternative. His performances have seen him likened to Steven Gerrard and a full international cap cannot be far off. A big move to United could just help him make the jump and take his career to the next level, while also adding talent to United's central midfield.
Malaga winger Isco has emerged as one of Europe's most in-demand players, and is valued at over £20 million. United continue to be linked with the 20-year-old, who can play across the attack and has demonstrated his potential in the Champions League this season with two goals and two assists in four appearances. He is an integral part of Spain's under-21 side, but is also a target for a number of any Premier League clubs. Convincing him to leave in January will be a big ask, but if any of their rivals make a move it could force United's hand to make a bid.
Real Betis midfielder Benat is Spanish football's man of the moment, after breaking into the national team this season, he followed it up by scoring a winner past Real Madrid last weekend. The central midfielder has a reported release clause of £16 million and at 25 he presents a more than reasonable proposition during the next transfer window, as a player who can add a touch of class, finesse, and composure to United's midfield. With his contract expiring in 2014 Betis may be advised to push to cash in, although United will face competition for his signature with Real Madrid interested along with fellow Premier League clubs including rivals Manchester City.
5) Hugo Mallo
If United look to Spain to search for back-up at right-back to Rafael da Silva, they would be wise to take a look at Hugo Mallo. The Celta Vigo defender is just 21 and is having an impressive campaign, in fact nobody in La Liga has made more tackles than the defender. He is a current member of Spain's under-21 side and could be snapped up for as little as £5 million, making him a sound investment and giving Rafael a bit of healthy competition.
6) Markel Susaeta
Susaeta is another member of the impressive Bilbao team who defeated United home and away last season, and plays on the right-wing. The 24-year-old won his first international cap against Panama last month, and scored in the 5-1 win. He is having an impressive season, scoring three in six Europa League games. He signed a new deal in the summer at the club until 2017, but this is more likely to ensure the club receive a fair price for the talented wide man if an offer comes in. With his international recognition he is bound to look for a step up, and he is another alternative to replace Nani if he leaves and place pressure on Antonio Valencia.
7) Ignacio Camacho
Tough tackling Ignacio Camacho is a defensive midfielder United could do with if they want to add steel to their midfield and allow extra freedom to their attacking talent. The 22-year-old has grown in presence with Malaga this campaign, alongside Isco playing a key part in their Champions League campaign. His involvement in the competition means this may be a deal placed on ice this January, but if United were to suffer injuries in midfield they could seek to take the plunge on making an offer. A former Spain under-17 captain, no player in La Liga has made more interceptions this season than he has.
Would you like to see any of the above arrive at Old Trafford in January?
images: © Jack Tanner