While Manchester United fans may hope for mid-season recruitment, they themselves may be subject to asset-swooping vultures.
'We've not been up to scratch, there's no hiding that,' summarised Manchester United goal-keeper David de Gea, as quoted by Marca, their second loss of December alone and their fifth in Premier League competition this season.
The burgeoning shot-stopper continued: 'We're struggling to create clear chances in the opposition box and when that happens you get punished. We have to keep working hard and improving.'
Various members from the Manchester United personnel have attempted to diagnose the problem: from defender Phil Jones citing the squad's low confidence, to manager David Moyes claiming the team suffer when attacking pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are not playing together.
The former had been suspended for the Newcastle United loss on Saturday while the latter is slowly returning to full match fitness following injury. Moyes said as per the Daily Star: 'We've got a really good record when Robin and Wayne play together but we knew at the start of the season that there would be times when players would be injured or suspended. Wayne's played great and we do miss him undoubtedly because he's a great player.'
Considering how poor the club's record therefore is when Rooney and van Persie are not together, how much of a disaster would it be should one of them leave in January… or at the end of the season?
Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson recently suggested the Dutchman had handed a transfer request to the club's upper brass, something Moyes was swift to rubbish, as well as The Times' club correspondent James Ducker, who took to Twitter to nonsense the speculation.
That has not stopped clubs on the continent from circling, though, seeing United's mid-table position in the English division as evidence for vulnerability and waiting for the opportune moment to swoop and pick away at the morsels left on the Old Trafford bones.
Sport, for instance, claim Barcelona are aware of the van Persie situation and manager Tata Martino has allegedly expressed to the Catalan board that he wishes to recruit the striker, valued at £40m on transfermarkt.co.uk, to Camp Nou as soon as possible.
image: © nasmac