Manchester United have been linked with a number of emerging stars across Europe, but all those reports sound a little too good to be true.
A brief examination of the back pages of any national newspaper in the last couple of months would have you believe the following about Manchester United manager David Moyes:
a) He has a ‘wish list’
b) He has £200 million to spend on transfers this summer, and
c) He is planning a complete overhaul of his squad.
All this despite the fact that the under-pressure Scot has not publicly stated he is interested in any of the players being suggested – Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, William Carvalho, Ezequiel Garay, Alex Song, Edinson Cavani or Paul Pogba.
United's chief executive Ed Woodward has said that the club will back the manager – both in the boardroom and in the transfer market, but a figure of £200 million is largely an invention of the press.
It’s the same situation when Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis stated last season the Gunners could afford Wayne Rooney’s wages; for the next six weeks the back pages were replete with ‘Rooney to Arsenal’ headlines.
Logic and reason are not necessarily something the media have great interest in. For example, despite the fact that United have a fully developed top-level right-back in Rafael, Seamus Coleman is still being linked with a move to Old Trafford every other day.
Meanwhile, the press can often appear bipolar at times, claiming that United will struggle to attract top talent without Champions League football on one page, while on the opposite page they would have an exclusive expose of the £260,000-a-week offer the club are offering Toni Kroos (which his agent has now denied, by the way).
I don’t mean to shatter the dreams of United fans across the globe, but that’s exactly what these stories are: fantasy. The newspapers fuel the imaginations of fans who play Football Manager and FIFA and think that transfers are really that simple.
My prediction is Kroos will sign a new contract to stay at Bayern Munich – just like Ilkay Gundogan now has at Borussia Dortmund. I wrote back in January, on deadline day, in fact, of the obvious reason he is ‘keen’ on a move to United: he wants a better deal at Bayern that competes with the wages Mario Gotze is on. He is just haggling with his club with scare tactics, using the media (and the fans) as a means to get the figure he wants on the table.
I also believe Marco Reus is not going to leave Dortmund either – at least not for United - and neither is his manager Jurgen Klopp. Moyes will remain at Old Trafford and he will spend much less than £200m. Yes, he will offload some players, but he will not dispose of the entire United first team as has been suggested.
As for William Carvalho and the reported £30m deal agreed – that one is a bit of an unknown. Whilst he is a fine young prospect with a bright future, he is untested at the top level.
If Moyes brings in a defensive midfielder, then I would put money on him signing a Brit. After the season the boss has had this term, he is not going to take any risks with his signings. In fact, we have already seen that in the signings of Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini – Moyes will bring in proven players, most likely from the Premier League.
Luke Shaw could definitely be on the cards (if another big club doesn’t get him first), as could Southampton stars Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez. Everton youngster Ross Barkley too could arrive and, who knows, maybe even a German player, if that’s what the fans seem so desperate for. However, it is highly unlikely that it will be Kroos or Reus.