Manchester United have been linked with some of the best midfielders in Europe, but they all have one thing in common.
Manchester United may have signed some outstanding players in the summer, but they are still well short of being the finished article.
Their defence is one problem – which could have easily been solved by simply offering Nemanja Vidic a new contract when they had the chance – but it is their midfield – or more specifically their reported midfield targets – that currently generates the most headlines.
First it was Kevin Strootman, then Arturo Vidal, then Strootman again, before both were forgotten, replaced by Ilkay Gundogan, and the latest is that Sami Khedira could be heading to Old Trafford in the not-to-distant future.
The problem with all four players is that their clubs are unlikely to let them go without a fight – with Khedira seemingly the more likely option given the importance of the other three to their current sides.
But there is another problem, and one that could ultimately mean United look somewhere else entirely. All their reported targets are either recovering from or have recently returned after serious injuries.
Gundogan played his first match last weekend after well over a year on the side-lines, while Strootman is still recovering from the cruciate injury that robbed him of much of last season and a place at the World Cup.
As for Vidal, he has suffered a number of minor setbacks in recent months, following the knee injury that almost robbed him of a place in Brazil, too.
And then there is Khedira, who has picked up the tag of ‘injury-prone’ and shows no signs of shaking it off just yet.
United may ultimately take the plunge with one of the players and, if they stay fit, there is no question any of the four would excel at Old Trafford.
But the club will have learnt their lesson from the ill-fated transfer of Owen Hargreaves all those years ago, and Louis van Gaal may already be casting his net a little further afield, with players out there who may be a little less headline-worthy but who could still grow into an outstanding and vital member of the Dutchman’s midfield.