Manchester United smashed their transfer record to secure the signature of Paul Pogba from Juventus in their bid to end Premier League title drought. The Red Devils have failed to win the top-flight crown since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, with two of his successors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal paying the price for being unable to put the club in contention.
United have spent heavily over the past three years, but have been forced to watch their rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and even Leicester City lift the trophy. Their struggles in Europe have been even worse, failing to reach the Champions League in two out of the three seasons, while they were knocked out of the competition at the group stage last term.
As a result they moved to replace Van Gaal with Jose Mourinho even after the Portuguese was sacked for his disastrous campaign with Chelsea. He and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward acted over the summer to bolster their squad with players from around the top leagues in Europe. Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived from Paris Saint-Germain, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was signed from Borussia Dortmund, while the club paid in the region of £90m for Paul Pogba. Eric Bailly was signed from Villarreal, but United were unable to lure any of the superstars from the leading La Liga outfits.
The Red Devils have been linked with a move for Gareth Bale before, although no bid has come to fruition. However, the Welshman could be tempted to return to the Premier League should Real Madrid win the Spanish title this season.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are backed in the latest Bet365 La Liga betting odds at 5/4 to win the crown for the first time in four years, and success may convince Bale to move on, having already clinched two Champions League trophies with the club. United would have to part with a huge sum of cash to secure his signature, but if success eludes them again this season they may be willing to pay over £100m to sign Bale. Whether Madrid would be willing to part company with the 26-year-old’s services would be another matter, and that could make life difficult for Mourinho’s men. However, there is another star in the Spanish capital, who appears to be on his way out.
James Rodriguez lit up the 2014 World Cup for Colombia, ending as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals. His performances secured a lucrative move to the Bernabeu in the region of €80m and the midfielder continued his form in his debut season, notching 17 goals in 46 appearances. However, he has fallen out of favour since Zidane has taken the reins and will reportedly be available when the transfer window reopens in January. United lack a playmaking presence in their midfield, despite the arrival of Pogba who has started in a deep role alongside Marouane Felliani.
Rodriguez could play behind Ibrahimovic, Rooney or Rashford in attack, offering a threat through the middle of opposing defences. He could be the missing piece to the puzzle and would also chip with goals from midfield that the club have sorely lacked, in turn easing the pressure on the frontline.The likes of Neymar and Bale will be hard to attract for the Red Devils, considering their lack of Champions League football, although a player of Rodriguez’s calibre would be quite the coup for Mourinho’s men.