It’s shaping up to be a huge January transfer window for Manchester United, with the club in the midst of a (partial) takeover and the manager under siege.
The Glazers agreed to sell a 25 percent stake in the club to Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS and there’s hope among many fans that funds will be made available to manager Erik ten Hag.
Reports are already circling with regards to some incomings and outgoings we could see at Old Trafford in January, with the window opening for Premier League clubs on New Year’s Day 2024 and staying open until January 31.
However, United’s dismal failure to qualify from their UEFA Champions League group could affect their already tight budget next month, while there is no guarantee Ten Hag will still be in the job when the transfer period begins.
The Sporting News assesses some of the Man United transfer rumours doing the rounds right now, what Ten Hag needs and who could leave the club in the next month or two.
Man United transfer news: January 2024 window targets
Here are a few of the club’s potential January targets, as per reports from the media. We assess each one and their chances of joining United.
United to lean on INEOS link to sign Jean-Clair Todibo from Nice
Todibo, a 23-year-old centre-back, is an obvious link for United given he plays for Nice — the French club who are also owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe. With the Brit taking sporting control of United and likely to appoint many of his own recruitment staff, Todibo could be a target with Ten Hag keen to reshape his defence. Latest reports from Football Insider say United are leading the race for his signature, having been interested in the previous transfer window.
Ronald Araujo a target should he choose to leave Barcelona
Various reports, including from Spanish media outlet Sport, have linked United with Barcelona centre-back Araujo, who could be another player to bolster Ten Hag’s underperforming back four. The Guardian recently claimed United wanted a right-sided centre-back and both Todibo and Araujo, 24, would fit that bill. Bayern Munich are also interested in the player, who ideally wants to stay at Camp Nou.
Goalscoring woes could lead to Ivan Toney battle with Arsenal, Chelsea
Another position on that Guardian list is a striker, as it’s clear United need to take some workload off Rasmus Hojlund up front after missing out on Harry Kane in the summer. Toney hasn’t played this season for Brentford as he’s banned for breaching FA betting rules, but according to the Daily Mail, he’s a target for United in January, when he becomes available to play again. Arsenal have also been linked, along with Chelsea.
Serhou Guirassy a more left-field choice in attack
Another striker and this could be one that seriously boosts Ten Hag’s options, with Guirassy, 27, in red-hot form for Vfb Stuttgart this season, netting 14 league goals already. Sky Germany claim the forward would be available for a reduced price in January and that the player is open to such a move.
Shock move for Kalvin Phillips mooted
Now onto one of the main midfield links, although as a former Leeds United star and a current Manchester City player, it would be a shock if Phillips made the switch to Old Trafford. He does, however, need a mid-season move to reignite a career that has stalled at the Etihad Stadium and, with City ready to sell, The Sun claims United will attempt a stunning January swoop.
United are linked with new players almost daily, such is their huge profile in the media, with those touted for a possible move ranging from Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, oft-linked midfielder Adrien Rabiot, RB Leipzig’s former Chelsea forward Timo Werner and a number of others. Most of these moves, as it stands, are very unlikely to happen.
🚨🚨🌕| #mufc will listen to offers for several players in the January transfer window. United are open to selling Raphael Varane, Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek. [@samuelluckhurst] pic.twitter.com/cqeENkunJt
— centredevils. (@centredevils) December 11, 2023
Which positions do Manchester United need to sign in January?
It’s clear that United’s troubles this season have largely been in central defence and central midfield, with a number of injuries taking their toll in such areas. Both Raphael Varane and Casemiro have endured their injury travails at times, but even when fit there are question marks over the former Real Madrid duo.
United struggle to dominate games with possession, with an over-reliance on previously unfancied Scott McTominay to score the goals for Ten Hag’s side. There’s plenty of promise in young midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, but another controlling midfielder would be ideal, with summer signing Mason Mount injury prone and not really fitting that bill while loanee Sofyan Amrabat is proving inconsistent.
🗣️ “It’s not just a case of – like with some of the other managers – where it’s been a little bit toxic at times”
Scott McTominay says the Man Utd players are “firmly behind” manager Erik ten Hag 🔴 pic.twitter.com/HZVaPeqAv0
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 11, 2023
Another striker would be ideal in January, with Hojlund in need of support, but such a signing would be expensive. United would get a cash injection from new part-owner Ratcliffe but still have to meet Financial Fair Play restrictions — something that will now be more difficult following their Champions League exit.
As stated in the Guardian report regarding would-be United signings in January, there’s an acceptance around the club that signing all four required positions — two midfielders, a striker and a centre-back — would be “far from straightforward”.
Who could leave Manchester United in January?
Jadon Sancho is top of the list of players likely to depart the club in January. The former Borussia Dortmund winger has been in exile ever since his public spat with Ten Hag following the player’s non-selection for the trip to Arsenal in September.
Recent reports have claimed United are open to offers for Sancho, who hasn’t even trained with the first team since that fallout, let alone be made available for selection. He hasn’t apologised to Ten Hag for the incident, which is why the manager has removed him from consideration.
It looks like the first confirmed departure will not be Sancho, though, but Donny van de Beek. The forgotten midfielder has, according to Fabrizio Romano, agreed to a loan move to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. The German club will apparently pay a loan fee for the former Ajax man, while the deal includes a buy option of €15 million (£12.9m/$16.4m). This clause is not compulsory, however.
United, too, could look to offload Raphael Varane and Casemiro, who both struggle to stay fit consistently and are now the wrong side of 30. There would likely be interest in both players, but their wages are hefty and difficult for many clubs to afford.
Many fans would also prefer to see the back of Anthony Martial, whose contract expires at the end of the season, with the club reluctant to extend it. The Frenchman has been at United since 2015 and has largely proved underwhelming, especially this season as a backup to Hojlund.
Loans could be sought for Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire.