Every day we are bombarded with Van Gaal news about transfers that are done, being done, stalled, snubbed or just plain fantasy. It is not always easy at this time to decipher which are the genuine stories and which are basically the figment of a desperate hack!
It is worth looking at past experience when trying to work out the real targets from all the false Van Gaal news stories, so I have tried to set out what I know and what I believe to be the real targets.
We need to understand the positions where Manchester United need desperately to recruit. We know that they need a left back . We know that they need a box-to-box midfielder in the Roy Keane mould as well as a holding midfielder. They also need a creative midfielder. Having decided on the positions we now need to look at the players likely to fit into the Van Gaal way of playing.
It is widely accepted that Luke Shaw is a done deal at left back; in fact MUTV has actually as good as said so live on their in-house programme. Van Gaal also seems keen on William Carvalho, although he is a defensive midfielder, currently at Sporting Lisbon. This is likely a direct replacement for Marouane Fellaini who will be sold for as little as £15m. Carvalho is only 22, which fits the Van Gaal mode, yet even at such a young age, he has played through all the various international levels for his country, currently playing for the full national team. It is worth mentioning here that Van Gaal could also target his fellow Dutchman, Kevin Strootman, who is currently recuperating from a bad knee injury. Strootman is a tough-tackling midfielder, possessing good vision and balance on the ball. He is a physical, tactically strong midfielder best used as a central midfielder, often serving as a box-to-box midfielder or a deep-lying playmaker. However that deal may have to wait until January.
Manchester United`s biggest transfer of the summer could well be the resurrected deal for Cesc Fabregas. Whilst this was something of a pipe dream last year, this time around, Barcelona are actively seeking to offload up to seven players, with Fabregas being one of them. An offer in the region of £40m will be required. There has been talk in the media about Arsenal having a `first refusal` arrangement with Fabregas, but evidently that has now expired according to the usually well-informed Guillem Balagué, Sky Sports La Liga expert. Whether this will impinge on Mata, Kagawa or even Rooney in the number 10 position remains to be a problem for Van Gaal, unless they are prepared to lose one of them this summer to accommodate Fabregas.
As always with Van Gaal, there will be a plan B and in this case, it could be a move for Jordy Clasie, the Dutch youngster now playing in the national team at the World Cup, who has burst onto the scene and impressed the Netherlands boss. It may prove a lot easier to prise away Clasie from Feyenoord and a lot cheaper too!
So Van Gaal`s top four signings will be Luke Shaw, Carvalho, Strootman and Fabregas, with the plan B of Clasie should the Fabregas deal not happen. There is still to be any indication of how Van Gaal will view the central defence situation with Jones, Smalling and Johnny Evans all vying for the two positions. With a fabled warchest of £200m to spend, Van Gaal may look for a more experienced centre back to pair up with any one of the three aforementioned.
Manchester United fans are desperate for some news from Old Trafford, but it is probable that after last summer`s Keystone Cops transfer debacle, they will be keeping their cards close to their chests.