Manchester United Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of February 24
As Champions League football returns this week, the stark reality dawns. Manchester United fans may have to spend a season without hearing the sweet sounds of people singing "The Champions" in a variety of European languages at their home ground.
In order to prevent this happening a second time the season after, David Moyes and Ed Woodward will be on the lookout for those players who can fill the gaps in United's squad and close the gap to United's rivals.
Let's have a look and see who the good people of football journalism say United will be after in the summer.
Check back throughout the week for updates!
Updated Sunday 2nd March 2014.
Toni Kroos on the Cards?
Yesterday, Ilkay Gundogan (per The Mirror), today Toni Kroos, it is German midfielders rumour central at Old Trafford at the moment.
The player who put in a remarkably Paul Scholes-esque performance against Arsenal last week has been linked with United for a while.
The Daily Mirror are running with the story that United are prepared to pay Kroos £250,000 per week to tempt him away from Bayern.
Whether that will be enough to attract Kroos away from playing for his boyhood club, the current European champions, managed by one of the finest managers in the world in whose team he plays a central role, remains to be seen.
If it is, headline writers will rejoice. After the initial “Toni Kroo$,” a fine performance will surely see the delights of “Kroos Control” follow.
More of a long shot is that upon finding out that Wayne Rooney has played a practical joke on his hypothetical new team-mate, we will be greeted with the headline “Kroos Rues Roo's Ruse.”
If wishing made it so.
Alex Song on United's Radar?
United's history of pursuing former Arsenal midfielders currently plying their trade at Barcelona is less than stellar, but Alex Song is not as central to Barcelona as Cesc Fabregas.
Another man whose surname is a gift to headline writers, Song has a history of providing assists for Robin Van Persie which will be welcome should this one come to fruition.
Nani's Italian Suitors
Nani has been an increasingly peripheral figure at Manchester United for the past couple of seasons.
Italian football website Forza Italia are reporting that in addition to the Tuttosport rumour of Juventus' interest, AC Milan might be interested in adding the mercurial winger to their collection of talented forward players.
With a figure of £9.6 million mentioned, Nani may be part of an exodus which certainly includes Nemanja Vidic, and might well include Patrice Evra, also linked by Forza Italia to Juventus.
Roma Defender Mehdi Benatia 'Top Priority'?
The Moroccan defender has been part of a unit that has been the meanest in Serie A this season, conceding only 11 goals in 24 games.
The Moroccan is apparently seen as a suitable replacement for the outbound Nemanja Vidic.
The Stretford End may be asking themselves "What rhymes with 'He comes from Morrocoo...'"
Barcelona After Eliaquim Mangala?
The Daily Star are reporting that Barcelona have joined the race to sign Porto's impressive centre-half.
The rumour suggests United are far from the only game in town competing for Eliaquim Mangala's signature. Quite literally not the only game in town given Manchester City are also apparently interested. Jose Mourinho's Chelsea are said to be in the mix too.
The departure of Nemanja Vidic in the summer means that a new central defender is vital for United, but it is clear that Mangala has many suitors. The Star's report values Mangala at approximately £40 million.
It will be intriguing to see who is prepared to spend the money for his services.
Robin Van Persie to Leave in Summer?
United Interested in Former City Player Stefan Savic?
Tuttosport are reporting that former Manchester City defender Stefan Savic is a "surprise" target for David Moyes and Manchester United. (h/t The Daily Mirror)
Those who saw him play at Manchester City may indeed find this to be a "surprise," but according to the report, Savic's performances at Fiorentina have seen him rebuild his reputation.
With Nemanja Vidic leaving in the summer, Savic is unlikely to be the only centre half United are linked with between now and the end of August.
David Moyes Takes Scouting Trip to Watch Matthias Ginter
The Daily Mail are reporting that David Moyes took advantage of United's free weekend to spend some time watching German football.
Apparently in attendance at Freiburg vs. Hertha Berlin, Moyes is said to have been "running the rule" over Freiburg's 20 year old centre half Matthias Ginter.
Given that United have been linked with a number of expensive targets this summer, it would perhaps not be a surprise to see them look to add a promising young player, available at an apparently reasonable price, to the cast of top tier talent they are seeking to attract to Old Trafford.
Louis Van Gaal and Frank De Boer Lined Up to Replace Moyes?
With speculation around David Moyes' future at Manchester United having increased in the wake of the defeat to Olympiakos earlier in the week, the Mirror are reporting that the managerial team of Louis van Gaal and Frank de Boer are being lined up as potential replacements, should Moyes' tenure come to an end in the summer.
Having won leagues in Holland, Spain and most recently Germany, van Gaal's CV is impressive enough to warrant consideration.
Would the arrival of LVG and FDB cheer up RVP? That is, of course, purely a matter for speculation...