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Manchester United

Manchester United summer transfer targets July 2012

After a disappointing season, Sir Alex Ferguson has been quick to make his mark in the transfer market.

Having missed out on his number one target, Eden Hazard, the United manager quickly moved for Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa and Crewe youngster Nick Powell.

I’m fairly confident Sir Alex won’t stop there. Personally I’d expect to see one or two further additions to the squad before the start of the new premier league campaign.

United have recently been associated with a vast number of players, here’s a look at who’s been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent days.

Lucas Moura

Lucas is the most recent player the Red Devils have been linked with, Ferguson is reportedly keen to bring the 19 year old Brazil International to the club. According to various sources, including the Daily Mirror, United have already had a £30 million bid rejected for the player.

Lucas currently plays as an attacking midfielder for his club side Santos.

Brazil has always been known for bringing through excellent young players and, in Lucas, they have another starlet ready to step into the shoes of the greats.

Playing in the youth teams of Brazilian sides Juventus and Corinthians, he joined Sao Paulo in 2005 and started to work his way through the ranks before making waves at the 2010 Copinha – an Under-18 tournament before the Brazilian season – where he helped his side to the title.

Promoted to the first-team, Lucas slowly cemented his place in the side and by the end of his first season he had landed 25 appearances and scored four goals, while his performances had seen him lauded as the next big thing.

He was called up to the Brazil squad for the 2011 South American Under-20 tournament and impressed on the way to the title, soon earning a senior-team bow on March 3, 2011 in a friendly against Scotland.

With his place in Brazil’s midfield secured, his displays for his club continued to attract the attention of Europe’s elite and Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan all tried to sign him with the next step in his progression surely not far away.

Strengths: His decision-making is impressive, while tactically, he is also very intelligent, and understands the game well. An excellent technical midfielder.

Weaknesses: Can get frustrated and his temperament can be called into question.

Career high: He starred in the 2011 South American Under-20 tournament and netted a hat-trick in the final against Uruguay.

Style: Technical, confident, classy, a fine attacking midfielder.

Robin Van Persie

According to the Daily Mirror, Ferguson is confident in signing Van Persie from Arsenal following the striker’s refusal to sign a new contract with his current club.

However if the speculation proves true, Sir Alex will find himself locked in a battle with city rival Roberto Mancini for the Dutchman’s signature.

With Berbatov supposedly on his way out of the Manchester club, Van Persie could be the perfect player to replace the Bulgarian.

Little was known about Robin van Persie when he came onto Arsene Wenger’s radar in 2004, but he has emerged into one of the best strikers in the world for club and country.

A young forward with Feyenoord, Van Persie had only been playing in the Eredivisie club’s first-team for a couple of seasons before opting to move to London for a paltry £2.75 million. Wenger transformed him from a left-winger to a forward and the result was impressive.

Handed his international debut with Netherlands in the summer of 2005, by the time the 2006 World Cup came around, Van Persie had forced his way into the Dutch first team. Initially injuries plagued his time with Arsenal, though his disciplinary problems abated, and his breakthrough came the season after his decent showing at Euro 2008 when he was named the club’s player of the season after scoring 20 goals in 44 appearances.

But just as he was drawing comparisons with some of the best strikers in Europe after operating as the central striker in Arsenal’s 4-3-3 formation, Van Persie suffered a serious injury in a friendly international against Italy in November 2009 that ruled him out for five months. Battling back once more, he helped to lead Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup and his form in 2011-12 as club captain was among the best in the world as he smashed 26 league goals. However, come the end of the season, RVP announced that he would not be signing a new contract with the club and wanted to move on.

Strengths: With pace and skill in abundance, this forward can change a game in an instant with his ability to achieve the improbable. He is technically excellent with the vision to unlock a defence too.

Weaknesses: His injury problems have been well documented, and perhaps sometimes he takes the difficult option when a simple pass would suffice. Not great in the air and there have also been question marks over his temperament.

Career high: He started every match at the 2010 World Cup including the final, and the season after set goal scoring records for Arsenal.

Style: Skilful, technical, precise, a potent striker with a delicate touch.

Christian Eriksen

A fine young midfield prospect, Eriksen learnt his trade with Ajax and has been tipped for greatness with the Manchester United reportedly monitoring his progress.

Reportedly Eriksen has asked his current club Ajax if United are one of the two clubs after his signature. The 20 year old is hopeful that United will rival the Russian champions for his signature, given Sir Alex Ferguson’s outspoken admiration of him in the past.

Ferguson was impressed by the playmaker’s performances against United in last season’s Europa League and could be tempted to make an offer to bolster his midfield options.

Eriksen began his development in the game when he switched to Odense Boldklub in 2005. There he won the Danish youth championships before deciding to join Dutch club Ajax in 2008. The famed academy in Amsterdam ensured that his talent would not be wasted and he was soon promoted to the first-team where he starred.

Running the game as a traditional No. 10, he slotted easily into the Ajax set-up and his breakthrough season came in 2010-11. Impressing all with his calm composure on the ball, scoring the occasional goal and setting up plenty of others, many have tipped him to emerge as a star of the Danish national side for many years to come after he was the youngest player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Strengths: Comfortable on the ball and has a great range of passing.

Weaknesses: Because of his size, he can be knocked off the ball and tends to drift in and out of games occasionally.

Career high: Winning the Dutch title in 2010-11 for the first time. He was named Dutch Football Talent of the Year, as well as Danish Football Player of the Year.

Style: Creative, tricky, balanced, a visionary midfielder.

Leighton Baines

Since before Euro 2012, Baines has been linked with a move to Old Trafford. He’s seen by the fans as the ideal replacement for the ageing Patrice Evra.

United have been linked with Baines for most of the summer, although, as yet, it is not believed they have made a bid for the 27-year-old.

Leighton Baines joined Everton just a few days before the start of the 2007/08 season.

An attacking and tenacious left-back, Baines was a vital player for both his club and country, playing all England’s games in the 2007 European under 21 Championships.

He missed the first few games of the 2007/08 season through injury and once he returned he shared left-back duties with Joleon Lescott and Nuno Valente.

The following season was Baines’ best yet as he made the left-back position his own with a string of excellent performances which saw him included in Fabio Capello’s England squad for the qualifier against Ukraine in April.

On May 14, Baines was part of England head coach Fabio Capello’s 30-man provisional squad to travel to the pre-World Cup training camp in Austria. But despite playing in both of England’s pre-tournament warm-up games, Baines lost out to Aston Villa defender Stephen Warnock for a place in the final 23 man squad.

In the 2010/11 campaign Baines proved to be one of Everton’s most consistent performers, and also weighed in with a few goals, 7 in total. He capped a fine season by winning player, players’ player and goal of the season at the Everton end of season awards and was most pundits’ choice at left back when they named their team of the season.

Baines continued to be an integral part of Everton’s side the following season and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2011/12.

Strengths: Great at crossing, key passes, set-pieces and maintains concentration well

Weaknesses: Baines doesn’t possess any real weaknesses; potentially his size reduces his ability in the air.

Career High: Winning his first cap for England under Fabio Capello in March 2009, making his full international debut against Egypt at Wembley Stadium.

Style: Loves to cross and dribble with the ball