Last year, Sir Alex Ferguson was devising a plan to battle the European dominance imposed by Barcelona. Now the United boss has a problem far closer to home. Newly crowned Premier League Champions Manchester City pose a real long-term threat to the hierarchy of English football. How will Ferguson and the red side of Manchester respond?
Their bid to reclaim the Premier League title next season will require some new signings. After a season of battling injuries and squad rotation, fresh faces would strengthen the challenge from Old Trafford. Here's some of Ferguson's top targets for this summer.
Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund. The 23-year-old Japanese midfielder leads the line of potential Manchester United recruits, having already had a meeting with Alex Ferguson. Kagawa scored 13 goals in 31 games for Borussia Dortmund, helping them secure another league title, finishing the season eight points ahead of Bayern Munich. Young, creative and affordable; Kagawa would be a perfect addition to the United midfield.
Wesley Sneijder – Inter Milan. Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign the 27-year-old Dutch midfielder last year, and is expected to go back in for the creative maestro this summer. The former Real Madrid man is seen as the ideal replacement for Paul Scholes, and is unlikely to escape Ferguson's relentless pursuit. Inter Milan have missed out on a Champions League spot after a poor season in Serie A, making a move more favourable.
Nicolas Gaitan – Benfica. If reports are to be believed, we could see Benfica's Nicolas Gaitan in a Manchester United shirt next season. United have been tracking the 24-year-old Argentine international for some time now and are understood to have made their move for a summer transfer. His talent as an attacking midfielder of left sided winger has attracted attention from Europe's top clubs, with United now in poll position.
Mathieu Debuchy – Lille. Sir Alex Ferguson travelled to France to see Lille right back Mathieu Debuchy in action against Lyon in March. The French international is one of Ferguson's top defensive transfer targets, after enjoying a a fine campaign for Lille ahead of an expected call-up to France's Euro 2012 squad. The attacking wing-back would be an upgrade to United's stuttering defence while offering more stability in a position that has seen a lot of rotation.
Christian Eriksen – Ajax. The promising Ajax winger remains a real possibility for Sir Alex Ferguson's side. The highly rated Danish midfielder has developed into one of Europe's most exciting young play-makers after being schooled in the renowned traditions of Ajax. With United locked in an intense battle with Manchester City for Eden Hazard's signature, Eriksen could be a viable alternative at just 20-years-old.
Luka Modric – Tottenham Hotspur. He's been at the centre of a long-running Premier League transfer saga, but Luka Modric could finally be set to leave Spurs this summer. The Croatian is on Ferguson's shortlist and would be the perfect creative player to re-ignite his midfield. Tottenham would be after a big-money move but with their Champions League place still in the balance, they could face a highly defiant Modric after the Euro's.
Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund. The Polish striker has caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson after scoring 30 goals in 47 games in a break-through season with Borussia Dortmund. Lewandowski did all he could to impress the Manchester United boss in the DFB-Pokal final, netting a hat-trick against Bayern Munich as Ferguson watched on from the stands. With Dimitar Berbatov set for the United exit, the Pole would fit in nicely - although he would come with a hefty price-tag.
Eden Hazard – Lille. After admitting to being Manchester-bound next season, the football world is desperate to know which of the top two Premier League clubs has secured the signature of one of Europe's best attacking talents. At only 21, Hazard would be an exceptional addition to either side. United would welcome a player to help relieve the goal burden from Wayne Rooney, while he would undoubtedly fit in with City's Hollywood cast!
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