David Moyes will present Manchester United with an unprecedented £100million transfer hit-list this summer.
The United manager’s bold statement of the players he wants to restore his team to greatness will test owners the Glazer family’s eagerness to share his ambitions for the club.
Top targets for Moyes are Juventus midfield pair Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, together valued at around £60m and an indication of the United manager’s current anxiety about the part of his team that has consistently failed to produce this season.
Moyes has also earmarked Joel Veltman, of Ajax, and Southampton teenager Luke Shaw as he tries to freshen up an ageing defence.
And he will follow up his long-standing interest in Atletico Madrid’s 25-year-old Brazil international striker Diego Costa.
The list is certain to test United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s ability to wheel and deal.
If Moyes has found it difficult in the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson, Woodward has no less daunting a job to succeed former chief executive David Gill, who, like Fergie, is still very much a presence at Old Trafford.
Woodward’s biggest problem will not be financing the transfers. If United do not finish in the Premier League’s top four this season, Woodward will have to persuade players to give up their Champions League ambitions for at least a year and that will not be easy.
An accountant, Woodward arrived at United after representing the American owners during their successful 2005 takeover. He made his mark as a successful head of commercial operations but Gill’s decision to stand down propelled Woodward into an entirely different role, negotiating with rival club executives and players’ agents. The recent acquisition of £35m Juan Mata from Chelsea was a step in the right direction.
If proof was needed that Moyes intends to be his own man and stand or fall by his ability to make United the best in Europe, it is in his pursuit of Pogba. Still only just 20, the French midfielder was in the Old Trafford youth set-up after switching from Le Havre in controversial circumstances.
But his departure to Juventus in 2012 was even more controversial, especially after Sir Alex had predicted a tremendous future for him. Since then Pogba has blossomed into one of Europe’s top young prospects. United would now have to fork out £30m for someone they let go 18 months ago for nothing.
His Juventus team-mate Vidal, a 26-year-old Chile international, is valued even higher. He joined from Bayer Leverkusen for £10m in 2011 and was voted player of the year after his major role in Juve’s second successive title triumph last season.
Nemanja Vidic’s decision to leave United has heightened Moyes’s need for at least one central defender and Veltman fits the bill.
United were among several clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal at the Ajax-Groningen match on Thursday, when the Holland international played in his team’s 2-1 win.
United also face competition for Shaw and Costa. But the ball will be firmly in Woodward’s court when the transfer treasure hunt begins in earnest. – Mail On Sunday