Manchester United supporters have voted on the player they would most like to sign this summer and there is a very clear winner.
Manchester United spent close to £150m on just three players last summer, plus the free signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and are set for another big spree in the transfer market at the end of this season as Jose Mourinho looks to turn an already good squad into a great squad.
As is usually the way, countless players in numerous positions have been linked with moves to Old Trafford with varying degrees of believability and accuracy. It is always the attacking players that command the most excitement, though, but who do the fans want most?
Responding to a 90min poll asking which of a selection of rumoured transfer targets they most want to see in a United shirt next season, 40,611 supporters made their voice heard.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann was the choice for nearly half (47%) of those who voted. The French international has been the main name on people’s lips for many months now and is widely seen as the club’s primary target.
Griezmann’s close friendship with Paul Pogba, his brother Theo’s mad support of United and his own personal idolisation of Old Trafford legend David Beckham all add up to point towards a potential move, while his £85m release clause is certainly seen as affordable by the club.
The 26-year-old was the obvious choice. What is arguably more interesting is how fans value the other options on offer. It was Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, for example, who was the second choice for supporters with 15% of the vote.
The prolific Pole has only been linked with United sparingly and speculatively and would have to directly compete with Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a place in the team. Perhaps those who voted for Lewandowski fear that Zlatan won’t extend his contract and will soon be gone, leaving the club looking for a new number nine ahead of next season.
Next was former Old Trafford favourite Javier Hernandez with 14% of the vote. The Mexican left United in 2015 after being deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal, only for Mourinho to recently declare that he personally would never have sold him, and that ‘Chicharito’ would have scored “20 goals easy” this season in the current United team.
There haven’t been rumours of any firm substance regarding a return for Hernandez, but Mourinho’s comments spread over the space of a couple of weeks have certainly added plenty of intrigue to the idea.
Rather oddly, United fans don’t seem to be that keen on Alexis Sanchez. The Arsenal superstar and PFA nominee took only 13% of the vote, despite his obvious proven Premier League quality. What’s more, there’s a chance the Chilean will be available this summer at half the prize of Griezmann, while he’s only two years older.
With United having enjoyed great success after snatching Robin van Persie from the Gunners in the past, Sanchez would make an interesting target. Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea would be considered favourites for his signature, though, if he is to leave Arsenal at all.
James Rodriguez is a player who has constantly been linked with United over the last couple of years. In Jorge Mendes, the Colombian actually shares an agent with Mourinho. The rumours about him have always had that element of the agent feeding the speculation, though, and it appears United fans have been able to easily see through it as James was the choice for just 7% of fans voting in this poll.
Inter Milan and Croatia winger Ivan Perisic took even less of the vote at 4%. The speculation surrounding a move for him began when Mourinho was seen to be visiting Croatia during the last international break, with some news outlets suggesting that sealing a deal for Perisic, who impressed at Euro 2016 last summer, was the purpose of the trip.
Mourinho quickly denied the stories, stating that he was merely in the country to visit friends.
By Jamie Spencer