Manchester United's £50m January Transfer Window: Who Could They Buy?

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MAN UTD SPLASH
PA/Getty

Manchester United manager David Moyes bullishly said, two weeks ago: "I'm now managing a club which is used to getting close to the final stages [of the Champions League] and we'll try to do that again."

Fast-forward two weeks and two Premier League defeats later and the Scot is playing a different tune.

"To win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players," he said. "We've not got that yet."

david moyes

"One midfielder at the very least, please."

And now news emerges that United, whose sole summer signing could have been bought for £4 million less in July, will have money to spend in January after they noticed clubs who have strengthened their squads are above them in the table.

Sir Alex Ferguson annually preached the pitfalls of January spending and looking at his track record it's easy to see why. Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidić suffered severe culture shocks when they arrived in January 2006.

Evra was withdrawn at the interval on his derby debut and Vidić started in the defence which sieved four goals at Blackburn. Later that year they would emerge as integral starters in the first XI and their berths have not been properly challenged since.

Henrik Larsson, an overrated loan arrival, came a year later and Manucho, a 2008 signing, would probably partner Dong Fangzhuo in Ferguson's worst United line-up. Zoran Tosić made five substitute appearances, Ritchie De Laet was a mystifying buy while Chris Smalling and Wilfried Zaha inked pre-contract deals.

Louis Saha is Ferguson's sole mid-point success. The Frenchman scored seven goals in 14 games during United's run-in.

louis saha

Saha scored on his United debut against Southampton

The problem for Moyes is now he has aired his "world-class" line supporters will expect him to target players of that ilk, even though the main issue with this creaking United squad is it lacks plain good players.

Ferguson stressed in the aftermath of Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m sale United had money to spend on world-class players but they have hardly done it. Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, the outstanding buys, were both conveniently into the last years of their contracts. Glazernomics, they call it.

Premium players will have played in the Champions League, which puts any potential marquee bids for Borussia Dortmund's İlkay Gündoğan or Barcelona's Cesc Fàbregas on ice until the summer. Though the Premier League is a more realistic goal for United than Europe.

Here are some realistic winter targets for Moyes...

LEIGHTON BAINES
When Marouane Fellaini was unveiled Moyes was asked if any future deal for Baines is now dead. "I would have to say so, yes," he replied.

leighton baines

Baines has started the season brilliantly for Everton

Baines' continued excellence and Patrice Evra's continued regression might convince him to have a re-think. In regards to that abstract term "world-class", Baines is worthy of it. He has been the best left-back in the Premier League the last two years but will be 29 in January and might have signed a new contract with Everton. Baines did want to move to United in the summer, however.

FABIO COENTRÃO
A younger alternative to Baines, Coentrão still represents a bigger risk. A Premier League novice with a questionable attitude, his defending has deteriorated at Real Madrid.

fabio coentrao

Coentrão started in Madrid's defeat to Atlético on Saturday

However he represents a better fit for Moyes' United than Evra, who the Scot is just not convinced by. United failed with a loan bid for the Portuguese on deadline day but it is feasible they could return with an offer in three months. Coentrão, 25, would be cup-tied for the Champions League knockout stage, though, should United progress that far.

ANDER HERRERA
A good player who will remedy United's midfield malaise, how United fans must wish United met Athletic Bilbao's buy-out clause for the Spaniard.

ander herrera

Herrera could offer some much needed silk to United's midfield

Herrera would offer United some much-needed alacrity and enterprise from central midfield and is keen on the move. Michael Carrick's poor form has returned at the worst possible time for Moyes and United's midfield misery has perhaps worsened despite Fellaini's arrival.

XABI ALONSO
A fanciful prospect and 10 years too late, but Alonso's future at Real Madrid is uncertain in the wake of Asier Illarramendi's arrival and with Luka Modrić poised to secure a first-team berth.

xabi alonso

Alonso is yet to make an appearance this season

Alonso, only 31 but currently out injured, is free to talk to clubs in January since he is in the last year of his contract. Moyes, though, is likely to focus on younger players and Alonso would probably be hesitant about moving to Old Trafford having played for Liverpool for five years.

JUAN MATA
Goodness knows what Mata's situation at Chelsea will be like in the winter but he is one player who should not have to justify his inclusion in José Mourinho's side.

juan mata

Mata is one of the best forwards in the Premier League

Mata is a brilliant No.10 but can also operate from a deeper berth, which would allow Moyes to accommodate him and Wayne Rooney. Chelsea though, would probably want Rooney to move in the opposite direction.