Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has given his first indication as to where his priorities lie in the January transfer window. The Dutchman wants "speed and creativity" on the wings and is after someone who can offer something slightly different than Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, who have occupied the role on the right this season.
Van Gaal acknowledged "not a lot of players I want are for sale", but that is unlikely to stop him and Ed Woodward from trying. Who could United's executive vice-chairman realistically pursue in the coming months? IBTimesUK considers the options.
Sadio Mane – Southampton
The Senegal winger was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford after the club abandoned their attempts to sign Pedro from Barcelona during the summer window. As reported by the Daily Mail at the time, United tested Southampton's resolve with a bid of £15m ($22.6m), but having suffered eight high-profile exits over the last two summers, Saints resisted. Club chairman Ralph Kruger recently explained at the Leaders in Sport Business Summit that as long as the club remain outside the league's elite, they will inevitably see their players targeted by the likes of United. The 23-year-old possesses the pace and invention Van Gaal desires, while he would come with the added bonus of being a ready-made goalscorer at Premier League level.
Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City
The Algeria international has been one of the best players of the season so far. Alongside Jamie Vardy, the 24-year-old has been the catalyst to Leicester City's sublime 2015-16 campaign, scoring seven goals and laying on five assists. Foxes' manager Claudio Ranieri has welcomed such interest in his players, recognising the inevitable transfer reports as a testament to how far the club have come this season. Mahrez, who cost the club £400k in January 2014, has shown the sort of trickery and invention that has been so absent from United's game this season, but as of yet, United are yet to make their move. "I don't have any contact with Manchester United about Mahrez," his agent Kamel Bengougam told ESPN FC. "He is only focused on this season with Leicester City."
Felipe Anderson - Lazio
The 22-year-old Brazilian is another whose links with a move to Untied extend back to the summer. The former Santos player had a key role to play in Lazio's Champions League qualification last season, but the Serie A giants missed the opportunity to join Europe's elite in the knock out stages of the competition after a play-off defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. That leaves the lightening-quick Anderson free to play in the competition with another side this season; a telling incentive for any prospective buyers.
Andriy Yarmolenko – Dynamo Kiev
The 26-year-old has been persistently linked with a move to Chelsea in recent weeks, with Spanish newspapers Sport and AS recently reporting under-pressure boss Jose Mourinho made a personal scouting trip to watch over the winger in a European Championship qualifier between Spain and Ukraine. Yarmolenko would certainly represent an affordable option for Van Gaal's side, while Dynamo Kiev manager Sergei Rebrov has already admitted he will be powerless to stop the player leaving should the club president feel an offer is right. His participation in this season's Champions League group stages could be a deterrent, however, if the United boss is looking for someone to come straight into his European plans.