The Wesley Sneijder-Manchester United transfer saga was one that lasted the entirety of the summer window.
While Sir Alex Ferguson said many times that the Red Devils weren’t chasing the playmaker, Sneijder and Inter Milan thought differently, with both insisting that preliminary talks at least took place over a move.
But Sneijder’s wages, thought to be in the vicinity of £200,000 a week with Italian tax breaks, was reportedly a major stumbling block for Ferguson, and despite rumours speculating a last minute deal, the manager was conspicuously quiet as the clock struck 11pm on August 31st.
But United fans needn’t worry, because with four months until January, Ferguson is thought to have his eye on at least five potential playmakers that will be cheaper than £35 million Sneijder, and still able to deliver the goods.
1. Nicolas Gaitan
The Benfica star has been on Ferguson’s wishlist for quite some time, and after he scored against United in the Champions League, the club are said to be considering a January deal.
A bid of around £25 million is said to be needed to secure Gaitan, and while Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are also keeping tabs on the 23-year-old, United see him as a long-term Paul Scholes replacement.
2. Mario Gotze
While Gotze is currently favoured to go to Real Madrid and join German teammates Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, United are still in the race for the 19-year-old.
Gotze has scored eight goals in 44 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, and has 10 international caps under his belt. At such a young age, every club in Europe is watching the star, but the £30 million price tag puts big clubs United and Madrid in the front line to land Gotze.
3. Paulo Henrique Ganso
The Santos playmaker would again be a cheaper option than Sneijder for United, with Ganso a long-standing target for Ferguson. Ganso has been compared to Kaka on occasion, and is said to be worth £25 million.
Ferguson has reportedly sent scouts on many occasions to watch the 22-year-old, and in January a bid may be on the cards as the Red Devils manager looks for reinforcements in the midfield.
4. Luka Modric
The Tottenham man will still no doubt be on Ferguson’s radar, with Chelsea admitting they won’t be chasing Modric in the January transfer window.
Modric has been on fire for Spurs so far this season, and if come January he still wants to leave, United may make an early bid to give Harry Redknapp time to find a replacement.
Modric is worth around £40 million, judging by Chelsea’s last offer for the star on deadline day, but won’t have the same wage demands as Sneijder, making him a much more affordable option.
5. Riccardo Montolivo
Montolivo is looking likely to leave Fiorentina in the next transfer window, after the 26-year-old refused to sign a contract with the Serie A side. And the midfielder will likely go to a foreign club, with Fiorentina not wanting him to end up at a rival side.
United reportedly sent scouts to watch the star in action against Northern Ireland last night, and were impressed with what they saw. Come January, the Italy international will be hot property and Ferguson will be in the mix for his signature.