Manchester United chiefs have drawn up a list of transfer targets to chase in 2015 that features up to 12 top-class players, according to ESPN.
Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal has been at pains to play down speculation linking him with the likes of Kevin Strootman, Mats Hummels and Diego Godin since the January window opened, insisting that he's unlikely to do business until the end of the season.
Van Gaal will soon change his mind if any of the men on United's dream dozen signings are genuinely available though, with work ongoing behind the scenes to improve a squad that has to secure Champions League qualification this season as a minimum target.
Centre-back a top priority?
United are most desperate to strengthen in two key areas, with central defence the most pressing concern. Injuries to experienced figures have forced Van Gaal to use a number of inexperienced youngsters so far this season, including Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett.
Those two have performed admirably but in a 3-5-2 formation which requires leadership and stability at the heart of defence the Red Devils still desperately need a new leader, with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand still not replaced.
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Sales not an option in January
Van Gaal has effectively accepted that he can't carry out the kind of extensive cosmetic surgery he'd like in the middle of a testing campaign, with wholesale changes on hold until the end of this season at the very earliest.
In the short-term United would still like to add quality, but it won't be at the expense of any player currently in their first-team squad. Van Gaal has ruled out player sales in January, insisting that if anything they need further improvements to guarantee a top-four finish rather than outgoings.
That means Adnan Januzaj for example must continue to wait patiently for first-team opportunities, even if loan offers do materialise over the next fortnight.
Van Gaal is ultimately prepared to be patient if it means he can eventually bring the likes of Hummels and Kevin Strootman to the Theatre of Dreams, but United will strike quickly and pay a premium if the status of their top transfer targets does take a sudden turn between now and February 3rd.
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