Manchester United fans will be really pleased with the way their side have gone on a run of 17 games unbeaten in all competitions in recent months. Although there is a lot of work to do from the Reds if they are to finish in the top four this season, they are in a much better position to pounce than they were early in the campaign.
United fans have many reasons to be hopeful at the moment. They have the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Hull to look forward to where they have a 2-0 advantage going into that tie. They should be able to reach the final of that competition where they could be facing rivals Liverpool at Wembley. Reports suggest the club are close to agreeing on a deal with Atletico Madrid for Antoine Griezmann to make the transfer across to Old Trafford in the summer, while Mourinho is making real progress in rebuilding a squad that can be competitive in the Premier League.
One of the key reasons to United’s recovery this season has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as you can see from the Oddschecker insight page on the player. Despite being 35 years old, the former Sweden international has scored some crucial goals for the club in the campaign so far. His quality in the final third of the pitch was something United missed last season – so Mourinho will be delighted with his contribution.
Paul Pogba is also starting to settle back into the Premier League following his move from Juventus in the summer. The Frenchman made a slow start to the season but it now really making an impact on the games.
With the January transfer window being the last opportunity for clubs to improve their squads this season, here are five players Mourinho may look to sign this month to give his squad the quality and depth required to finish in the top four.
The one area of his team Mourinho will be looking to improve as a priority will be the centre of his defence. The common theme in all of the Portuguese man’s successful teams over the years has been a rock-solid partnership in the middle of his back four.
Victor Lindelof is only 22 years old and is a growing a reputation as being of the most highly regarded young defenders in Europe. The Benfica player has already picked up 11 caps for Sweden where he is now a regular starter for the senior team following some impressive displays for his club.
Lindelof has won two league championships with Benfica since joining the club in 2012 from Vasteras SK. He has Champions League experience with the Portuguese champions and is thought to be keen on a switch to Old Trafford.
Eyebrows were raised at the weekend when Goncalo Guedes was left out of the Benfica squad for their Primeira Liga game against Tondela. The 20-year-old is likely to move away from Benfica this month and Man United are one of a number of clubs who have been linked with the player for £25 million.
Despite his young age, Guedes has already made 68 appearances for Benfica where he has been part of their title-winning sides over the last couple of years. The winger broke into the Portugal national team in 2015 where he has featured for his country twice. He did not travel to France for Euro 2016 but it thought to have a big future for Portugal.
Guedea scored his first Champions League goal against Atletico Madrid last season. A number of scouts for leading European clubs have been watching him since then and it may be a case of who bids the most this month for the services of the player.
Ajax have a great history of producing quality players from their youth system and 19-year-old Kasper Dolberg may be the latest talent from that conveyor belt. The Dane made his debut for Dutch side earlier this season and has gone on to score 11 goals so far this season in a breakthrough campaign.
Three of Dolberg’s goals have come in the Europa League where Ajax are through to the knockout stages after topping Group G which included Celta Vigo, Standard Liege and Panathinaikos. They will now meet Legia Warsaw in the next round where they may have to face the Polish outfit without Dolberg if he is sold this month.
Not only do United have competition from Everton and Manchester City in the Premier League for the services of the teenager, Borussia Dortmund also thought to be very keen on the Denmark international.
If Dortmund can no longer hang on to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they may see Dolberg as the perfect replacement. Therefore, they will be prepared to put in a substantial bid for Ajax man.
Antoine Griezmann is not the only Atletico Madrid forward Mourinho has on his radar at the moment. Yannick Carrasco is also thought to be high on his shortlist. The 23-year-old was signed from Monaco in 2015 and he helped the Spanish club reach the Champions League final last season where they were beaten by Real Madrid on penalties. Carrasco equalised in the 79th minute to force the game into extra-time before his side went down in the shoot-out.
Carrasco is an orthodox winger with bags of pace down the wing. He is a regular with the Belgium national team, who he represented at Euro 2016, scoring in their 4-0 victory over Hungary in the last 16 of the competition.
The Belgian has already reached double figures in goals for the season. He scored his first hat-trick against Granada back in October when Atletico ran out 7-1 winners.
Like Griezmann, Carrasco is thought to have a £86 million release clause, therefore if United trigger that there will be nothing Atletico can do to stop the approach. Mourinho may have to make the move this month as Bayern Munich and Juventus are both are interested in the player’s signature and his hefty transfer fee is unlikely to put them off.
Benfica’s full-back Nelson Semedo has attracted a number of scouts from the Premier League in recent weeks following some strong performances for his club side in the Portuguese league.
United are likely to lose Luke Shaw this month or in the summer. Therefore Mourinho will be looking to strengthen his squad with another full-back as that is an area United are currently short in.
Semedo has already been capped by Portugal. He played for the senior team in 2015 against Serbia in a Euro 2016 qualifying match where his country won 2-1.
The biggest challengers to United for Semedo may be Chelsea. Although the Blues are flying high at the top of the Premier League and reaping the rewards of manager Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, the Italian is thought to see the full-back as a great fit to his system.
Semedo is an attacking full- back who likely to advance forward up the pitch. He has scored 12 goals since turning professional, including in the Champions League this season in Benfica’s 3-3 draw against Besiktas in Turkey.
Jose Mourinho won’t panic if deals can’t be made
Although Mourinho will want to do some business over the next seven days, the United boss will not panic-buy and is only likely to spend if he feels the player he is bringing in has a long-term future at Old Trafford.
If the money made off the transfers off Depay and Scheniderlin can’t be spent this month, Mourinho will likely save it for the summer where United are once again likely to focus on some big names to go with the transfers of Ibrahimovic and Pogba last year.