Manchester United could very well have as quiet a deadline day as possible before the January transfer window slams shut for Premier League clubs at 11pm. But Erik ten Hag may have gone to bed last night dreaming of not just tonight’s trip to Wolves but also a surprise, last-gasp push for reinforcements.
It’s been a busy 31 days at Old Trafford. Well, for a month featuring just three games, and one against Premier League opposition, that is.
Ten Hag has overseen 11 departures since the turn of the New Year, all of which were loans apart from Mateo Mejia’s permanent switch to Sevilla.
Among the senior exits, the banished Jadon Sancho found an escape route and returned to Borussia Dortmund on a straight loan. Facundo Pellistri completed a straight loan to Granada last night.
However, Donny van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and Alvaro Fernandez all have buy-out clauses in their loan deals, pointing their futures away from United.
Ten Hag has been crying out for attacking reinforcements, though, and there was a sense of confidence at the start of the month that United would recruit another Wout Weghorst or Odion Ighalo.
That player hasn’t arrived, leaving 20-year-old Rasmus Hojlund as Ten Hag’s sole natural striker, a situation he admits is not ideal.
Financial Fair Play limitations have blocked any movement through the arrivals suite in M16 this year.
But that could change if United find it in their means to supply Ten Hag with the required firepower to help salvage a disappointing second season as manager.
And Callum Wilson represents an enticing option who is Premier League-proven and experienced enough to act as a worthy short-term mentor to Hojlund.
According to reports, United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been alerted to the Newcastle United striker’s availability as Eddie Howe battles FFP worries of his own.
Wilson is said to be available for around £18million, but whether Newcastle would willingly part ways so late in the window remains to be seen.
The 31-year-old also has little hope of improving United’s torrid injury record that has contributed to derailing their campaign. He has missed the last four games with a calf issue.
It’s no secret that the most likely outcome of the day is no incomings or exits. But United have a job to do on the pitch at Molineux.
And the Red Devils can start February with a bang by returning to winning ways in the Premier League against Gary O’Neil’s in-form side.
Marcus Rashford may start on the bench, having been dropped in United’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Newport County for his controversial Belfast bash last week.
He was coincidentally also benched at Wolves last season, having slept in for a team meeting beforehand. But he came on in the second half and scored the winner in a 1-0 triumph.
All might be forgotten if the United No. 10 does the same this evening, extending his positive run of form after registering two goals and two assists in his last four games.
But it’s expected to be a quiet one on the transfer front, with all focus rearing towards the first summer under the INEOS regime.