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Five players United could target as Southampton prepare to sell

Southampton are reportedly in crisis and could be facing a mass exodus of players following the departure of Chairman Nicola Cortese. Could Manchester United take advantage of the uncertainty on the south cost by snapping up a few talents?

Bryn Lennon

Victor Wanyama

Linked with a move to Manchester United before Southampton made the decision to purchase him from Celtic, Wanyama is a Reds fan and brings much that United currently lack in midfield.

As a pure defensive midfielder, Phil Jones has done a rather excellent job when fit this season, but there are several problems. Firstly, 'when fit'. Secondly, the likelihood he'll be needed to provide a far better option to Chris Smalling at right-back in the absence of Rafael. Thirdly, he'll be needed at centre-back after the loss of Rio Ferdinand and perhaps Nemanja Vidic. And fourthly, he cannot score from open play and has a phenomenally limited range of passing.

Wanyama is no Xavi, but he is a confident and reliable passer and can score several kinds of goals. He'd bring pace and steel, he'd be desperate to play for the club, and he's shown that he's very much a big-game player and can do it against the very best. He's also still just 22. Would be a fine option if he could be acquired for a reasonable price. So far, however, no links have emerged and United are likely to continue pursuing higher-profile targets.

Suitability rating: 4/5

Likelihood: 2/5

James Ward-Prowse

One of Southampton's highly-rated academy products, Ward-Prowse has been trusted plenty of times in midfield this season, and has mostly been pretty inconsistent, as you'd expect from his age. But there's no doubt that he's one of the hopes to nail down a regular England spot in the future, even if he hasn't quite shown that he's a certainty to make it.

A fairly dynamic midfielder with a good range of passing, Ward-Prowse is certainly the type of midfielder United need, even if he is a little too young to make much of a difference right now. Once again, no new links have yet emerged.

Suitability rating: 3/5

Likelihood: 2/5

Adam Lallana

A player whose stock has risen considerably and has been linked to Manchester United since the departure of Nicola Cortese, although... come on, is he that good? He might be a better option than Antonio Valencia on the right wing at the moment, but so would Wayne Routledge. It's difficult to see his viability even as a squad player, let alone a starter, and there are far better targets we could be putting the money towards. It almost seems like he has a touch of the Adam Johnson's about him, still being hailed as a promising young prospect at the age of 25...

Suitability rating: 2/5

Likelihood: 1/5

Luke Shaw

United need a left-back, and Luke Shaw is one of the best for his age in the world. It seems a no-brainer, and the club have certainly been linked, even before the current crisis, so we can assume they have a genuine interest.

Shaw is outstanding for his age, but at his actual level of ability he's very much a mid-table plodder. He's not a young player who's shown he has an outrageous ability that a world-class player could be coached from. In many ways, that makes him a more reliable prospect and a potentially better future player, but it also makes him less use now. If United are happy to let Patrice Evra continue as first choice with competition, this makes sense. If they need someone who's more or less ready right now, it doesn't.

Oh, and Shaw is far likelier to join Chelsea, who are also in the market to replace an ageing left-back, and are his boyhood club. Unfortunately it looks like we may miss out.

Suitability rating: 4/5

Likelihood: 2/5

Gaston Ramirez

Highly-rated when he came to England, Southampton unusually chose to splash a high proportion of their budget when coming up on the winger from Bologna, and it was a pretty poor use of the money in their first year as he failed to have much of an impact. He still has undoubted class and potential, and is regularly linked to big clubs abroad, but he's simply not shown enough in England to justify the gamble, especially since even if Southampton simply wanted to recoup their money it would be a hefty price. No.

Suitability rating: 1/5

Likelihood: 1/5