Amid all of yesterday's Louis van Gaal-based excitement, an interesting article from the Guardian, claiming to lift the lid on six of José Mourinho's Manchester United transfer targets, slipped through the net. As you all well know, here at the Busby Babe we treat our hits like our children: we're trying to have as many as is possible. We're not about to let this story go in a hurry. And so without further ado, here are the six Ones chosen by the Chosen One:
André Gomes, 22, Valencia, midfielder
Though we haven't seen much of André Gomes, we like the sound of him, and it's fair to imagine José Mourinho does too. A good read from Andy Mitten on Gary Neville's ill-fated spell in charge of Valencia reveals that the former United man especially enjoyed working with Gomes, whom he compared to former Mou favourite Frank Lampard. At a towering 6ft 2in tall, Gomes appears much more Mourinho's kind of hustling playmaker than Juan Mata, and there's also the obvious Portuguese connection. He probably wouldn't be too difficult to prise from Valencia, and would be a very interesting option indeed.
João Mário, 23, Sporting Lisbon, midfielder
João Mário has recently established himself as a regular for both club and country, and according to Portuguese football expert Tom Kundert, he's only getting better. The 23-year-old lacks the imposing stature of his compatriot Gomes, though his strengths are similarly creative. Having been deployed both out wide and through the middle, he'd also add a helpful versatility. However, he's almost certainly the least well-known of all the players on this list, and the step up to the Premier League would be bigger for João Mário than any of the others.
John Stones, 21, Everton, defender
This rumour tallies, if only because John Stones was very strongly linked with a move to Chelsea before a certain Portuguese tactician was sacked midway through the season. The England defender was last year touted as a future Three Lions legend, though a series of disappointing performances contributed to Everton's catastrophic second half of the campaign, and culminated in the sacking of manager Roberto Martínez. Stones, the youngest player on this list, still has the makings of a very good player indeed. But there is certainly reason to be cautious.
Álvaro Morata, 23, Juventus, striker
Of all of the players named by the Guardian, Álvaro Morata is the only one who has so far proven capable of mixing it with the very best. The young Spaniard has been an instrumental part of Juventus' impressive Champions League showings over the last couple of years, and is one of the greatest all-rounders in world football at the moment. Tall and strong but mobile and creative, Morata is a brilliant player. The main problem: he's been persistently linked with a move back to Real Madrid since shining over in Italy, and it would be a big surprise if his former club weren't sniffing around. Juve also have the patience and spending power to hold out for a very good deal indeed.
Mauro Icardi, 23, Inter Milan, striker
Another young striker plying his trade over in Italy, Argentine international Mauro Icardi does very much seem like a striker in the Mourinho mould. He's not the tallest of forwards, standing at less than 6ft tall, but he's strong and little more than a pure goalscorer. That isn't a criticism as long as he scores goals, and he certainly does: since moving to Inter three seasons ago, Icardi has scored a thoroughly impressive 47 league goals in a division where defensive organisation almost invariably trumps attacking invention. Inter are no longer the European force they were when Mourinho was in charge, and could let him go for a reasonable fee.
Ezequiel Garay, 29, Zenit St. Petersburg, defender
Ah yes, it wouldn't be transfer season without United being linked with another swoop for Ezequiel Garay. The Argentine centre-back is the least exciting of all the players on this list, but with Mourinho almost certain to end the Daley Blind Experiment, we're going to need a new player alongside Chris Smalling at the heart of the defence. Let's just hope he'd manage to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football a little better than his compatriot Nicolás Otamendi managed on the other side of Manchester.