Thursday saw Le10 Sport go all out and claim Manchester United had already been in talks with Monaco about the potential transfer of Bernardo Silva to Old Trafford.
That made us think. Who could José Mourinho realistically want and get from the principality club?
Whatever happens, one man will have a finger in all the pies were anything to happen, and that man is Jorge Mendes, who not only represents Bernardo Silva and José Mourinho, but also has a lot of influence over at Monaco.
The first name on this list has to be the aforementioned Portuguese whizkid, but with it comes an important question: Do Manchester United really need him?
With so many attacking options at his disposal, forcing a Memphis Depay exit, the last thing Mourinho seems to lack is wide players, and that is primarily what Bernardo Silva is.
Think of him as a younger version of what Juan Mata currently provides: not particularly blessed with pace, but very technically gifted and capable of functioning in incredibly tight spaces through quick interchanges.
The arrival of Bernardo Silva would also be a very expensive one, with figures of €80m being thrown around, yet it would also mean the end of someone else’s career at Manchester United.
With Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford currently untouchable (one being in great form and the other one being Marcus Rashford), this leaves doubt over the futures of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, with Ashley Young almost a guaranteed exit.
After last season, writing the words “doubts about” and “Martial’s future” in the same sentence seemed nearly impossible, yet here we are, with the Frenchman clearly not meeting José Mourinho’s expectations, and an agent openly pushing for an exit behind the scenes.
As for Lingard, considering he’s only made nine league starts this season, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest an exit to another Premier League team could be on the cards either, regardless of where his career started and his love for Manchester United.
Let’s also not discount the possibility of Juan Mata leaving (his contract does run out in 2018, after all), but the Special One’s choices this season point towards faith from the manager in the Spaniard’s abilities, and our bet would be on a short contract extension being on the way.
Moving onto midfield, an area that sorely needs rejuvenating at Old Trafford, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s exit seems nearly inevitable, and the fact Michael Carrick’s contract is due to run out in June means a new midfielder capable of sitting in front of the defence is likely to come in.
Interestingly enough, Monaco have two of those currently, both heavily linked with moves to Manchester United: Tiémoué Bakayoko and Fabinho.
This, for Mourinho, would be a case of ‘one or the other’, as Monaco are highly unlikely to want to see both go in the same summer, such is their importance to Leonardo Jardim’s plans.
Converted from right-back, Fabinho would probably be the more expensive of the two, having been around the longest and signing a new contract back in September until 2021.
The awareness gained from playing at the back in his early years as well as being very gifted with the ball in his feet and around 6’2″ make him a near complete midfielder most Premier League sides dream of.
Furthermore, his ability to play as a full-back and his nationality (we all know being Brazilian makes you instantly more valuable in the world of football) add to a continuously increasing value.
Bakayoko, on the other hand, has been touted for an exit costing £30m+, and probably suits what Manchester United need more than his Brazilian teammate.
Bringing the physicality clearly lacking in Michael Carrick’s game (who more than compensates for it with great reading of the game), the defensive midfielder’s ability to recuperate the ball and instantly get his team on the attack with either a surging run or an accurate pass will undoubtedly be top of most scouting reports on the player.
Making it clear he was never going to leave Monaco in the winter, being in the Champions League knockout round against Manchester City and fighting for the Ligue 1 title domestically, a summer move seems extremely likely for the 22-year-old.
Chelsea are also said to be very interested in his services, and it could be we end up with a juicy little bidding war come the end of the season.
And finally, defence.
Choosing Monaco over Arsenal in the summer, an exit for Djibril Sidibé was also suggested by Le10 Sport on Thursday, with the magazine claiming Mourinho had been following his progress since his days at Lille.
Then playing at left-back (he’s right-footed), the defender prioritises the right-hand side if possible, meaning that an offer to play on United’s left (where he would be more likely to feature due to Antonio Valencia’s resurgence) might not be the most attractive.
Of course, the prospect of Premier League football could sway that, but with Bacary Sagna likely to leave Manchester City on a a free in the summer, and reports Pep Guardiola could be interested, that offer could be far more convincing.
While the Jorge Mendes factor will be key in all of this, there is another man out there whom Mourinho could very well turn to if he needs information about Monaco players: Luis Campos.
Now advising Gerard Lopez at Lille, Campos used to be Monaco’s director of football, resigning in 2015, and will know everything there is to know about three of the four players mentioned above
This friendship, added to the Jorge Mendes factor, the Premier League’s and Manchester United’s attractiveness, as well as the financial pull suggest Mourinho has all the attributes at his disposal to pull off at least one of these deals in the summer.
Our bet? Bakayoko, as that is the club’s greatest need right now.