Manchester United Hand Jose Mourinho £80 Million Funds For January—So Here's How He Might Spend it

Around a decade ago, £80 million could have bought you the best player in the world. It could have decided a title race, or turned Champions League hopefuls into championship contenders. Now, however, it may get you a left-back with a little change left over.

But that is the amount Jose Mourinho will reportedly have to invest in his Manchester United squad in January, intended to close the gap on Manchester City. Pep Guardiola's team has an eight-point cushion at the top of the Premier League table, a lead that can be extended or cut when the two teams collide at Old Trafford on Sunday.

City's creative force in midfield, Kevin De Bruyne, has described this as a crucial week in the title race, with City playing three games in six days.

"It gives us a good advantage for the moment but we have a big week with United, Swansea and then Tottenham to play in the league. If you lose two games out of three and they [United] win everything, they are there," De Bruyne said, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph.

But Mourinho will be thinking further ahead. He will be considering how best to spend the money available to him when the transfer window reopens on January 1. Here, Newsweek takes a look at the areas of United's squad that Mourinho will be thinking of addressing:

Filling the Full-Back Hole

Mourinho has a left-back at his disposal, one Manchester United paid almost £30 million for just three years ago. But the United manager has made clear, through his team choices, that he lacks faith in Luke Shaw. The 22-year-old has featured just twice for United this season from the bench, with a total of 48 minutes on the field in the League Cup. He has not even been included in United's squad for the last three league games. Shaw is expected to move on from Old Trafford, either in January or the summer, and Mourinho is in need of a natural full-back.

This season, he has used the versatile Dutch midfielder Daley Blind and right-footed Matteo Darmian, but has most frequently turned to Ashley Young, who has spent most of his career as an attacking winger. Tottenham's Danny Rose is the most likely target for Mourinho but he is expected to set United back £50 million.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho at Manchester United's training complex near Carrington, Manchester, England, December 4. Mourinho will reportedly have £80 million to spend in January. PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty

In Need of a Magician

It may take a magic trick or even a miracle to derail Manchester City this season, given the team's current run of 20 consecutive victories. But that is, indeed, what Mourinho is after. According to The Sun, Mourinho has ordered his army of scouts to go and find him a "magician," someone capable of unlocking the compact defenses that his team will come up against. United has previously regarded players such as Antoine Griezmann, of Atletico Madrid, as being in this category but Mourinho is aware that a signing of this stature is not possible in January.

Return to Inverted Winger

Mourinho handed United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward a list of targets that he wanted in the summer. In came Victor Lindelof, followed by Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic. But Mourinho's list included one more target, a wide player capable of cutting in from the wing and joining in with the strikers. Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic was among the players in this position that United pursued, and may now return to.

This season, Perisic has shown why Mourinho was so keen to take him to Old Trafford. The 28-year-old Croatian has been one of the outstanding players for Luciano Spalletti's Serie A leader this season, scoring seven goals and assisting six in 15 league games. Such success and Inter's new coach may prove to be too difficult to lure Perisic away.