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Aug 31, 2014

Five transfer deadline day storylines

The ESPN FC crew discusses whom Alberto Moreno reminds them of, what impressed them the most about Diego Costa so far, what Real Madrid has to work on after their loss to Real Sociedad, Chicharito to Real Madrid and Shinji Kagawa to Dortmund.

As the hours count down until the transfer window closes on Monday, there is still much to be done by many clubs in need of squad reinforcements. Here is a look at five stories that could run and run until the very end.

1. Will Manchester United finally get Arturo Vidal?

With the imminent arrival of Daley Blind, Manchester United are saying their business is now probably done ... unless the right deal becomes available. That deal, however, is rather specific. Despite the club's repeated denials that they are pursuing the Juventus midfielder, with the most recent coming Wednesday night, their interest is well-known.

So are their concerns, though. United have genuine issues with Vidal's knee and a justifiable reticence about paying a block-busting figure for a player who might need an incentivised contract due to his fitness. This is where the "right deal" becomes essential.

Arturo Vidal played for Juventus on Saturday, but reports linking him with Manchester United will not go away.

Sources in Italy have claimed Vidal has been slightly put out by the public debate about his fitness but remains keen on a move to United. Louis van Gaal is just as keen and last week told his employers to just try to get it done. Around the same time, Old Trafford sources told ESPN this is one long-running saga that could go right to the end of the window.

It could also ensure that United go to a new level and define executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's summer and Van Gaal's first season. Without a player like Vidal, their business only feels acceptable, and their team is still a little short. With him, they might have a genuine game-changer who can finally provide that long-missing thrust in midfield.

That is why the right deal is arguably imperative. Vidal is undeniably the right player.

2. Will Arsenal spend?

The eternal Arsenal cycle revolves again, yet for a month at the start of the summer, it all seemed so different. The Gunners had won the FA Cup to end their nine-year trophy drought and had also signed an elite player in relatively relaxed fashion and beat Liverpool to the signature of Alexis Sanchez.

Since then, however, we've had a reversion, and the club will enter the final 24 hours of the window having so far failed to buy in two key positions, with all of that still dependent on Arsene Wenger's frugal economics. It all seems too familiar, and Arsenal need a new departure -- to properly challenge for the title past February, they need depth and strength, particularly in defensive midfield and attack.

Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho wants the move, and Wenger himself has long coveted Lars Bender, while there are a number of striking options. "I will actively be involved on deadline day," Wenger said Friday. "I will be on alert until the last minute."

The crucial factor might not be alertness. It might be willingness to spend.

3. Can Tottenham address their needs?

As dismal as another bad defeat to Liverpool was for Tottenham, it might be another of those reverses that actually proves positive in the long run. Spurs might be more convinced to act on the final day of the window and speed up what still looks a hugely encouraging project under Mauricio Pochettino.

So far, though, there has been an odd reticence in the market from Daniel Levy, and this has been Tottenham's quietest summer in some time, almost reflecting a need for the club to take stock. The flip side is that, for all the flaws still to be fixed, Pochettino is a manager more deserving of backing than any of their other recent appointments, including Harry Redknapp. The Argentine's plan is as clear as his philosophy.

The Liverpool loss just showed the areas in which Spurs are falling short. Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton would slot in perfectly, for example. The French midfielder, however, is another of those potential "domino effect" players in this window. He is being monitored by a number of teams -- including Manchester United and Arsenal -- and would fix a number of issues for several clubs, while the eventual decision to take him could influence all manner of moves elsewhere.

Roberto Soldado is another example, if on the other side. The Spaniard could be on his way out of Spurs, but not exactly to a club who would represent an upgrade. QPR are interested in him after Loic Remy's move to Chelsea was finally confirmed, as are a handful of Spanish and Italian clubs.

Any sale could facilitate some superior signings at Tottenham. They are still needed.

4. What will be the fate of Radamel Falcao?

Given where they both were a year ago, the current situations with Monaco and Radamel Falcao are rather remarkable. The Ligue 1 club are suddenly radically reining in their operation on the financial side, and Falcao has been readily offered to all of the elite European clubs for a season-long loan worth 20 million euros.

With Olivier Giroud out until 2015, the suddenly available Radamel Falcao would bolster the Arsenal strike force.
Falcao has returned to fitness following a serious knee injury. Will he move on deadline day?

Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Juventus are, at the very least, keeping an open mind about a move for the Colombian, and he would seem an obvious fit for each of their striking issues.

There is also one obvious drawback: the expense of the deal against the length of it (it is little wonder Wenger has such issues, for example). The man with the fewest qualms about that kind of deal would be Florentino Perez, and the Bernabeu remains Falcao's most likely destination, but there could yet be a surprise bigger than what has happened at Monaco.

5. Where is the wild card and late twist?

OK, it's more of a narrative device in itself than a storyline, but the unseen late developments of deadline day always become a tale in themselves. There's always one, if not many more, from Andrey Arshavin's arrival at Arsenal in February 2009 to the drama of Peter Odemwingie four years later.

There are also a number of candidates to try to pull off something complicated, given that none of Europe's elite sides -- or any of those in the Premier League -- look completely in line with what they'd want, bar perhaps Bayern Munich.

For example, Alvaro Negredo's mooted move from Manchester City might cause them to act, while that could have a knock-on effect in Spain. It's likely to be that kind of day.

Miguel Delaney

Miguel Delaney is a London-based correspondent for ESPN and also writes for the Irish Examiner, the Independent, Blizzard and assorted others. He is the author of an award-nominated book on the Irish national team called "Stuttgart to Saipan" (Mentor) and was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MiguelDelaney.

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