If the manager can shift a few bodies then money IS there to bring players but it’s a big IF with a lot of players on big money and proving rather difficult to move. The alternative to this looks like United signing no one, especially with the need to trim at least three or four before anyone can walk through the doors.
So, here’s a brief summary of the deals United could be involved in this window, players on the radar, potential exits and words from Bruce on what he expects this month.
Who could leave this month?
With outs a little more pressing that ins, a number of players’ heads are on the chopping block. Top of the list are Dwight Gayle, Yoshinori Muto and Ki Sung-yeung. All three don’t have a future at United and will be shown the door. The only problem, particularly with Gayle, is the price. The frontman, who has started just one game this season, is liked by Bruce but has plenty of takers in the division below, if United either lower their £15million asking price or the player lowers his wage demands, as he picks up almost £60,000 per week at St James’s Park.
Jack Colback, Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow’s deals all end in the summer, so could well be shown the door early, the same goes for Jamie Sterry.
Rolando Aarons, Henri Saivet and Achraf Lazaar are all surplus to requirements and could also be sent out permanently.
Others such as Federico Fernandez and Matty Longstaff could depart, one permanent and the other on loan after penning an extended deal, as expected.
What kind of player are NUFC targeting?
Bruce needs firepower in the final third. He has legs, willing runners, physicality, pace and skill in that department but lacks what is needed most – goals!
Every manager on the planet will be looking to add goals to their squad this month and it’s no secret they’re hard to find.
Beyond that, it’s a Mo Diame-type for the centre of the park Bruce is looking to find.
What has been said about January?
Lee Charnley (last month): “We never say never (signing players in January) – I don't want to over promise and under deliver.
"I think you look at the squad and the options that are available to the manager, and he has competition in every position.
"Does that mean if something becomes available we can do it? What I'll say is we will have a look at it.
"Steve himself has gone on the record and said he's happy with the group he's got."
Steve Bruce (after United side’s 2-1 St James’s Park loss to Everton): “There are a few plates spinning.
“We will see. I won't act unless it will improve the team. I have to let two or three go if we want to make changes."
What plates do United have spinning?
Jarrod Bowen, of Hull City, is a player who ticks all the boxes for United and for Bruce, who signed the player when he was manager at the KCOM Stadium.
His pricetag is a major issue but the player is believed to be very keen to reunite with Bruce. It might be an easier deal to do in the summer for United.
Granit Xhaka is a player Bruce likes, but that deal is all but dead it appears, while Adam Lallana of Liverpool is someone who the manager would like to sign, even if he does not fit into the club's buying policy.
Birmingham City wonder kid Jude Bellingham is another player being monitored while Queens Park youngster Reagan Thomson is set to put pen to paper to bolster the development squad.
On the striker front Rangers' Alfredo Morelos is someone Bruce admires, but it seems certain the lively Columbian will remain at Ibrox, at least while hopes on the European front and domestic title race remain alive.
United could also move for Genk forward Mbwana Samatta, who has lit up the Champions League this campaign.