After finishing 2nd in the Premier League, 12 points off local rivals Manchester City, Manchester United will be looking to the summer transfer window to add some crucial additions to strengthen the team in the hope of making that extra step to win the Premier League title.
With the high amount of games in a season, squad depth is becoming essential. The strongest teams like Manchester City, have quality options in all positions, giving them the freedom to balance the busy schedule without losing crucial games due to a lack of options. Thus, United will be hoping to have a successful window bringing in additional quality into the side.
Where signings are needed
After the tantalising Europa League final loss on penalties, questions were asked about whether this marked the end of De Gea’s run as first choice goalkeeper after 10 years at the club. Dean Henderson had proven his worth on loan at Sheffield United in 2020 and with football adapting past just the need for shot-stopping, some believed the Englishman should get his chance. However, as United have two quality options, goalkeeper isn’t a signing that’s needed this summer.
After Dalot’s uninspiring spell in Italy with AC Milan, it could be time to move the injury prone fullback on as Aaron Wan Bissaka still holds down his place in the team. Thus, a right fullback signing could be one United need.
At centre half, after the sale of Chris Smalling, it leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tunazebe and his £80m record signing Harry Maguire. However, with Jones and Bailly being consistently plagued by injuries, Tuanzebe unable to consistently get a run of games, a new centre half could be necessary. This especially as United’s defence has often looked vulnerable even with Solskjaer’s preferred pairing of Lindelof and Maguire.
Left fullback is a non-essential spot due to the quality of both Luke Shaw and Alex Telles.
In the midfield, depth is essential, with Paul Pogba continuing to not commit to his future at the club. Furthermore, Nemanja Matic is only getting older and will need replacing in the near future. Fred and Scott Mctominay are often Solskjaer’s main pairing in midfield but both lack in key areas especially with regards to quality on the ball and defensive anticipation. In offensive midfield, with the signing of Bruno Fernandes, depth in this position isn’t essential.
However, Andreas Pereira has raised questions over whether he is Manchester United standard and so additional quality in this position could be needed but isn’t a priority. This especially due to Fernandes’ remarkable injury record. However, a central midfield signing is essential for United if they wish to improve on last season.
In Solskjaer’s 4231, Marcus Rashford is the preferred choice off the left, forming a strong partnership with fellow Englishman Luke Shaw. However, United have very little options often having to resort to playing Pogba there. Subsequently, a left forward could be a useful position to invest in.
However, the right wing position is the priority. Youngster, Mason Greenwood has worked his way into the side and with his versatile shooting ability earnt his spot as United’s right winger. However, despite his talent, United need depth as Greenwood is only 18 and has a lot to learn.
At striker, the necessity of a centre forward is defined by whether Edison Cavani stays another year at Old Trafford. If the striker leaves, a new number nine is a definite priority.
However, if he decides to stay, a striker could wait another year.
Therefore, Right Back, Centre Half, Central Midfield and Right Winger are the priorities.
Who United should sign
At Right Back, United could potentially look at Denzel Dumfries or Max Aaron’s.
Both Dumfries and Aaron’s would provide strong competition for Aaron Wan Bissaka with better comfort on the ball than United’s current right back. Furthermore, both Dumfries and Aarons are unlikely to cost more than £30m which is significantly less than the £50m United paid for Bissaka in 2019.
The sale of Dalot could provide around £15-20m, which with the signing of a new right back would be only around a £10m net spend.
At centre half, United could look at Milan Skriniar, Kalidou Koulibaly and Raphael Varane. All three have major experience in the top tiers of European football, Varane especially, having won four Champions League titles at Real Madrid. Both Skriniar and Koulibaly could cost around £80m pounds, which after the huge fee for Maguire could put United off. Whereas, due to Varane’s contract, he could cost around £35m.
Skriniar is 26, Koulibaly is 30 and Varane is 28. Furthermore, out of the three, Varane is the most proven in title and cup winning teams, being a crucial part in Madrid’s success in the last decade.
His reading of the game and defensive awareness has set him apart from defenders across the globe creating a formidable partnership with Sergio Ramos. Thus, Varane would be the best option, but both Skriniar and Koulibaly would strengthen United.
In central midfield, United could look at Eduardo Camavinga, Saul Niguez and Ruben Neves.
All three midfielders would provide greater ball playing ability than Fred and Mctominay but their prices could be an issue. Ruben Neves has the strongest passing range, with the ability to dictate the play which is essential for United. However, he would likely cost around £80m due to him already playing in the Premier League and only being 24. Saul Niguez would be a far cheaper option with Athletico Madrid happy to let him go.
The Spaniard is 26 and has potential to improve but not at the same rate of his counterparts. Camavinga has the most potential catching the eye of many top clubs at only 18. His ability to impress so young is a statement of the ability the young Frenchman has. The Rennes midfielder would likely cost around £35m and so his talent combined with his price makes him a strong target for United. Ultimately, United’s choice would massively depend on budget and what Solskjaer wants.
If he wants a cheap proven midfielder, he’d opt with Niguez. However, if he wants a high potential choice, he’d go with Camavinga. Then if he wanted a prem proven midfielder with a balance of age and quality at a higher price he’d opt with Neves.
At right wing, United should go for long term target Jadon Sancho. After last summer’s major failure to sign the talented winger, United will be desperate to not repeat the same mistake. Despite the risk, Sancho is a must buy.
The Englishman managed 36 goal contributions in 38 games last season despite a slow start. His quality decision making and silkiness on the ball makes him an exciting prospect. United have a history of choosing players who don’t actually want to sign for the club, but Sancho is incredibly interested which is very important.
Last summer, Dortmund demanded £109m, however due to his contract running down United could now get him for around £75m. Thus, although he is expensive, United should look to bring in the Dortmund winger due to his brilliant offensive output and sheer desire to join the club.