Manchester United have not won the Premier League title since 2013. But after finishing second to rivals City last season and a place above Liverpool, there’s a strong case to suggest that United are closer than they’ve been in eight years to reach the summit of English football again.
To do this, though, they need a successful summer in the transfer market. Jadon Sancho is the statement signing they’ve wanted for years and his deal to sign from Borussia Dortmund is complete, but there are other areas in the squad which need addressing before they can be considered to be among the best teams in Europe.
Here’s the transfers Manchester United need to make to rise to power again.
Sign Raphael Varane
United are getting close to signing one of the world’s best centre backs in Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane. His arrival, were it to happen, would be a world class upgrade for the United back line and help turn them into title contenders.
Victor Lindelof has at times struggled alongside club captain Harry Maguire in their time as a first choice pairing, looking lightweight in one-to-one duels and in the air. Eric Bailly is barely able to stay fit while Axel Tuanzebe hasn’t had a fair chance. Phil Jones remains on the books too, somehow, but hasn’t been seen in months. Something extra is needed.
And Varane is a winner. He’s lifted multiple Champions League titles, league championships, and won the World Cup with France in 2018. At 28, he’s at his peak, and partnering him with Maguire would give United one of the best centre back pairings on the continent. It’s the bedrock for success.
Sign Kieran Trippier
Born in Bury, Kieran Trippier is from a family of Manchester United fans and has huge Premier League experience.
He’s fresh off the back of an excellent campaign for England at Euro 2020, while his current club Atletico Madrid won the Spanish title last season. But he wants to come home and it makes a lot of sense for United to pursue him.
They need alternatives at full back for Aaron Wan-Bissaka in particular, and Trippier will bring solid positional sense, good energy, experience and the knack of unlocking a difficult defence with a pinpoint cross – an area in which Wan-Bissaka is looking to improve.
The secret to rising to power in football is having incredible squad depth, and Trippier would bring exactly that were he to arrive.
Sign a defensive midfielder
For all their quality going forward in midfield and out wide, United don’t have a player who does all the dirty work and breaks up opposition attacks when they need it most. They’ve been getting their defensive solidity in the centre of the park from the combination of Fred and Scott McTominay, but it’s possible for United to find those qualities in one sensational defensive midfielder.
Declan Rice has been a long-term target, and while that would be dream scenario there’s likely better value found in players from other leagues.
Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara is available for transfer for a low price, while Eduardo Camavinga has been linked with a move from Rennes. The dream signing for most fans may be Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi, but he wouldn’t come cheap either.
Regardless, there’s players out there who can do this job, and finding one player that enables Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to express themselves takes United to a new level.
Seal Paul Pogba’s new contract
Technically not a transfer, but it’s as important a piece of business as Manchester United could do.
Paul Pogba is out of contract in summer 2022 and is considering his options over his next move. But if United can buy well this summer and really compete to be the power team in the Premier League and on the continent next season, it may be enough to convince him to stay.
Pogba was sold the dream of challenging for titles when he rejoined the club in 2016. And while that’s yet to happen, United are closer than ever to being in a position to do so.
And sign a world-class striker next summer
Edinson Cavani has signed up for another season, but won’t go on forever. And while the plan will be to develop Mason Greenwood into a lethal number nine over the next 12 months, United could be light in the central striker department after Cavani’s departure.
Erling Haaland is the player on everybody’s lips. While Chelsea are trying to blow Borussia Dortmund’s socks off with a huge bid to sign the Norwegian this summer, their current position is that they’re not ready to sell and will instead prefer to cash in when his release clause kicks in in 2022 – even if they stand to sell Haaland for a much more manageable sum of around £65m.
Haaland will have every club in the world after him next year if he stays at Dortmund now, but if the pieces can come together for United and they can start succeeding on the pitch, they’ll stand a great chance of landing one of the best players on the planet.
Solskjaer knows the player well and gave him his chance at Molde, so if United can match his ambitions on the pitch then they’d be capable of pulling off the ultimate power move ahead of the 2022/23 season.
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