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Manchester United’s Transfer Strategy to Challenge For the Title Again

Manchester United appeared to have turned a corner in the weeks leading up to the suspension of all football matches, with an 11 match unbeaten run in all competitions. Five of those undefeated games were in the Premier League, but United are way behind arch enemies Liverpool and neighbours Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be deliberating just what Manchester United need to do in the transfer market, to make a title challenge next season. And maybe an assault on the Champions League, with United currently just three points behind Chelsea in the fourth place Champions League qualifying position.

Manchester United’s Transfer Strategy to Challenge For the Title Again

Manchester United Show Defensive Strength

Nine clean sheets were kept during the recent 11 match run of form. In four out of five Premier League matches, since that disastrous 2-0 home defeat against Burnley, United did not concede.

Harry Maguire is starting to look like he has settled into the captaincy role, bestowed on him so early into his Manchester United career, with a recent string of impressive performances, especially in the 2-0 win against Manchester City.

Yet Solskjaer might be thinking of dipping into the transfer market to buy a centre back partner for Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has regressed after a decent 2018/19 campaign. Question marks over his physicality have resurfaced, as he has often been second-best up against robust challenges.

Axel Tuanzebe has shown potential as a young centre-back at just 22-years-old, with some assured performances. But Solskjaer must have concerns over the injury record of such a young player. He has missed a large chunk of this season with hip and hamstring damage, and during Tuanzebe’s year-long loan spell at Aston Villa last season, he was out for 17 games with a metatarsal fracture.

Eric Bailly is another player who has had massive injury problems. The Ivorian has started only 70 matches in four years at Old Trafford, mainly due to ankle and successive knee issues.

As he displayed in his latest comeback game against Chelsea in February, there is potentially a quality centre back waiting to be unleashed. Yet it would be a big call for Solskjaer to rely on him, due to his extended time on the treatment table.

The full-back positions are secure. Luke Shaw has been playing some of his best football in a Manchester United shirt up to football’s postponement. Although, Shaw is another defender at the 20-time champions, with a history of injury problems.

It remains to be seen whether he is able to command a consistent run in the side, if not then youth product Brandon Williams is ready and waiting.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been a fantastic acquisition by Solskjaer and should prove a long term dependable presence in the back four.

Midfield Needs Quality Boost

United’s midfield this season has often looked the worst the club has had for years. The likes of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes have seemed more like a distant memory.

Andreas Perriera, in particular, has looked out of his depth. It would be a surprise to see him at the club next season. To his credit, Fred has bounced back from an awful first term at the club and has produced many energetic displays. The Brazilian’s performance at Manchester City before Christmas particularly stood out.

Nemanja Matic has also produced sound recent form, which has triggered a contract extension, but the Serbian has looked off the pace for some time before his resurgence. A defensive or bustling midfielder appears to be on Solksjaer’s radar.

Declan Rice and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria have been mentioned as potential targets. However, Saul Niguez would prove to be an outstanding addition, and if Atletico Madrid do not qualify for next season’s Champions League, his present employer may be willing to sell for financial reasons. Niguez displays an exceptional all-round game, with the ability to win and control possession.

The 25-year-old Spaniard would be a perfect fit for the ever-improving Scott McTominay, who looks like he could be a mainstay in the United side for years to come.

One of the biggest questions that Solskjaer will have to answer, is what will be the future of Paul Pogba. The outrageously talented Frenchman has been a major disappointment since his £90 million move from Juventus four years ago.

Pogba’s questionable attitude and some of the comments that have emanated from his camp would suggest that a parting of the ways would be the best outcome for club and player.

Attacking Decisions to Make For Solskjaer

The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in the January transfer window has provided a much needed creative spark to United’s often lacklustre attacking play this season. The Portuguese has played as a number ten, which appears to be his best position, could hurry Pogba’s departure.

The football transfer rumour mill has often linked United to the young English attacking midfielders James Maddison and Jack Grealish. However, the Fernandes signing makes either of these purchases less necessary. Both players are better deployed in a number ten position, which the Portuguese now occupies.

Grealish has often played a left-sided role in different formations, but Marcus Rashford has more than claimed that position.

Meanwhile, there seems to be little doubt that Jadon Sancho is a Manchester United target. A 20-year-old English winger would be in keeping with the blueprint that Solskjaer has mostly followed up to now, in attempting to create a growing side with a British nucleus.

Daniel James has exhibited many qualities on the right-wing, with great deliveries and an eye-catching curling shot. Yet the jury is out whether James has the qualities to be a top-level performer, in the mould of Raheem Sterling or Sadio Mane.

While Sancho has already been described as the perfect player by Germany football legend Lothar Matthaus.

Kane Out of Reach For Manchester United

Any visions of a move for Harry Kane, who recently commented that he could be open to leaving Spurs, would seem to be pie in the sky for United.

Kane is under contract until 2024, and the England captain’s asking price would be astronomical at the best of times.

Even a club of Manchester United’s commercial stature might be effected by football’s finances being ripped apart by the coronavirus pandemic.

United have also been previously worn down by the inevitably tough negotiating process with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, over the deals for Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov. But Kane’s huge goal-scoring prowess would be a huge boost.

Anthony Martial, despite being an occasional clinical finisher, has often looked like he lacks the sniper’s instinct in the eighteen-yard area.

And the Frenchman’s movement and positional sense has at times looked way short for what should be expected for an out and out striker. A Kane-like striker ought to be a priority

The next transfer window is a window of big decisions to be made for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.


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