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Jose Mourinho seeking fullbacks and an attacking midfielder this month – reports

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has put football agents on red alert this month according to reports as he is seeking two fullbacks and an attacking midfielder during the January transfer window. After 22 matches in the Premier League this season, United sit 15 points behind leaders Manchester City with Mourinho apparently blaming that on a lack of spending, despite Mourinho spending around £260 million since becoming the manager with Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic arriving at the club over the past two summers.

The Daily Mail reported earlier on Wednesday that Mourinho was seeking two fullbacks and a playmaker before the closure of the winter transfer window at the end of the month. Mourinho has Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian in his squad for the right-back position and Luke Shaw and Ashley Young in the left-back role, despite Young also filling in at right-back at times this season. Looking at the four players, many would think there is adequate cover in those positions but only one player, Luke Shaw is a recognised fullback.

In attacking midfield, United have a number of options with Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan the big money signings seemingly not filling the void in that area. An attacking midfielder could be for any position with the number ten role an area Mourinho wanted to strengthen along with the right-wing role. A player who could play in either position would be a great signing in this area. Lucas Moura is one player touted in the media right now, not that it suggests who United are looking to sign as the media are often wrong about new recruits.

Mourinho was asked about transfers this month recently with the Portuguese manager stating the following to reporters:

“I don’t know about transfers.

“In this moment we are in trouble, in two to three weeks’ time maybe we recover and we breathe in a different way, can we improve now or do we wait until the summer? I cannot say.

“If somebody comes, welcome. If nobody comes, we are going to fight with the players we have.”

United need to find some spark quickly. I can see why fullbacks are something United need with Valencia missing for the last few matches due to injury and a reliance placed on him for much of the season so far. It will only be a matter of time before a long-term injury weakens the squad in that area with Mourinho forced to rely on Matteo Darmian, who did not do that great against Championship side Bristol City in the Carabao Cup last month and Ashley Young fighting fatigue as he has been playing a lot also. Keeping players fit is what Mourinho and United need to do.

Luke Shaw could very much be in Mourinho’s long-term plans but having one left-back is not the best option. Squad rotation needs to happen and for that not to be a detriment to the club, having two fully fledged left-backs and right-backs will be of benefit rather than of a hindrance. Timothy Fosu-Mensah would be a great candidate this winter if he can be recalled from his loan spell at Crystal Palace but comments from Palace boss Roy Hodgson would suggest that is not an option unless United compensate Palace for terminating the loan spell, which might be costly.

United are a club which has been built on a foundation of youth but right now there are not many players in the Academy who are experienced enough to fill the positions needed, which would be a gamble – something needed in football. I would like to see Joe Riley and Demetri Mitchell given a chance as that could be a much cheaper option to fill the void in those roles, not necessarily the best option as Mourinho and United need experience in those areas. There is nothing to suggest both players may not get the chance in the future though.

This transfer window will be an interesting one. Manchester United is being run as a business, not a football club, relying on money coming in which is not based on how the team performs on the pitch. One thing to look out for is the time when the neglect being shown at the club by the owners brings in a lack of success on the pitch, which will, in turn, see the sponsorship money dry up as no businesses are going to pay top dollar to be advertised by a team falling down the pecking order.

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