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Meulensteen on summer targets Lindelof, Perisic, Morata and the effects on Rashford

Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has spoken about his former club’s summer transfer targets, amongst other things in a recent interview. The Dutchman who after leaving the Old Trafford club after David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson after he retired, became the assistant manager, then the manager of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, before managing Championship side Fulham, then Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. Last week United confirmed they had agreed on a fee for Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof, a player who arrived at the club’s AON Training Complex in Carrington this morning to undergo his medical ahead of his move. Meulensteen speaking exclusively to 888sport spoke about United’s summer targets, saying:

“They have already signed Lindelof from Benfica and obviously that was an area they needed to address. They’re still looking for a full-back and Fabinho from Monaco has been mentioned. A lot depends on whether they can keep De Gea because he is a very, very good goalkeeper and if they don’t do they sign a back up to Romero or a new number one? Michael Carrick has signed an extension which is important for Mourinho because he can be a great stabiliser in many games still. On top of that he needs more attacking threat and power, players who are clinical because for all their struggles last season the word that springs to my mind is wasteful. They created some really good chances but didn’t take enough of them. That is definitely an area they need to improve.”

Meulensteen also singled out Lindelof suggesting that the Swede will need to achieve success at his new club, which may not be a problem. Meulensteen, fully knowing what he is talking about stated that Jose Mourinho will need to have his central defenders to be solid when the defence is in danger, also needing to be comfortable on the ball and to play out from the back, which is an obsession of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Lindelof will almost certainly partner Eric Bailly, the player who became the best defender at the club last season, only arriving for £30 million last summer. If Lindelof has a similar season as the Ivorian, he will be a great buy with United spending just over £60 million on two central defenders, with some teams willing to spend that on one. Meulensteen said:

“To be one of the two Manchester United centre-backs you need to be solid and deal with any danger when it comes your way but on the other hand, you also have to be comfortable on the ball, to play out from the back. I’m sure that Mourinho has done his homework on Lindelof and those are the qualities that he will need.”

Ivan Perisic is rumoured to be another target for Mourinho this summer with a bid thought to have been placed for the Croatian, which had been rejected with Inter Milan holding out for €55 million for the player. Meulensteen spoke about the winger and stated that the 28-year-old would give United another dimension in terms of goal threat, which is something the club needed to improve on this summer with goals becoming a problem last season, amongst other things. Meulensteen praised Perisic by saying:

“Ivan Perisic is comfortable on the ball and he’s a creator. He can beat a man and has a fantastic pass. It’s important that United have a man who can open up defences with one pass and he has that. He can offer them another level of a goal threat.”

Alvaro Morata is reported to be close to securing a move to United this summer if reports are correct and Meulensteen spoke about the Spanish striker. United were linked to Everton’s Romelu Lukaku ahead of the summer transfer window opening, but the former United coach does not feel the Belgian has the United DNA. Meulensteen feels that Morata is the striker United need the most. The Dutchman said:

“Obviously, Romelu Lukaku knows the Premier League and has played in the Premier League for many years. He has plenty of power but I’m not too sure he has the kind of DNA that we’d like to see at Manchester United. Morata is a good striker but he’s in a situation where he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. I like him though: he is mobile, agile, and creates chances. The same can be said of Belotti but both would be coming from abroad and would have to adapt to the Premier League which we all know is difficult. If Belotti comes in it’s important that he scores early and get the monkey off his back. Then he could be a good fit. For me, though it would be Morata. We haven’t seen enough of him lately but then again it is extremely hard to get into that Real team.”

One concern to Meulensteen is tat he hopes Marcus Rashford does not become a victim after Mourinho’s plans to rebuild his United side this summer. The Dutch coach has worked with the teenager since he was a seven-year-old at the Cliff, United’s former training ground before moving to Carrington. Rashford had a great rise to fame with United, scoring twice in both his UEFA Europa League and Premier League debuts. Over the past season, Rashford has grown even more as a player, predominantly playing out of position, but still entertaining, which would suggest he will be some player when he reaches his peak, providing he is continuously given chances to succeed. Morata will most likely become the first-choice striker, but if Mourinho changes his formation utilising two strikers in some matches, not all, the pairing of the duo could be devastating. Meulensteen said:

“I like Marcus Rashford and I’ve worked with him when he was a little kid coming in to the Cliff at seven years of age. He came in with a smile and left with a smile. He couldn’t wait to start training and training was always short for him. There was only one level of energy that he would bring. I bumped into him recently at Michael Carrick’s testimonial and we had a chat. He’s still got those things and that’s important because as a professional you get exposed to a lot and you need stability in your life.”

“I’m so happy that he has already got so many games and he’s only going to get better the more that he plays and the more things that he gets exposed to. A lot depends on what type of striker Mourinho brings in. If they spend a great deal of money on someone there might be a chance that Marcus is again shifted out to the left or right. He can play there for sure but his best position is up front. I really hope that any new signings don’t sideline Marcus completely because that would be a real shame.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Rene Meulensteen, including his thoughts on how Morata should be Mourinho’s top target this summer.

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