Manchester United started and finished 2016 stranded outside the Champions League places in the Premier League, and yet, the club ended in a completely different situation. Now on the upturn, United shows much promise for 2017, but just what will occur at the club over the course of the next year? Will United be successful in their chase for passion and glory under Jose Mourinho, or will 2017 be another year of turmoil and transition?
Most Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United has many world class players at their disposal but the most likely to be successful in front of goal remains 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was United’s top scorer in 2016 despite only joining in August. Ibrahimovic already has 18 goals and six assists for the club, and he’s the type who will hope for more in 2017.
Most Assists: Henrikh Mkhitaryan Slightly usurping the likes of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata in 2017 will be Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has finally emerged as United’s main creative outlet. From the right side of attack, Mkhitaryan is electric, and the first Armenian in the Premier League will put up a great creative showing.
Best Player: Paul Pogba The Frenchman has been United’s best player this season, regardless of what anyone will say, and he is in the WhoScored team of the season so far for United, both in the Premier League and Europa League. Pogba, currently rated at 7.85 overall, is the third best player in the Premier League according to the statistical index.
Best Young Player (U23): Anthony Martial The Frenchman is set for a big year, as evident from his performance against Middlesbrough, and he could be the player to win the place on the left side of attack for the rest of the season. Martial could be the only player under the age of 23 to play in the first team this season, though, which means he virtually picks himself in the side.
Player to Watch: Juan Mata Manchester United will need some x-factor players who aren’t necessarily in the Starting XI, and Juan Mata is probably the best player in the squad that doesn’t warrant a starting place. Expect Mata to continue his fine form and sportsmanship, winning over the fans again and becoming a more integral part of the squad.
Youth Player to Watch: Angel Gomes Gomes is already one of, if not the, most gifted player in the U18 Premier League, despite only turning 16 years of age in August. Gomes produces absolute computer numbers at U18 level, and hopefully physical developments will allow him to play in the U23 Premier League before he turns 17.
Youth Debuts: Sean Goss, Axel Tuanzebe Jose Mourinho should include the likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Marcus Rashford, Joe Riley, and Andreas Pereira in his squad next season, but he should also give debuts to Sean Goss and Axel Tuanzebe. Goss, hailed as a potential successor to Michael Carrick in midfield, has trained with the first team. Tuanzebe has also trained with the first team and could earn time in central defence once Jose Mourinho decides who from the current crop should leave the club.
Premier League 2016/17 – Manchester United finish third Jose Mourinho will not allow his men to stop climbing up the table, and a place in the top four should be achievable. Chelsea and Liverpool seem to be fit and firing, but Manchester City and Arsenal are slowly slipping, and I fancy United to pip them to third and force them to fight for the last place in the top four.
Domestic Cups 2016/17 – Manchester United Win EFL Cup Jose Mourinho takes the cup competitions seriously, and United now has the opportunity to set up a final encounter with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Chelsea should win the Premier League and Liverpool could be rewarded with the FA Cup, but I think United will beat Klopp’s men in the final to earn the bragging rights of the EFL Cup.
European Cups 2016/17 – Manchester United Win UEFA Europa League Jose Mourinho’s early-season woes will be compensated for if Manchester United wins the only club competition they haven’t won and are eligible for, which is the Europa League. Wayne Rooney will likely want the cup in his trophy cabinet, as he hasn’t yet won the Europa League, winning everything else with United during his career.
Biggest Signing: Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid Manchester United will sign Antoine Griezmann in the summer, though they won’t break the transfer record fee paid for Paul Pogba. So far, Griezmann has been very good this season, and he will likely be the biggest move over the summer in World Football.
Biggest Departure: Wayne Rooney United great Wayne Rooney will pick up the Europa League on his way out the door, and he will stop in China on his inevitable path to the MLS. The Chinese Super League teams will pay top dollar for Rooney, who will be the biggest sale of the summer.
Other Players to Leave: Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Adnan Januzaj, Memphis, and James Wilson Most notably, Chris Smalling will make a surprise departure to follow Rooney out the door, as two of United’s three captains leave the club in one year.
Surprise Signing: Nelson Semedo, Benfica Rumours linking Manchester United to Victor Lindelof have taken the attention away from Nelson Semedo, who could be on his way to United very soon. The Portuguese right-back has a goal and three assists from fifteen matches in the Portuguese league this season, and he could be the successor to Antonio Valencia at just 23 years of age.
Moment of the Year: Anthony Martial Scores UEFA Europa League winner Anthony Martial will score the goal to carry United to the Europa League title, in added time. Martial, who scored major goals for United in the FA Cup last season, has the x-factor to appear at the biggest moments and will do exactly that in the Europa League.