The players Manchester United must keep at all costs

Transfer speculation, huge summer spending talk, and complaints about the way Manchester United have played their football in recent seasons seems to largely overlook the potential ability of the present squad.

So, let’s look at the team from a different angle! Who can United dare not lose?

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In goal, United have, probably, the best goalkeeper in the World! There is no shortage of superlatives written and reported about David De Gea. His agility and sheer speed, on occasion, have defied physics. Only when watching the slow-motion replays can anyone really appreciate his powers. He is United’s best and most important player by far and a must have!

In defence, there is the towering prospect of Eric Bailly. The Ivory Coast International cost £30.7m in 2016. He made 38 appearances in all competitions in his first season, including his ‘amazing’ tap in and first ever Club goal against Swansea City. This season, however, he only made it into the team 11 times – largely due to injury and struggling to gain fitness in the eyes of the manager. Jose Mourinho said he left Eric Bailly out of the team towards the end of the season because the Ivory Coast did not make it to the World Cup and he felt duty bound to give other defenders a chance to win a place in Russia.

This 1.87 m 24-year-old central defender has become a favourite of the Red Devil’s supporters, with his solid, calm defending, impressive ball winning and occasional amusing antics. Bailly wants and should get a regular place at the heart of United’s defence come August.

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The Midfield has two top quality players in Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.

At 1.94m and 1.91m they provide much of Manchester United’s impressive aerial strength.

Nemanja ‘I have serious hair like Gary Neville’ Matic hit the ground running when he arrived from Chelsea last summer for £40.23m, appearing in 36 Premier League games and 49 in all competitions. Mourinho speaks of him as one of his two “high-level” performers, due to his tendency to quietly get on with his job of marshalling the midfield. His spectacular stoppage-time winning goal against Crystal Palace in March secured a place in the fan’s hearts and United’s Goal of the Month award.

If Matic can grow to become a Carrick replacement only time will tell, but the 29-year-old will surely continue his regular appearances for the Club. After a solid first season, United fans look forward to progress in the next.

Paul Pogba joined for a then record fee of £89.3m in 2016, returning to United like a prodigal son. He took time finding his feet in his first season back, but then achieved an incredible 35 consecutive games without being on the losing side when included in the team. He was combining his strength, ability and creativity to dominate games.

This season according to he rated 15th in the Premier League, as he suffered a loss of confidence. He needs a good World Cup! The 25-year-old Frenchman has talent by the bucket load. Next season could be his!

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In Attack United have depended on Romelu Lukaku as a sole option up front. His size – 1.9m and 94kg, and strength intimidate the opposition’s defenders, and his ability to hold up the ball is invaluable in build-up play. The 34 appearances the Belgian has made in the Premier League in his first season at United producing 16 goals has been a great return on his huge price tag – an initial £75m, especially when you add in the 11 goals he scored in his other 17 appearances in other competitions. His absence from the first three-quarters of the FA Cup final left United short on firepower and looking toothless. Overall, Lukaku earned a good rating of 7.45 for last season from Romelu Lukaku is a beast of a player and seems to relish his job at United. At 25 years of age, he is entering his prime.

Alexis Sanchez was a surprise arrival in January from Arsenal where there were rumours of unrest in the dressing room concerning the player. Not surprisingly, Sanchez is needing time to fit into the squad at Old Trafford, and the two goals in 12 appearances has not matched the 68 in 125 appearances he scored for Arsenal over the last three and a half years at the Emirates. Once again, the United faithful have taken the Chilean player to their hearts mainly due to his work rate and tenacity. He is the second smallest player in the squad after Jesse Lingard at just 1.69m, but his low centre of gravity makes him a nightmare to mark as he twists and turns his way past defenders.

Both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are capable of scoring 24+ goals a season. This may be why Mourinho is distancing himself from stories of a search for a new striker!

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The above six players can offer the foundation that Manchester United needs to build on in their quest to become Premier League champions again. The promising young players, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay, offer promise for the future and, for that reason should stay to develop their careers at Old Trafford. Other players have proved the worth at certain times this season – Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia of the older players, and Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, but lack of consistency see them left out of this article. The enigma that is Anthony Martial seems deemed to roll on, and it may come down to the player making his own choice.

Manchester United need to strengthen right across the back four, and the team could use a decent winger or two. The midfield still is short of another big-name player. But, hopefully, Jose Mourinho is still looking to build from within the present ranks. The coming season is going to be a significant one or United – one the United faithful can’t wait for…

Written by Chris Lawrence

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