It’s no secret Manchester United have a squad that is not deep enough to compete with the other top teams in the league. In addition, some members of the starting eleven are not quite at the level required for Manchester United to close the gap on the likes of Liverpool in the future. In this article, three positions that United should look to strengthen in the Summer window will be identified and possible targets will be considered.
Creative Midfield/Box-to-Box Midfield
With the recent signing of Portuguese International Bruno Fernandnes, who has already won two Man of the Match Awards in his first two games, Manchester United’s midfield looks to be in a stronger place than it was just a few weeks ago. Couple his arrival with the return from injuries of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba and United have quite the midfield on paper.
However, there is still improvement to be made in this area. We have already seen how quickly injuries can decimate United’s midfield this season and with rumors constantly circulating about Paul Pogba’s future, it would be wise for United to invest in another midfielder. Depending on how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to utilize Fernandes, United can go for a more creative midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder.
Perhaps the most likely target, Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish has been linked to United numerous times. With an estimated value of around £30 million, United will certainly be interested if they can get the Englishman for anywhere near that price. Similar to Fernandes, Grealish can operate as both a box-to-box midfielder or as a more creative midfielder, as well as a winger if need be. Grealish often sets the tempo of games for Villa and would bring his control to United, as well as dynamism that has seen him register an impressive seven goals and six assists already in the league for relegation battling Villa.
Another possible target is a player who has long been linked to United, Atletico Madrid’s Saúl Ñíguez. Saúl has been an integral part of Diego Simeone’s Atletico set up for around five years now. It may be time the versatile midfielder wants a new challenge, and adding his workrate to midfield options that already contain Fred, McTominay, and Bruno Fernandes would point to United winning a lot of difficult midfield battles in the Premier League. A no nonsense midfielder with an eye for the spectacular goal, Saúl could very well be the final piece to United’s midfield puzzle.
Other possible midfield options include fan favorite James Maddison from high flying Leicester City, as well as another box-to-box option from Atletico in the form of Thomas Partey or a more defensive option in Lille’s Boubakary Soumaré.
I challenge you to find a United fan that did not have a smile on their face when young Daniel James scored on his debut in a 4-0 against Chelsea earlier this season. A fine start to life at United from the Welshman has seemed to drop off as the young winger has struggled to replicate early season form. Other players that have played in the right wing position this season include Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard, who do not offer much more creativity than James.
Young Mason Greenwood has also been utilized at right wing but he and the club will almost certainly see his long term future as a central striker to make the most of his excellent finishing abilities. For these reasons, Manchester United need to recruit in this position in the Summer and the overwhelmingly favored option among the fans is Borussia Dortmund starboy, Jadon Sancho.
At just 19 years of age, the former Manchester City player has already scored 26 times and assisted a further 31 goals in the German Bundesliga. A switch to the red side of Manchester would see Sancho bring his pace, dribbling and eye for a killer pass to a squad that definitely needs his creative spark. A possible front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho has the potential to light up Old Trafford for years to come.
Another possible winger United could look to sign is Ajax’s David Neres. Neres has struggled with a knee injury this season for the Amsterdam based club but has still managed six goals in the Eredivisie and would also offer United a creative, skillful spark on that right wing.
The emergence of young Brandon Williams at left-back has been enough to force the sale of former club captain, Ashley Young to Inter Milan. In addition, Luke Shaw is enjoying a decent run of form at the moment, which he has struggled to do at United due to his injury problems.
That being said, a club like United who want to be challenging for titles may feel they need a bit more than a young fullback with only a handful of games to his name and an injury prone Shaw. While there is not exactly a plethora of world class left-backs in world football at the moment, there are a few that could come to United and improve the squad.
The same league that Bruno Fernandes joined from, The Primeira Liga of Portugal, has two outstanding attacking left-backs within its ranks right now. Alex Telles (27) or Alex Grimaldo (24) could offer a great deal of experience to the left back position at United and help the likes of Williams develop.
If United want to go down the more experienced route at left back, Juventus’ Alex Sandro (29), who has been one of the top fullbacks in Europe for years, could also suit the role. United are one injury away from being extremely short at left back so potentially signing one of Europe’s best that could also assist in the development of Williams could prove to be intelligent business.
Written by Nicholas Blaustein