Perhaps it would not be a solid exaggeration to say that Manchester United has slipped into secondary roles in the English Premier League in recent years. If earlier the team led by the legendary Alex Ferguson invariably fought for the championship and in most cases became the winner of this challenging race, now the “gold” of the Premier League goes to the “noisy neighbours” from City, sworn rivals from Liverpool, or the capital’s rich from Chelsea, but not Manchester United.
The last time Manchester United became the champion of England was in 2013, and it won the Champions League a long time ago – in 2008. It was evident that no matter how bad things are in management, the top management still dreams of returning to their previous positions, which allowed the “red devils” to become one of the most successful and attractive football projects of our time economically.
To compete with other Premier League grandees again and on the European stage, Manchester United, as its current head coach Ole Gunnar Sulscher assures him and many experts agree, requires qualitative strengthening. The Norwegian coach has already built the” skeleton “of the team, but this team frankly lacks” muscle mass ” in the form of a couple of really top and robust performers.
Once again, this gives hope to the fans of “MU” that the summer transfer window will be a time for positive changes. What can we expect from the Mancunians in the market? Let’s try to figure it out.
It seems that Manchester United has begun to lay the path to future triumph with the long-awaited transfer of Jaydon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. For the last few years, what has been talked about has finally happened – a young Englishman who has become a real football star in the Bundesliga is returning to his homeland. His transfer will cost United 85 million euros, although the contract also stipulates additional bonuses that will bring Borussia about 10 million more.
So far, the transfer of Jaydon Sancho is the most expensive among all that have already been confirmed in the current transfer window. However, it is hardly worth expecting too much from a 21-year-old player, even an extremely talented one. Sancho will first have to adapt to the new team, then get used to playing in the English Premier League, where he once did not have the opportunity to play from Manchester City. If the United bosses understand this, then we should expect some more steps from the Mancunians to strengthen the attack right here and now.
The most logical thing would be to talk about an experienced attack player. Such as Edinson Cavani, who came last fall and immediately proved that he could give results. Therefore, there are rumours that Manchester United do not give up hopes of returning Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford, who frankly got bored at Juventus. This deal would not only be an incredible story of the Portuguese’s return to where his ascent to the football Olympus began but would also help the Red Devils purely psychologically – a person with a winner’s mentality would come to the team, from whom many others could adopt this invisible element of strength.
On the other hand, the transfer of Ronaldo is very problematic for several factors. Therefore, according to rumours, United is looking at another Juventus attack player — Paulo Dybala. It was even rumoured that the Argentine could be part of a deal to return to Italy the French midfielder Paul Pogba, who is constantly facing various kinds in the Foggy Albion.
An equally important position, which necessarily requires strengthening at Manchester United, is the central axis of defence. According to rumours, the Mancunians have already received permission from the bosses of Real Madrid to conduct preliminary negotiations with Raphael Varane. The Red Devils are ready to fork out about 50 million pounds to transfer the French defender, but if this is not enough, the British are not opposed to including someone from the players they do not need in the deal.
A little less problematic but still requiring strengthening is the central zone of midfield, especially if Paul Pogba still leaves Old Trafford this summer. Here, the United bosses seem to prefer buying Declan Rice from West Ham, which Slusher likes very much, and, I must say, this deal looks promising for the Red Devils. However, the spare options are also quite good – Ruben Neves from Wolverhampton and Marcel Zabitzer from Leipzig.
As noted above, the most significant outgoing transfer to Manchester United this summer may be 28-year-old Frenchman Paul Pogba. Once again, this midfielder showed himself well in the French national team at a major tournament (although the “tricolour” did not achieve their goals), which is why Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are now actively claiming Pogba. However, both contenders can play because Pogba’s contract with United expires in the summer of 2022. So far, the midfielder does not agree to an extension of the deal, which makes the positions of the Red Devils in the negotiation process quite vulnerable.
Another midfielder who did not fit well into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the Dutchman Donny van de Beek. The 24-year-old midfielder undoubtedly has good qualities to be on top at a top club, but United does not seem to suit Donny, either at all or at this stage of his career. Therefore, the option of leaving van de Beek, for example, on loan, seems quite realistic. By the way, about the realities: it is rumoured that Real Madrid is showing a substantive interest in the Dutch midfielder, who is not opposed to renting van de Beek for a season with the possibility of further redemption.
So far, United has said goodbye to only two goalkeepers – 34-year-old Argentine Sergio Romero, who was never able to compete with David De Gea and 25-year-old Portuguese Joel Pereira, who moved to Manchester United as a young man. Still, for nine years at the club, he played only three matches for the first team and mostly travelled on leases.
Many also expected that the experienced Spanish midfielder Juan Mata would leave Old Trafford. Still, unexpectedly the Red devils chose to extend the employment agreement with this veteran for another year. What is true, Mata no longer plays a vital role in the team, and this is a decision for the “depth of the squad”, no more.
Who will return?
Among the players who spent the past season outside of Old Trafford being loaned out, first of all, it is worth highlighting Jesse Lingard, who excellently spent the second part of the 2020/21 Premier League draw with West Ham. Transfermarkt analysts estimated the 28-year-old Englishman at 10 million euros at the time of his departure for rent, and now his contract is equivalent to 28 million!
But it is unlikely that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will decide to actively involve Lingard in the team in the 2021/22 season. Therefore, the most likely way here is the sale of Jesse, on which United, taking advantage of the demand and popularity of the midfielder in the market, can earn good money.
Perhaps the Portuguese Diogo Dalot, who showed himself well at Milan, will get a chance to prove himself at United after returning from loan. Still, everything will depend on external factors here too. It is rumoured that Real Madrid is showing interest in Dalot, and if a specific offer for sale is received from the “cream”, then United is unlikely to think for a long time.
Returning to Old Trafford after a loan, it is worth highlighting the Dutchman Tahiti Chong and the Uruguayan Facundo Pelistri. They are not yet ready to compete with the players of the United foundation, which is why they will probably find rental options again. But obviously, there are no hopes for the Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira at Manchester United. Therefore the English will be ready to sell this player if there are reasonable transfer offers.