The summer transfer window promises to be one of the biggest Man United have faced in recent years. Erik ten Hag is already getting his feet under the table, which is a major step in the right direction, but the new manager needs to be supported and backed with the players he wants. Thankfully he has a sizeable fund to go about the much-needed rebuild.
However, the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are all already out the door as their contracts have expired and as such their departures have freed up a lot of space in the squad that needs to be filled.
Ten Hag and the United hierarchy face a race against time to ensure at least some new signings make it through the doors of Old Trafford with enough time to prepare for the oncoming season and with the club is in urgent need to strengthen several key positions, including centre-back, central midfield and upfront, it is essential they make the right calls.
Where should United start?
Realistically there is not a position free from needing strengthening. According to these paypal betting sites, United are 33/1 to win the league, odds that suitably reflect their poor performances and the scale of the job at hand.
Cristiano Ronaldo cannot bear the entire weight of United’s attack, the captain Harry Maguire has embodied United’s defensive frailties, and the Red Devils’ necessity for a dynamic midfield has been evident for far too long now.
The latter is probably the most long-standing issue and the one in most urgent need of addressing. United are crying out for a player who can link the defence with attack exemplified by the midfield’s distinctive mediocrity last season.
When Paul Pogba, a player with only 16 league appearances the previous season, is topping the leaderboard for assists then there is clearly a problem.
With that being said it appears their priority is Frenkie De Jong. A big-money move for the Barcelona midfielder is nearing completion and would reunite the Dutchman with former boss Ten Hag.
Most United fans would hope that a second midfielder would follow the Dutchman in through the doors of Old Trafford, but if that is not the case then the club would have to look internally which may stir up some problems long-term if Ten Hag can’t work some of his magic.
One such option available to them, albeit a bit left field, is Christian Eriksen. Since making an emotional return to professional football in February with Brentford after his cardiac arrest last year, Eriksen has shown why he remains capable of performing in the Premier League.
The Bees’ gamble of signing him on a short-term deal paid off as he put in some exceptional performances towards the backend of the last league season. Eriksen scored one goal and grabbed four assists in just 11 appearances for Brentford helping them secure a second season of Premier League football in the process.
He was the architect of much of their good fortune towards the end of the season and now both United and his former club, Tottenham, are being heavily linked with him on a free transfer.
The Bees are the favourites to keep him, but Spurs and United are currently ranked in second and third, respectively and given United’s structural weaknesses in midfield he would be a valuable addition to the squad.
Ronaldo needs some back-up
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal-scoring record last campaign was the only thing that spared United and their fans any further embarrassment. The iconic forward’s efforts were not enough to avoid the club’s worst ever Premier League finish but spare a thought for where the team would’ve been without him.
Even if the 37-year-old maintained a clean bill of health and stayed fit for the majority of the season he is still in need of some assistance in front of goal and with Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes not hitting the mark, the need is more clear now than ever.
RB Leipzig hotshot Christopher Nkunku was touted as a target earlier in the summer window, having been one of Europe’s most prolific versatile forwards last season with 35 goals and 15 assists.
But the 24-year-old Frenchman’s decision to sign a new contract with the German side- including a £51m release clause which becomes active in 2023 – has seemingly washed away any chances of him signing on the dotted line.
A target that has emerged in his place however is another Brentford player, Ivan Toney. The striker excelled in his first season as a Premier League regular, scoring 12 goals and contributing five assists.
He was instrumental in helping the Bees earn promotion from the Championship in the season prior, scoring 33 goals, and he adapted to life in the top flight with relative ease.
Ronaldo is obviously set to continue as Ten Hag’s first-choice frontman with good cause, but Toney would be a perfect option to call upon in his stead.
Disastrous defence needs massive rehaul
It’s hard to say which one of United’s issues need fixing first but one thing that everyone can be certain of is that United need to leave their calamitous defensive performances behind them.
The Red Devils displayed a cavalcade of comical errors over the course of the season resulting in them conceding 57 goals last term, their worst performance at the back since the Premier League’s inception.
There might be a bit too much work to do to put a fix to it inside one season but they can certainly take steps in the right direction. United have revived their interest in Villarreal centre-back Torres, with the addition of a central defender another of their leading priorities this summer.
The Spaniard was on United’s radar 12 months ago and they were prepared to make a move for him if their attempts to sign Raphael Varane failed. The 25-year-old is considered as one of the best defenders in La Liga and is not short on suitors right now.
It is widely reported that Tottenham Hotspur are also interested in his signature, and the bookmakers have installed the London outfit as the current favourites to sign him ahead of United.
But should Ten Hag be able to lure him away from the capital and up to Manchester he will be a much-needed addition. Whatever they bring in before the first kick-off in August will have to be at their best to turn United’s fortunes around.