What do Manchester United need in the summer?
All in all a solid season but Manchester United definitely need some important signings to become a proper title-challenging team.
Each of these positions need to be 100% upgraded but there still needs to be an order of urgency. For reasons I will cover below, the priority is – in my opinion – RW, ST, CB, CDM cover for RB.
Over the course of this season , the right wing has been occupied by 6 different players – all of which are not natural wingers. It is hard for Wan-Bissaka (AWB) to build up a relationship with any player as the right wing spot is rotated week after week. United have not signed a natural RW since Antonio Valencia in 2009. and this needs to be solved now.
United use 43% of possession attacking down the left hand side compared to 31% down the right. Shaw has also created 55 key chances in the Premier league this season, eclipsing AWB’s 23. While solid defensively, AWB is not the most attacking full-back so United need a creative, direct right winger who can provide that balance on the right side. The issue with no natural RW is that well drilled teams can identify Shaw and Rashford as the main outlets on the left, man marking them out of the game. This makes United predictable as opponents know that if they can nullify the left side they stand a far greater chance of winning the game. Defensive teams congest the centre tactically leaving the onus to our right hand side who lack that attacking quality with their final ball. There have been countless times this season with United being held 0-0 by a smaller team parking the bus but not being able to find a way through. Being a threat from both wings with fast, aggressive play has always been a key feature of any United team in order to stretch compact teams with a low defensive line – this makes signing a RW a no brainer.
The obvious choice is Sancho for this position but if Borussia Dortmund were to play hardball again United should look to bring in Saint-Maximin. I am a massive fan of his ability to take on his man and his end product is getting better. In those games against smaller teams who pack 11 men behind the ball, a player like Sancho would make the difference with quality of delivery and ability to unlock the defence.
Is the right player available? I genuinely believe there are only 2 players that can improve the team which would justify breaking the bank for – Erling Haaland and Harry Kane. Otherwise we should wait til next season for the right player to be available instead of wasting money. If neither of them are available at the right price this summer then United should shift Greenwood to no.9 as an option with Cavani. Hypothetically, signing a RW would free up Mason Greenwood to play in his preferred position of striker anyway where his natural ability to strike a football cleanly will not be wasted.
That said, if Cavani leaves then United will need 2 signings upfront. I don't think anyone is huge on Danny Ings, but if Cavani does end up leaving, then signing a player like him with his contract running down might be the best course of action due to requirements elsewhere. An alternative could be Raul Jimenez if he is still the same player after his injury. Signing on of these 2 as backup even if Cavani doesn’t leave would also be good business if we are to wait for Haaland and Kane to be more affordable the year after.
Despite early season issues United have been fairly solid at the back this season for most games compared to last season. Maguire and Lindelof might not be the best partnership in the world but they have definitely both improved confidence and performance wise. I would agree 100% that United need to strengthen at the back but CB is the most stocked position at the club so a clear out is needed first. Maguire and Lindelof are both decent centre backs in their own right it’s just that they don’t complement each other as well as other defensive pairings.
Again, the question is – is the right player available this summer and does the budget stretch to that? I would go for Jules Kounde, he is young, quick and has great defensive positioning. If he is available or a player such as Varane, United should not hesitate to make a signing here. There are also lots of promising youngsters such as Tuanzebe and Mengi who have come through this season who I want to see more of. Also our best centre back in my opinion is Eric Bailly , it’s such a shame he is rarely match fit but I would like to see him used more when he is!
The Red Devils need a player who is solid defensively but can also play out the back under pressure and have a high quality range of passing. McTominay and Fred are solid players who I would love to still be part of the club but we need more quality in the first XI. The ideal signing would be Declan Rice as he also fulfils the homegrown quota while being an effective defensive shield. Jesse Lingard is on loan at West Ham and has been putting in great performances so a swap deal looks likely here. Ndidi would be up there with my first choice but Leicester are known to play hardball and will just hike up the fee astronomically. Lastly, I would definitely be happy if United signed Bissouma from Brighton. He is a solid player who has adapted well to England, standing out in a poor team and he is only 24.
At right back the need to recruit is less pressing with promising Ethan Laird and Brandon Williams waiting in the wings for next season, United just need to integrate these players more with the first team if no signing is made as Wan-Bissaka plays too many games currently. If a signing does need to be made , an attacking fullback such as Jesus Corona could provide valuable cover for AWB.
Football is unpredictable game so this order may change based on injuries and which players are actually available in the market. For example if the right centre back is available and the right striker isn't then centre back will take priority.
However being well aware of how the United board and Ed Woodward are I am not getting my hopes up! Getting one or two of these key positions sorted is unfortunately the reality as a fan.