Latest on Manchester United’s Transfer business
This is an amazing thing to write, but Manchester United are … in a decent place! After the all the upheaval of Post-Fergie Wilderness Years™, it’s now extremely clear what they need and what they’re likely to do. Finally, someone has a plan.
In goal, United are set, more or less. David de Gea’s level has slipped over the last couple of seasons and it seems unlikely that, at his big age, he’ll overcome his fear of crosses and stop botching clearances. Had he not been given a big contract, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might’ve been tempted to cash in and hand over to Dean Henderson, but the likelihood is that Henderson will have to wear at least one more loan before returning to Old Trafford to inherit the number 1 jersey.
Last summer, Solskjaer will have known that the Glazer family were limiting his budget for the sake of their own dividends, and though United’s principal problems were in midfield, he nevertheless spent the majority of what he had on the defence. That you build a team from the back is probably more of an opinion than a truism, but United are certainly better for it, and as such, will only add to the squad if a a serious centre-back becomes available – Victor Lindelöf is sometimes good, but is nowhere near what United had when they were good.
We’re all friends here, so can confide in one another that Harry Maguire isn’t either. But he has been superb since the turn of the year and, given a u-turn speed roughly that of Boris Johnson, would benefit from a partner with recovery pace. Dayot Upamecano is under consideration, but Leipzig are already selling Timo Werner to Chelsea, so given the likely price and Upamecano’s penchant for error, United might prefer to gamble on Eric Bailly staying fit and staying calm, or see what Axel Tuanzebe has to offer.
Of the centre-backs currently on United’s books, Chris Smalling is actually the best partner for Maguire, but he will, most likely, join Roma permanently. United would, undoubtedly, like to sell Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones too, but the statue market has taken a downturn.
What happens in United’s midfield is contingent on Paul Pogba. Most likely, he would like to leave and the club would pack his suitcase, but in a pre-corona world no one had the money, so in a post-corona world the two are probably stuck with each other. Assuming that’s the case, it seems unlikely that big money will be spent on an attacking midfielder, so Jack Grealish might only arrive if Aston Villa going down forces his price to do likewise. And in any event, United might deem the younger and drier Donny van der Beek a more sensible option, or might decide that they’ve got enough going forward and seek to upgrade on Fred and Scott McTominay, perhaps with Brescia’s Sandro Tonali.
That United would like to sign Jadon Sancho is not news. They have needed a right-winger for the best part of a decade now, and Sancho would be a perfect purchase: young, English, brilliant and extremely marketable. Though Liverpool and Real Madrid are also interested, United are offering most money, but the player will only come if they qualify for the Champions League.
If Sancho does arrive, it seems unlikely that the Glazers would sign off on the purchase of Kai Havertz. The likelihood is that he’ll end up at Bayern Munich, which would suit the suits, but should he come to England, United might get involved on the basis that he is far too good a player to let go to Chelsea.
In attack, United are probably an elite striker light. Anthony Martial has a lot of ability but is injured and listless too often. Depending on what happens in the next few weeks, he has probably earned himself another season, but Solskjaer might decide he wants one more body, in which case Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé is an option but Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard is probably better and definitely cheaper.
Daniel Harris (@DanielHarris)