Manchester United’s transfer strategies in recent seasons have been erratic and simply confusing. They have spent more than £700m in player transfers since 2013, but are still far from the level the likes of Liverpool and City have set. A major issue was with the players brought into the club and how they have simply failed to perform at the level required. The defensive frailties have not been heeded for a number of years now, the backline crying out for a commanding center-back and dynamic full backs. The issues at the centre of the pitch have also not been addressed, with a dearth of the energetic, box to box midfielders.
The likes of Lingard and Matic simply haven’t cut it, even mega-money signing Paul Pogba has been woefully inconsistent. The money invested has been spent on the wrong players consistently, ones who are not good enough for a club of United’s stature, or have simply not gotten used to the pace of the Premier League. Of course, there have been the odd ones who have shone, read Zlatan, Matic, Martial, and Lindelof(to an extent). However, this number pales in comparison to the number of flops the club has produced over the last seasons(Di Maria, Darmian, Depay, not to mention Alexis Sanchez, the former Arsenal superstar, who, on the payroll of £500k per week, scored 3 goals in 32 appearances last season.
Add to that an aging and stale squad with neither enough drive and determination, or even firepower to maintain a push for the top. The squad needs a massive overhaul, with too many players like Rojo, Young, Darmian, Smalling, and Jones underperforming, despite being on lofty pay packages. Even David de Gea, United’s best player in recent years has struggled for form after the 2018 World Cup, but is still set to sign a new deal to keep him at the club.
Ole: The manager they needed?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had seemingly breathed new life into this aging and under fire squad, ever since his appointment as caretaker/manager in November 2018. His brand of direct, high-pressing football was a breath of fresh air as compared to Jose Mourinho’s defensive mindset. The players looked fresh and rejuvenated, winning their first six games under him, also setting a new record for most points by a manager in their first ten games. The team even beat the Paris Saint-Germain side in the Champions League Round of 16, before being eliminated painfully, by Barcelona. That started an all too familiar sink in form, with just two wins in the final ten games. United finished a dismal 6th in the Premier League, with no Champions League football next season.
So where to from here? What transfers need to happen? What policy should Ole adopt to ensure development from here on out?
For the foreseeable future, Manchester United intend to put their faith in youth. With much talk about potential new arrivals at Old Trafford, it's emerged that a new transfer strategy has been put in place at United to prevent a repeat of Alexis Sanchez's disappointing switch to the Red Devils last January. According to a report from the Mirror, United have a new policy against signing players over the age of 28 moving forward. It is certainly a bold move by vice executive chairman Ed Woodward, but if there’s anything United need right now, it would be fresh blood and energy.
Welsh winger Daniel James and highly regarded English right-back Aaron wan-Bissaka have already joined, from Swansea and Crystal Palace, for fees of £15million and £50million, respectively. Harry Maguire, Leicester City’s powerful and adept centre back, has also been the subject of United’s as well as other top clubs’ attention. He is expected to join in the coming days with Leicester holding out for a hefty sum of £80 million. He would add leadership to the rearguard, and be the ball-playing centre back they have been crying out for in recent seasons. United are also expected to land the highly-rated Sporting Lisbon midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, who scored an astonishing 25 goals from midfield last season, not to mention 13 assists. He fits the mold of young players who are on their way to stardom, which is exactly what Ole and United need. Perhaps the most exciting news being circulated right now, however, is that Argentine superstar Paulo Dybala is set to arrive, as part of an exchange deal involving Romelu Likaku to Juventus. If they can actually pull this off, it would see them go into the new season with a mouth-watering front three of Dybala, Rashford, and Martial, in a new-look United side.
Solskjaer has already shown in pre-season how much faith he has in the youth, giving regular game time to the likes of Andreas Pereira, Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, and Axel Tuanzebe who are all expected to play their roles in the upcoming season.
If the deals for Maguire, Dybala, and Fernandes can be done, and Solskjaer can convince Pogba to not depart for Madrid, the squad certainly looks capable enough to put the pressure on the top of the Premier League. Dybala will flourish in the free number 10 role, being a regular goal-scoring option from midfield, which the team has lacked immensely. Maguire and wan-Bissaka will add the organization and energy the United defense desperately needs.
It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the transfer window pans out for Woodward and Solskjaer, and how they manage to integrate the signings into the Man U way, to take this club back to the top where they belong.