How many transfer windows and signings Manchester United need to complete squad overhaul
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might not have got the number of signings he wanted at Manchester United this summer, but the revolving door at Carrington has still barely stopped spinning.
Solskjaer is planning for the long-term at Old Trafford and having talked of a “rebuild” being required at the club towards the end of last season, he has begun by demolishing the foundations this summer.
While United made only three senior signings this summer, six senior players have departed, either on permanent or temporary deals. Throw in Marouane Fellaini, who left in January without a replacing being signed, and United are four senior players down since Solskjaer arrived at the club.
The Norwegian candidly admitted on Friday that he was one short in terms of attacking numbers. Given United were keen to nudge Romelu Lukaku towards the exit door and have allowed Alexis Sanchez to follow him to Inter Milan on loan, it was a brave admission. That lack of numbers could easily have been avoided.
But it was also an insight into how Solskjaer wants to rebuild this side. He is happy to be shallow in numbers if he feels he has offloaded players who either didn’t fit his system, or were becoming a negative influence on the club.
It is a long-term approach, but football is increasingly a short-term game. While Solskjaer is accelerating the rebuild by swinging the axe this summer, he knows results are the only currency by which he will be able to see the job through.
But how far are United away from completing that task now? Here’s what they need to do in each position in the squad:
United’s biggest priority between the sticks is to confirm David de Gea’s new contract. When the Spaniard commits his long-term future to the club then the goalkeeping ranks at the club are looking very secure.
In Sergio Romero United already have one of the Premier League’s best back-up goalkeepers, while Dean Henderson has a bright future and is enjoying his first experience of top flight football on loan at Sheffield United.
Ideal squad: De Gea, Romero, Henderson
Having spent more than £120million on the defence this summer United are now looking much more secure at the back, although there have been teething problems still.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot should battle it out at right-back for years to come. Luke Shaw is the first choice on the opposite flank, although competition is needed at left-back. In the middle United have Victor Lindelof, who can hopefully rediscover his best form soon, and Harry Maguire , with Alex Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly, once fit, providing cover.
Marcos Rojo is somehow still clinging on to his own United career, but he should be departing soon enough, along with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
In: A new left-back
Out: Rojo, Smalling, Jones, Young
Ideal squad: Wan-Bissaka, Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Bailly, Shaw, new left-back.
How United rebuild their midfield depends on the future of Paul Pogba . As expected he has remained at Old Trafford this summer, but there is still a feeling that this is a temporary move unless United can prove they really are on the right track – and quickly – this season.
Aside from Pogba United can count on Scott McTominay in midfield, but there are other options aren’t as reliable. Fred needs to make a success of this season to extend his Old Trafford career, while the jury is out on Nemanja Matic as well. Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard can play at the top of a midfield three or in attack, but all of them have slight question marks over their long-term viability.
In: A new defensive midfielder and a new attacking midfielder
Ideal squad: Pogba, McTominay, Fred, new DM, new AM, Mata, Pereira, Lingard
United are short of numbers in attack now and will remain so if Sanchez makes a permanent departure from the club next summer.
In Marcus Rashford , Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood they have three young forwards whose places in the squad look secure, while Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes are also close to the first team picture.
But United need at least one new senior attacker to strengthen the ranks.
In: A new forward
Ideal squad: James, Martial, Gomes, Chong, Greenwood, Rashford, new forward
To create this ideal squad United at least four new signings, perhaps more if there any more departures, and need to sell at least five more players. If Solskjaer can enjoy a successful January then by the end of next summer’s transfer window he might just have a United squad he can truly call his own.
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