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5 Positions Manchester United Need To Strengthen This Summer

How things change in football. Ole Gunnar Solskjær could do no wrong when he took over as caretaker manager, yet since signing a permanent contract United have been at possibly their lowest ebb since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

There are clear gaps in the squad and, with speculation circulating around the futures of a number of players, we analysed the five positions that United might need to strengthen this summer.

 

Goalkeeper

Perhaps an odd starting point given that United currently possess one of the finest goalkeepers in world football but it is far from guaranteed that David De Gea sticks around this summer.

The Spaniard only has a year left on his contract and has been linked with a number of top clubs around Europe. PSG are the latest to have been credited with an interest in De Gea, although it is also rumoured that they have offered Gianluigi Buffon an extension.

Real Madrid have been linked with De Gea for a number of season. He is a Madrid native and only a broken fax machine prevented him from joining Los Blancos in 2015. Real are supposedly rekindling their interest despite signing Thibaut Courtois last summer, the former Chelsea stopper having endured an average season. Admittedly, though, De Gea’s recent dip in form might hurt his chances of a move to the Bernebeu.

Much will depend on whether United can convince De Gea to sign a new contract but, if negotiations break down, may opt to sell for a healthy price this summer rather than lose him for free next year.

Who they might sign: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Jack Butland (Stoke)

 

Centre-Back

Jose Mourinho’s publicly lamented Ed Woodward’s unwillingness to let him splash the cash on a new centre-back last summer. The Portuguese may be famous for his moaning but, on this occasion, he had a point. United have conceded 43 goals in the league this season, nine more than any of their top six rivals and one more than Newcastle.

The huge outlay by Liverpool on Virgil Van Dijk has propelled the Merseysiders into the title race and they have left United in their dust. A similar recruitment drive might be required for United to close the gap this summer, with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly simply not up to the required standard.

Who they might sign: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Eder Militao (Porto), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

 

Defensive Midfielder

Midfield might be the area that sees the greatest turnover for United this summer, with several of their midfielders linked with a move away.

Defensive midfield is certainly an area that Solsjkaer will be hoping to strengthen, with Nemanja Matić seemingly on the slide and Ander Herrera now having said his goodbyes.

United were hesitant to lose the Spaniard, whose committed, dogged displays have been one of the few high points of their season. Yet they will also believe that there are superior options out there.

Who they might sign: Rodri (Atletico Madrid), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), Declan Rice (West Ham), Wilfried Ndidi (Leicester City)

 

Attacking Midfielder

It isn’t just defensive midfield in which United may need to strengthen, both Paul Pogba and Juan Mata have been linked with moves away.

Mata is another whose contract is expiring in the summer and after several years of service, is apparently in talks with Barcelona about a move back to his homeland.

Pogba remains contracted but, despite a recent upturn in his form, continues to agitate for a move to La Liga with either Real Madrid or Barcelona seemingly acceptable destinations.

Rather than keep a player with a track record of sulking to get his own way, Solskjær may decide to sell him to the highest bidder and avoid the drama.

Who they might sign: Saul (Atletico Madrid), Adrien Rabiot (PSG), Miralem Pjanic (Juventus), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

 

Winger

When United swapped Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, it seemed like a deal that suited all parties. The Red Devils, in particular, were excited to bring in an exciting wide player who had scored 60 goals in four Premier League campaigns.

However, things have not gone to plan. Sanchez has failed to adapt to life at Old Trafford and has contributed three goals in 32 United appearances, a miserable return for a player allegedly earning up to £350,000 per week.

United are apparently, and understandably, looking to get Sanchez off their wage bill but it may be easier said than done. With the Chilean now 30, seemingly past his best and with three years remaining on his contract, it could be difficult to find another club willing to foot that wage bill. Presumably Sanchez will not want to take a pay cut.

United arguable need a winger anyway, with a distinct lack of options on the right wing, however should Sanchez go it will be imperative.

Who they might sign: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Douglas Costa (Juventus), Nicolas Pépé

 

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