Manchester United have been major protagonists of almost every transfer window in recent years.
The Red Devils are always sniffing around the biggest deals of the summer or winter and are linked with a hell of a lot more players than they are actually interested in signing.
It’s fairly clear what Man Utd need during the summer window in 2023 and there is optimism given the 2022/23 campaign was a positive one under Erik ten Hag. That being said, the window is bumbling along with the dark cloud of an ownership change hanging over it as the battle to buy Man Utd trudges on. It won’t be over before the end of the transfer window, either.
United have got the Mason Mount deal sorted even with confusion around ownership and budgets and there is now a need to get other areas addressed before the action gets underway, and preferably before pre-season, too.
Here are six players Man Utd are tracking and should intensify their pursuits of now they have finished negotiating for Mount.
There are two positions Man Utd simply must address properly before the end of the window and one of them is in attack.
They absolutely need a new striker, as was the case in January. Wout Weghorst came in on an emergency loan, which was not a failure of a move but hardly something they’ll want to do again.
Marcus Rashford is at his best coming in off the left and Anthony Martial could be sold, leaving nobody else. If we discount Harry Kane on this occasion given Bayern Munich is the more likely destination, Victor Osimhen is the best striker on the market this summer.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is expected to demand a huge outlay of around £130m, but the the Nigerian looks worth it. He could solve the striker problem for a very long time given he is 24 years old and scored 31 goals last season.
This is the other position United simply must address. David de Gea’s contract will soon expire while he’s away getting married. Talks continue but it’s looking more and more likely that he will be heading elsewhere.
There’s no natural successor at the club given the relationship with Dean Henderson has all but perished, so that means the Red Devils must buy a quality goalkeeper. United seem to be the frontrunners to sign Inter’s Andre Onana, who had a wonderful first season in Italy.
He’s a chaotic goalkeeper at times but a superb shot stopper and knows how to play with the ball at his feet, which can’t be said for De Gea. Around €50m could be enough for the Cameroonian and Inter would sell for the right price, so the ball is in United’s court.
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This is the riskiest option of the forwards linked with United, but Rasmus Hojlund is nonetheless an extremely exciting player. He signed for Atalanta last summer for €17.2m after scoring just six senior goals for Sturm Graz.
Hojlund netted on his second Atalanta performance on but then failed to net again until January. He finished the season in good form, however, ending the Serie A campaign with nine goals. He is frighteningly fast, tall, strong and, while still a very rough diamond, could be a lethal finisher in years to come.
The price for the Dane seems to be rising and rising – Atalanta could ultimately end up with anything between €50m and €90m. It would be a huge outlay for an inexperienced striker who doesn’t have the guarantee of success other targets do for all his promise.
This sort of signing is not a necessity but it would be wise if the budget allows for it after a striker and a goalkeeper have been signed.
Phil Jones almost never featured for Man Utd but his departure removes the last line of depth. Harry Maguire may also depart and that just leaves Victor Lindelof as a backup to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
Quality depth in that area is needed and Varane is fairly injury prone. Monaco’s Axel Disasi has looked ready for a move to the Premier League for some time and it seems natural he makes the move now at 25 years old. He played 48 club games in 2022/23 and got an impressive six goals from defence.
Disasi may be available for around €40m and, if the budget allows for it, could be the understudy and eventual replacement for Varane.
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
The final striker target on the list and the middle ground between the proven Osimhen and the inexperienced Hojlund is Randal Kolo Muani.
The Frenchman is 24 years old and coming into his prime. While he hasn’t proven himself at a bigger club than Eintracht Frankfurt, Kolo Muani has scored lots of goals over three seasons and could command a hefty £80m fee.
Kolo Muani scored 23 goals in all competitions last season and got 12 and nine efforts respectively in his two Ligue 1 seasons with Nantes before moving to Germany. He’s ready for his next step.
The final target takes us back to midfield after Mount’s arrival and more specifically the base of midfield. Given United have Casemiro on the books, it’s hard to imagine them buying a deep player who slots right into the team ahead of the Brazilian.
Targeting a younger player who is willing to spend a year rotating with other midfielders and learning might be a better option. Given the figures that have been bid in the past for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, he may not be willing to do that. A 19-year-old Romeo Lavia, however, with just one Premier League season of experience may be ideal.
This would be a pricey deal which may need to wait until next summer given the need for a goalkeeper and a striker, but United are hard to read in terms of spending power and willingness this summer.
On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss Man Utd’s decision to remove a contract offer for David de Gea and replace it with inferior terms. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
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