Another Premier League summer transfer window has come to an end and it is time to evaluate how Manchester United did. José Mourinho said himself that four signings were a priority earlier in the summer, but United only made it out with three signings in Nemanja Matić, Victor Lindelöf, and Romelu Lukaku. Many people thought United needed more than four signings in order to become a superpower again, so are there still holes to fill? And did the new boys fill the holes they needed to? Let’s talk about the latter first.
The New Boys
Manchester United did make some quality signings this summer in Matić, Lindelöf, and Lukaku. Matić, to start, may have been the most vital. It seems that United now has the best midfield in all of England and a midfield that compares to other European giants. In signing Matić, United got a strong defensive presence who destroys attacks and a player with great passing ability. However, the real gift of Matić is that he gives Paul Pogba the freedom to roam like he wants to in order to be a more attacking presence. The fruits of Matić’s labor are already being seen in this regard, with Pogba already scoring twice this season. Matić had a great spell under Mourinho back at Chelsea and many people thought those days were over, but that incredible form seems to be making an appearance at United as well.
Next, we have Lukaku. Romelu Lukaku is already a top striker in England and, with more exposure to the Champions League, has the potential to become a top striker in all of European football. Having a strong physical presence to lead the attack is something that Jose Mourinho loves on his team and Lukaku fits this mold perfectly. Quick on the counter, creative with his hold up play, and deadly with both feet and in the air, Lukaku is the number nine that can lead United to European dominance once again.
Lastly, we have Lindelöf. This might be the most curious signing of the summer given that Lindelöf has yet to make an appearance for United in league play. Mourinho has been public with his opinion that Lindelöf is not quite ready for the Premier League and therefore is waiting to play him. Lindelöf boasts a great passing ability and is good with the ball at his feet and it seems to be only a matter of time before he gets minutes of his own.
The Holes to Fill
Now, let’s face it: United’s squad is great, but there are still improvements to be made. The most obvious hole that needs filling is the left-back position and the current options seem to be Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, and Matteo Darmian. The only issue with these three names is that the only true left-back is Luke Shaw. Blind and Darmian are playing out of their specialty when placed on the left side, and we can tell. Neither of them really thrive in the left back position and are not an attacking threat like Valencia is on the right side. Shaw has impressed at left-back at times and can be an attacking threat, but Mourinho has been public about not trusting him as a sure starter. Shaw also is injury prone and has not had a consistent run since coming to United back in 2014. This is an area that Mourinho has rotated often, playing several players at left-back, and is one that United should move for in future windows.
Another hole to fill is the attacking wing positions. Martial and Rashford most commonly play left-wing and have had good form there, but neither are trained for the left by trade and both prefer to be more central. On the right wing, Mata, Mkhitaryan, and Lingard are the most common starters, but none have had their best appearances out wide. They all tend to drift inside to try and fill the attacking midfielder role that they are all used to. Because of this, United often lacks width in their attack. Obtaining a true left-wing and right-wing that can provide goals, assists, and spread out the defense is something that United have not had in quite some time, but need to find. Having this type of attacking asset would take United’s front line to the next level.
Manchester United has had a good window. Personally, I’m pleased. However, it is just a stepping stone to what United could be in order to claim European dominance once again. The three additions that were made really do strengthen our squad, but the addition of a consistent attacking left-back and the additions of a couple of true wingers would allow United to become a true threat in all competitions. This season will be a good gauge to see how badly these positions are needed, but I would not be surprised to see a full-back or winger come into United’s squad sometime in the next couple of windows.