With the end of the season approaching comes the resurgence of transfer rumours. Manchester United have a few needs, and the staff of the Busby Babe are here with their shopping lists for a realistic and an ideal summer window.
Writers were given a transfer budget of around £200m to purchase up to 5 players using TransferMarkt values for players.
Feel free to add your own targets in the comments!
Jadon Sancho (£72m) - Not a surprise pick here, and I’m sure others will do the same. Jadon Sancho has had a breakout year for Borussia Dortmund, and has helped elevate the Black and Yellow side to Bundesliga contender status once again. Sancho is, however, English, and could continue proving himself to his former employers (the Noisy Neighbors) by sporting the red half of Manchester instead. He’d be a brilliant addition on the right to complete a front three with Martial and Rashford, giving United a true right winger for the first time since Antonio Valencia’s younger days.
Harry Maguire (£40m) - Premier League proven, on the come-up, and an impactful defender for England and Leicester City (last weekend’s red card being an exception). Maguire is a defender I’ve wanted United to go after since the World Cup, and he could be a long term option to pair with Victor Lindelöf and add depth to a leaky defense.
Ruben Neves (£40m) - Ruben Neves has been a catalyst for Wolves’ surprising arrival to the Premier League. The stability he provides in midfield, precision in the passing game, and excellent work as a defensive cover would provide everything Nemanja Matić was supposed to bring to United.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£25m) - Crystal Palace have stabilized under Roy Hodgson, and Wan-Bissaka has been an important part of that defensively. Right back is a position that needs to be addressed for United with Antonio Valencia moving on this summer, Ashley Young aging, and Diogo Dalot unconvincing, and arguably better as a wide midfielder. This transfer would add Premier League proven talent and depth to a position that has caused United problems this season.
Kieran Tierney (£12m) - His phenom status in Scotland means Tierney probably won’t stay for long. He’s already one of the best players in Celtic’s starting XI, and should be looking to move up soon. Luke Shaw has been much better this season than in previous years, but with his track record of injuries and inconsistency, a little competition for the position would only help United.
N’golo Kanté (£90m) - Kanté hasn’t been able to keep Chelsea afloat in the title race from midfield the past two seasons, and with Maurizio Sarri playing him out of position nearly every week perhaps he’ll be looking to move on. United need a defensive midfielder, why not try for the best in the world? Well, probably because Chelsea’s transfer ban will most likely keep them from selling their best players, but it’s worth a shot.
Kalidou Koulibaly (£60m) - Koulibaly has become one of the best defenders in the world over the last few seasons, and his commanding presence in the back line would be a massive upgrade on Jones or Smalling. Napoli would demand a huge fee, but Koulibaly is worth it.
Isco (£50m) - A Real Madrid outcast for several seasons now, Isco may finally try to jump ship after an abysmal year for Los Blancos, and the return of Zinedine Zidane, who didn’t always use Isco as often as the Spaniard would have liked. With Juan Mata’s form fading United could use another creative midfielder, and he could compliment Paul Pogba and (in this scenario) N’golo Kanté well at the center of the park.
Jadon Sancho, £72m - It’s hard to believe that Dortmund would allow both Christian Pulisic and Sancho to head for the exits this summer, but United reportedly feel confident of their chances. With 9 goals and 17 assists this season, Sancho is a star and could lock down the right wing spot for a decade. Would Dortmund really sell him for less than the Premier League record? transfermarkt.co.uk lists his value as £72m, which seems too good to be true.
Milan Skriniar, £54m - Skriniar has been a rumored target for months and would fill a huge hole in United’s defense. With Barcelona and Real Madrid rumored to be sniffing around, the Reds can’t afford to dawdle on this 24 year-old. Skriniar’s got the needed height and strength, plus the ability to launch attacks from the back.
Ruben Neves, £40m - Neves hasn’t taken the Premier League by storm quite like he did the Championship a season ago, but he remains an impressive prospect. With a strong long-range shot and composed passing skills, Neves fits the mold for a defensive midfielder in the modern game. But will Wolves really sell their star?
Nikola Milenković, £32m - The more defenders, the better. Lindelöf has improved, but needs competition. Often compared to Nemanja Vidić, Milenković’s got all the physical attributes to be a fixture in central defense. Unlike Lindelöf and Skriniar, though, he’s all about defense, with no game going forward. I think he’ll cost more than this.
Paulo Dybala, £90m - Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Turin pushed Dybala out wide, dropping his goals from 26 last season to just 9 so far in 2018/19. He’s still a good age to hit the ground running in the Premier League, but with plenty of time left in his prime. If he’s really available, expect a massive bidding war among the European elite.
Virgil van Dijk, £67.5m - Okay, this obviously isn’t happening. But van Dijk has been a revelation at Anfield, transforming Liverpool into the best defensive team in the Premier League. Their attackers get all the press, but Liverpool lead the league in goals allowed and most of that’s down to VVD’s dominance and leadership.
Adrien Rabiot, £32m* - An ideal midfielder for Solskjaer’s style of play, effortlessly linking defense to attack. Other big clubs are circling — especially with his PSG exit all but assured — and Rabiot might get better offers than United can afford.
[*Ed.: Rabiot will be available on a free transfer this summer, but we’ve seen in the past with agents’ fees and sign-on bonuses that “free” transfers are anything but.]
Realistically, in a world where we we’re not able to completely rebuild the spine and back end of our starting XI in one transfer window, I think we still go after a splashy attacker, one or two veterans, and one exciting defender.
Jadon Sancho (£72 million): Signing Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund will eat up at least half of our transfer budget if not two-thirds, but it’s also a move that United should make. Sancho is the most exciting young English player not named Marcus Rashford, and the pairing of those two players will solidify the United attack for years. Sancho brings pace and creativity to the right wing — two attributes sorely missing on that side of the field. The arrival of Sancho will open up room for Martial, Rashford and Pogba to create on the left and in the center of the pitch. On top of Sancho being a great strategic fit, the thought of turning the former Manchester CIty youth player on his former club is a delicious proposition.
Kostas Manolas (£40.5 million): Manolas is in the prime of his career and will turn 28 in the summer. Currently, his Roma contract carries a £30 million release clause and is popping up as a cheaper defensive target for United in the same vein as Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld. When compared on whoscored.com, both players rate as solid defenders, with Manolas rating higher as a better aerial defender, but both players apprehensive to dive into tackles. I like Manolas more than Alderweireld because he’s a longer-term fix at the position.
Ivan Rakitić (£39 million): United have been loosely linked with a £39 million move for Barcelona’s Rakitić. The Croatian playmaker would be another direct free-kick threat for the Red Devils, while also providing world-class service through the midfield. His addition would also allow Pogba to play in a more advanced role as a pseudo-center forward to breakdown the opposing defense.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£22.5 million): Wan-Bissaka has been an absolute beast on the right side of Crystal Palace’s defense. The 21 year-old’s play this season has been at such a high level that his omission in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad has sparked controversy. AWB doesn’t sport the same offensive capabilities as his contemporaries at the position, but he immediately frees up the right flank that Solskjaer has had to play both Diogo Dalot and Ashley Young simultaneously to plug up the defensive holes on that side. Sancho will be able to operate freely without tracking back as far thanks to AWB’s coverage.
Adrien Rabiot (Free transfer): Credit to Full Time Devils’ Abdul Ghaleiw for calling attention to this one. United can try their luck again by bringing in another former Paris Saint-Germain player on a free transfer as Rabiot’s contract expires in June. Rabiot has talent as a defensive midfielder which is overshadowed by his disposition. Picking up Rabiot to help Nemanja Matić could be a really heady move in terms of finances and talent if Solskjaer can work his talents as a man manager with the embattled Frenchman.
The remaining £26 million I have available should be dedicated to paying David De Gea and Ander Herrera. For the love of god, get these players on new contracts, Ed.
My ideal transfer follows many of the same threads as my realistic with one exception. Keeping the £200 million budget in mind without factoring in the money coming in from selling the flotsam such as Alexis and Marcos Rojo, we’ll have to take out a couple names to make room for the biggest addition in my idealistic list.
N’Golo Kanté (£90 million): Chelsea is in a weird state of flux and may need to move pieces around to either support Sarri or create a big spending budget for a new manager before the transfer ban comes down. United can right the wrong of not signing Kanté on the cheap in the same summer as Paul Pogba to create maybe the best midfield duo in the world. Kanté can finally play his natural position again while taking immense pressure off of United’s defense.
Jadon Sancho (£72 million): From a marketing perspective, imagine all the great videos the social account will be able to post when Pogba and Lingard take Sancho under their wing. Also, it can’t be discounted that half of the England National Team’s attack will be starting for United. It’s time to win back hearts and minds.
CB Kostas Manolas (£40.5 million): The Transfermarkt values don’t quite equate here, but if you factor that aforementioned release clause, we can still wiggle Manolas in this scenario.
CM Adrien Rabiot (Free transfer): Adding midfield depth with Champions League experience without having to pay a transfer fee is just too tempting to pass up — especially when he pairs up with fellow frenchmen Kanté and Pogba.
Kylian Mbappé’s right foot (£200 million): United have a gaping hole on the right of the attack, need at least two first team signings in midfield, and are a top class center back and right back away from being able to even compete for trophies. Mbappé solves precisely none of those issues, and a signing of his magnitude would almost surely preclude the club being able to meaningfully invest in any of those aforementioned positions, outside of cut-price deals and extending the contracts of subpar players already on the books. So what. Mbappé! £200 million will never get the deal done from PSG, so maybe we can get one foot this summer, and the sort the other in summer 2020.
Kylian Mbappé (£180 million): See above.
Alexis Sánchez (£20 million): Contract buyout settlement, mutually agreed upon by both parties. Please, please go away.