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This will be the Manchester United starting XI in 2020/21

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We analyzed the current squad and the most reliable transfer rumors, and put together a likely team for next season

Eye sore illustrated by Nathan Heintschel

Day after day, COVID-19 is keeping the sports world on pause. Who knows when it’s ever going to come back. The only thing we do know is that, eventually, there will be a transfer window, and eventually there will be a next season.

Transfer windows are fun. We get to speculate on who we can sign to improve the team. Despite all the chaos in the world, that hasn’t stopped. It seems like every day I’m seeing new headlines about Jadon Sancho or Jack Grealish getting ever closer to signing at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have other needs too, and if you look at the other players that have been heavily linked to Old Trafford, we can start to predict what next year’s first choice XI will look like.

Some signings may hinge on qualifying for the Champions League. Plus, we all know that Mr. Woodward likes to conduct deals one at a time, so it’s possible that causes us to miss out on one or two guys.

Nevertheless, it feels like United are in a good place right now and can get most of these deals done. Even if they miss out on one or two (and they certainly will), based on the players we’ve been linked with, United should have a deep group of players to choose from when the next season kicks off.

Here’s how I’d line ‘em up.

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

I really hate to do this. David de Gea is one of my favorite players and was the lone consistent bright spot during the club’s dark years. But his form has taken a beating this past year. Look at the difference in post-shot xG +/- between him and Henderson.

Minus 0.2! Yikes. Henderson is coming in at a cool +6.5, which basically means, based on the xG of shots that are on target, Henderson should have conceded 6.5 more goals than he has. He’s a difference maker back there, and it’s his time.

It will be a little harsh on De Gea to have his contract canceled just one year before being due a testimonial, but the club needs to move on.

Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Kalidou Koulibaly, Matthijs de Ligt, Max Aarons

Paul Pogba goes off to Juventus and coming the other way is Matthijs de Ligt. In a big money deal like that, you have to play the new signing. He slots in right next to the other big money center back Koulibaly, one of the best defenders in the world who easily walks into the XI.

Left-back has long been a problem spot for United and Chilwell solves that. On the other side, Aarons, a now Premier League proven right-back, gives United a young up and coming player on the flank.

Okay, I’ll be honest. There is one thing I’m unsure about here. Between Koulibaly and De Ligt, I don’t know which one of them will play the on the right and who will play on the left.

Midfield: Declan Rice, Denis Zakaria

“Ugh not Declan Rice!” says The Busby Babe’s Nathan Heintschel. “Rice is going to Chelsea anyway,” say the rest of you.

Look, we know the only alternative is Sean Longstaff. Well, this is Declan Rice...

And this is Sean Longstaff...

And this is Sean Longstaff in limited minutes last season when he wasn’t as crap (for a variety of reasons, but most likely due to a managerial change and playing a system that completely doesn’t fit him)...

That’s a pretty big difference, and because of that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will figure out a way to get Rice over the line so he can have his big British midfielder. He’ll form a great partnership with Zakaria.

Attackers: Jadon Sancho, James Maddison, Jack Grealish

Everyone knows these are transfer targets one, two, and three. Sancho gives United that right wing presence they so desperately crave, while Grealish and Maddison bring creativity to United’s attack.

Most importantly, they all fit Solskjaer’s main transfer criteria: young and British. Brexit FC, let’s go!

Striker: Harry Kane

The man has 136 Premier League goals in 198 appearances. He’s the England captain. He’s won the Premier League golden boot twice and the World Cup golden boot. At 26 years old he walks into the starting XI of any Premier League side that doesn’t have Sergio Aguero. Only an idiot wouldn’t want United to do everything they can to install Harry Kane up front.

With Maddison, Grealish, and Sancho behind him he’ll become an instant Old Trafford hero, and in all likelihood, after a year spent developing chemistry together, Gareth Southgate will ride this foursome to glory at Euro 2021.

Possible Substitutes Bench

Lee Grant, Phil Jones, Thomas Partey, Saúl Ñíguez, Jude Bellingham, Lionel Messi, Erling Braut Håland.