After beginning a four-part series based upon Manchester United in the transfer market by looking at the goalkeepers, our Michael Burney is back at it today; this time assessing the Red Devils’ defence and possible transfer targets.
Man Utd’s most likely transfer targets in defence:
The summer acquisitions of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have proved to be brilliant business by the club. The England centre-back, signed from Leicester, has been an ever-present in the Premier League, while proving he’s now the best defender at the club.
Slabhead’s a leader who sets the example others should follow. He’s also someone who organises those around him, shoring up the defence single-handedly at times. Some fans feel that the £80m fee was too much, but I’m convinced that the money involved will be forgotten about in the future, particularly after the rest of the backline has been tinkered.
I cannot see any reinforcements being brought into the club to strengthen the defence this winter. Rather, the performances of Chris Smalling on loan at AS Roma will see Solskjaer recall the former England man to the club in the summer.
A potential partnership with Maguire could well blossom, while having Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe as the backup options would look, on paper at least, to be a decent proposition at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence.
The other current options of Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo could and probably should be moved on – either in this window or the next. The injury problems between the three of them have been extensive, none have really staked much claim for starting berths either. They will also command decent transfer fees – which will help when it comes to strengthening other areas.
The full-back spot on the right will be filled by Wan-Bissaka for some time. He’s a cracking defender, who could be amongst the world’s best if he can work o his output in the final third.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ashley Young is given another contract to continue providing experience while being a back-up in numerous positions. Then you have Diogo Dalot who is still learning and growing, though his injury problems are becoming a concern.
The left-hand side is the area which I feel Solskjaer and his staff may well address. The emergence of Brandon Williams this season, given his chance by the manager, has been pleasing and he has put in some brilliant performances which has thrown the future of Luke Shaw into major doubt.
Come the summer, Shaw could well be moved on. A move to West Ham under David Moyes, for example, could be a transfer that would freshen up the player’s career while allowing United to strengthen in the position.
The faith shown in Williams, plus his performances, mean that long-term he will probably be the main man on the left. However, signing someone like Lucas Digne from Everton would be an upgrade in the short-term. The ex-Barcelona man has played well for the Toffees since his arrival and is also adept at taking free-kicks; which is an area that definitely needs addressing.
Other option,s including Leicester’s Ben Chilwell, would prove more expensive and would probably halt Williams’ long-term progression. Therefore, I can’t see any defensive incomings this month, but there could be at least one player going out, with potentially more to follow in the summer. A recall for Smalling is likely and an upgrade on the left have to be the priority.