News How Manchester United could set up next season

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How Manchester United could set up next season

News How Manchester United could set up next season

With Manchester City and Liverpool having established dominance over the last three seasons, Manchester United have work to do to close the gap.

With Manchester City and Liverpool having established dominance over the last three seasons, Manchester United have work to do to close the gap.

Having urged their fans to stay away from Old Trafford when football returns, here’s how the Red Devils may set up next season.

Goalkeeper

David De Gea looks here for the duration.

He is tied down to an expensive, long-term contract and the point at which Real Madrid, one of the few clubs who could afford to match his wages, would have deemed it worth outlay has passed – Los Blancos now boast a world-class stopper in Thibaut Courtois.

This is bad news for Dean Henderson, who has had an excellent season at Sheffield United and it remains to be seen whether he would be content to stay on in the current circumstances.

Right-back

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is one of the best one-on-one full-backs in world football, evidenced by his performance against Raheem Sterling in United’s 2-1 victory at Manchester City in December.

Diogo Dalot, meanwhile, possesses plenty of enviable technical qualities while Ethan Laird is coming through the ranks too, making the right-back position an exciting area for the Red Devils.

Centre-backs

Harry Maguire is the best centre-back Manchester United have had since Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand; entering the peak of his career, Maguire will be an asset for the next half-decade with his excellent aerial ability and composure in possession.

The question, though, is who should partner him.

Victor Lindelöf, though undoubtedly a great ball-player, can sometimes get bullied and perhaps United need a quick, athletic defender to partner Maguire.

Kalidou Koulibaly has been mentioned but the uncompromising Napoli defender would cost a reported £90 million – a huge outlay for a 28-year-old that wouldn’t fit with the club’s existing vision.

Dayot Upamecano, seven years younger, has a release clause at £53.6 million and he possesses pace, power, ability to organise a defence when flanked by full-backs by trade, quality in possession and, when suitable, a sense of adventure that all elite, modern centre-backs require – a move for the Frenchman might make more business sense.

Left-back

For a long time, Manchester United were hanging their hat on the fitness of Luke Shaw in this position.

The rise of Brandon Williams, though, means United no longer need put all their eggs in the Shaw bucket – Williams brings energy and quality from the left.

Central midfield

January recruit Bruno Fernandes has proved an excellent signing.

January recruit Bruno Fernandes has proved an excellent signing.

The flair of Fernandes, the tenacity of Scott McTominay and the dynamism of Fred has made for a compelling midfield trio.

This makes the midfield situation intriguingly poised for when Paul Pogba returns to fitness.

Pogba is, of course, a hugely gifted footballer who can do things with a ball that only a handful of players in the world are capable of – but he will have to earn his place.

United were reportedly looking at Ivan Rakitic last summer but the 2020 form of Fred, McTominay and Fernandes – as well as James Garner on an impressive rise – means that central midfield is not the primary area they are looking to strengthen.

Right wing

There have been reports that Jadon Sancho is likely to become United’s first summer signing – and the 20-year-old would add so much to their first XI.

While they are not short on right-footed players who like operating on the left, there is a greater dearth of left-footed players who like operating on the left – so Sancho would give them something different.

Full of pace, trickery and quality, Sancho could come to Old Trafford as a champion – he is currently starring for Dortmund, who are 4/1 with Betway as of 20th May to beat Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title.

Sancho has proven to be a very consistent performer in a top European league, which is something we cannot yet say about the talented and versatile Daniel James, who would become more of a squad player as a result of this capture.

Left-wing

Marcus Rashford has enjoyed arguably his best campaign to date.

For much of his time at Old Trafford, he had been competing with well established attacking players like Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and others.

Although he showed promise alongside those players, United do not have as many experienced stars this season and perhaps that has given Rashford the room to become a star himself, scoring 14 goals.

If Sancho does join, United want a centre-forward with the hold-up qualities to bring their excellent wide forwards, as well as Fred and Fernandes or Pogba, into the game.

A permanent offer for 30-year-old Odion Ighalo, offered £400K per week at Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, likely would not fit with their current transfer policy, so the recruitment team make look elsewhere.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Alassane Plea, who is 5’11 but has pace, power and the selflessness to feed his teammates, could be of interest.

If Solskjaer decides that Martial is too individualistic to lead the line for a team with title aspirations, then Plea could be a consideration.

Our predicted best XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Upamecano, Williams; Fred, McTominay, Fernandes; Sancho, Plea, Rashford.

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