Where do Man United need to improve?
It is quite apparent to most people that Manchester United still need to improve a number of areas within their squad if they wish to truly challenge for Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues again.
Some of the more obvious areas which the Red Devils need to strengthen in order to mount said challenges are right-wing, centre-back, central midfield and centre-forward.
It is unlikely that United would be able to bring in top-quality players in all four of those positions in just one window.
But if Edinson Cavani extends his contract this summer, that may take some of the pressure of Man United’s need to sign a striker.
Elsewhere, though, it is pretty apparent that Man United could significantly upgrade on Victor Lindelof as Harry Maguire’s main centre-back partner.
At right-wing, United do not really have an experienced natural option there, with Mason Greenwood actually the player to feature in that spot most often this season.
And, with Nemanja Matic now past his best, a no.6-style midfielder should also likely be high on the Manchester outfit’s priorities.
Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Fred gestures during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Of course, there are a number of options Man United could look at all over Europe to strengthen these positions.
However, as most clubs have found out at one time or another, there is always a risk when buying a player without Premier League experience.
Naby Keita is a fairly obvious example, with the former RB Leipzig standout still really yet to showcase his best form nearly three years after his Anfield switch.
Obviously, there is likely to be other factors as to why Keita has not performed at Liverpool, but that risk is always heightened when purchasing players outside of England.
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are also two great examples of this. Both were top stars in Germany, and both set Chelsea back sizable sums – yet neither have shown why the Blues were so eager to sign them.
Yes, both players are likely to improve the longer they stay at Chelsea, but if United want to challenge for the Premier League – which does seem the next logical step after finishing 2nd this season – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. do not really have six months or a year to wait for their signings to come good/ adapt to the English game.
So, one solution to this would be buying within the Premier League. Some downfalls to this, of course, includes the price of players and that they could still struggle to adapt to a new club/manager. But that risk is almost always decreased when you are buying a proven Premier League talent.
Therefore, at 101, we have picked out three Premier League players who could improve Man United next season.
The first of these is Brighton central defender, Ben White.
White is a product of Brighton’s youth system, and has been farmed out on a series of loans, the last of which saw the ball-playing defender seriously impress for Leeds United during their promotion-winning campaign in 2019/20.
Such form, in turn, proved enough for Graham Potter to hand White a chance as part of Brighton’s first-team setup this season.
And the youngster has gone on to grasp the opportunity with both hands, cementing himself as an absolutely integral cog in the club’s backline.
So far, White has started in 32 of Brighton’s 34 league meetings this season. In said ties, White has showcased his calmness in possession, ability to pick a pass over numerous distances and, of course, his defensive prowess.
White is also still 23 years of age and does look to have plenty of room to continue to develop into a top centre-half.
And even though he is still young and English, recent reports suggested that the Seagulls would want around £35m for White, which is a fairly low sum in today’s market given White’s credentials.
Raphinha joined Leeds United during the delayed summer transfer window last year.
The Brazilian has since arguably gone on to prove one of the buys of the window.
Raphinha is a player full of pace, power and enough skill to terrorise most backlines.
This has led to the 24-year-old instantly becoming a key cog in Marcelo Bielsa’s attack, where he has already notched six goals and six assists in 26 league outings.
🤯 Something special isn’t he? pic.twitter.com/8JwuWcclFo
— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 24, 2021
And even in the games where he does not produce a goal contribution, his presence on the pitch and ability to stretch defences, including against Manchester City earlier this month, still proves key to Leeds’ success.
His superb start to life at Elland Road has already seen Raphinha linked with both Liverpool and Manchester United, and though he is unlikely to come cheap, signing Raphinha would give United an experienced, natural right-winger who has already shone in the PL – something they do not have at present.
The purchase of Raphinha would also likely allow Greenwood to be handed more chances in his natural position through the middle.
The final player Manchester United should look to sign is Yves Bissouma.
Bissouma joined Brighton in the summer of 2018, from French outfit Lille.
He has since gone on to notch 87 appearances in all competitions for Graham Potter’s side. Across these outings, the 24-year-old has provided four goals and one assist.
And whilst some may not view Bissouma as a potential Matic replacement as he is slightly more forward-thinking than the Serbian, Bissouma is clearly a top talent who excels both offensive and defensive.
The 24-year-old is confident with the ball at his feet, and more than capable of picking it up from deep to either take players on, or pick out the right pass to a teammate. Bissouma is also a progressive passer, who generally avoiding the sideways option – something players such as Fred are sometimes quite guilty of at United.
And, at the other end of the pitch, Bissouma’s work rate allows him to make those forward runs, yet still get back and help out defensively.
It is also worth pointing out that in the current Brighton system, Bissouma is generally the more defensive-minded central midfield option, alongside someone like Adam Lallana or Pascal Gross, meaning he is already used to having a high defensive workload, which would likely be something he would need to deal with if used in a midfield of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.