Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have faced uphill battles in the transfer market to overhaul the ageing squad the Scot left behind.
And they’ve not been too successful. David Moyes didn’t do enough, and Louis van Gaal bought extremely poorly, as well as some questionable sales from the Theatre of Dreams.
Jose Mourinho’s first transfer window has to be classed as a success. Eric Bailly has established himself as the club’s best centre-back with a string of terrific displays. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a dynamic attacker who has shown flashes of his brilliance, but needs to add some consistency. Paul Pogba is the catalyst to all United attacks and the chief playmaker in the team. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic is by far and away United’s top goalscorer this term, and carried the Red Devils in the EFL Cup final.
However, a season which will see Manchester United play over 60 games has exposed a lack of quality in some of the squad players, so an overhaul of the squad is necessary to ensure the depth is there to make a challenge on all fronts next year. Here are the changes I would make:
Daley Blind: The Dutchman has proved to be the jack of all trades but the master of none. Capable of playing at centre-back, left-back and defensive midfield, Blind hasn’t established himself in any one of those positions. While his versatility may be useful, he hasn’t shown enough to earn a place in a squad challenging for titles.
Matteo Darmian: After a promising start at Old Trafford, a man of the match display on his debut no less, Darmian has failed to cement his place in the side. His versatility is also handy to any manager, but he’s a passive defender, never on top of an attacker, and never venturing forward to help with attacks.
Phil Jones: Once a promising centre-back at Blackburn, Jones’ time at Old Trafford hasn’t been a success. Laden with consistent injuries, he’s been unable to get a decent run of games in the side. Despite a return to fitness this term, a string of defensive errors and yet another long-term injury will surely spell the end for Jones.
Chris Smalling: The club’s most solid defender under Louis van Gaal, Smalling has stagnated under Jose Mourinho. The same shaky, wobbly defensive performances that plagued his early United days have returned, to combine with the abysmal distribution that has been stuck with him throughout his time at Old Trafford.
Marouane Fellaini: The Belgian’s spell in Manchester has been nothing short of a car crash. From clumsy defensive work, to careless attacking play, Fellaini has proved a waste of £27 million. The jeering he received from his own fans after giving away a last minute penalty at former employers Everton helped to show him the door, but the red card in the Manchester Derby for headbutting Sergio Aguero should kick him out of it.
Ashley Young: The former England international has been a good servant to the club since his move in 2011. Featuring as either a winger or a full-back, Young puts in a great shift whenever he is called upon. Sadly, he lacks the quality nowadays to command a place in a squad that challenges for titles.
Adnan Januzaj: Since bursting onto the scene under David Moyes, Januzaj has followed in the footsteps of Federico Macheda, rather than Marcus Rashford. Uninspiring displays, and an inability to break into the Sunderland team that were comfortably relegated will see the Belgian sold in the summer.
Wayne Rooney: Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer should be on the way out this summer. Despite 252 goals, many major honours and a legendary career, Rooney’s impact on the team is now more detrimental than it is beneficial. Just the three Premier League starts since December proves that, despite scoring in his last two appearances.
Serge Aurier: The Ivorian may have run into trouble in his personal life in Paris, but a fresh start would do him the world of good, to return him to being one of the most promising full-backs in the world. The Red Devils would have to fight Barcelona for his signature, but rumours suggest the player is keen on a move to Old Trafford. Depth in this area to help the workhorse Antonio Valencia will be essential for next season.
Michael Keane: The young English centre-back will leave Burnley at the end of the season, having proved former employers United wrong when they chose to sell him. An accomplished passer of the ball, Keane has all the potential to be a world-class centre-back at Old Trafford. A move for their former starlet would make sense for the Red Devils.
Raphael Varane: When Mourinho brought Varane to the Bernabeu, he had the world at his feet. However, his time at Real Madrid hasn’t been a complete success. He’s been unable to break past Pepe into the first team, and has struggled with injuries. A good relationship with the Portuguese boss, as well as strong rumours that there has been contact regarding this deal suggests the move makes a lot of sense.
Alex Grimaldo: Left-back is a position that no-one in the United squad has made their own this term, and Grimaldo could be the man to do that. The Spaniard has moved on from not making it at Barcelona and established himself in a successful Benfica side. A potential deal would be expensive but United’s finances could make it happen.
Blaise Matuidi: Matuidi is an experienced midfielder with all the tools to help guide United towards greatness. Greater depth is needed in midfield and Matuidi can provide this, along with the leadership skills that came from being a senior player at PSG. He would be available for under £15 million which makes his signature extremely lucrative.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: A midfield enforcer, Bakayoko has been pivotal to a Monaco side that has stunned Europe by progressing into the semi-finals of the Champions League. With half of Europe courting his signature, the deal would be expensive but Bakayoko would be an extremely effective partner for Paul Pogba in the United midfield for years to come.
Anderson Talisca: Brazilian’s haven’t had too much success at Old Trafford down the years, with Kleberson and Anderson two high profile examples of South American flops at the Theatre of Dreams. The starlet has been linked with a move to Manchester for years now, but his impressive displays at Besiktas have only strengthened rumours of a move.
Ryan Sessegnon: Lighting up the Championship with Fulham, Sessegnon is the hottest property in the country right now. At just 16-years of age, he has the world at his feet as the Londoners attempt to climb back into the Premier League. A move to Old Trafford could be the making of him, which would probably result in a loan move back to Craven Cottage to further establish his credentials.
Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean has been Arsenal’s best player by a country mile as the Gunners have floundered under Arsene Wenger this term. The age, and the long-term injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic means United need a talisman to play up front. Marcus Rashford isn’t quite ready to carry United from the number 9 position, so Sanchez should be target number one this summer. Looking certain to leave Arsenal, the Chilean’s winning mentality could be infectious on a United side that has looked so close yet so far to real success this year.
Which of these changes wouldn’t you make? What should United do? Let us know in the comments below!