Champions League

How Manchester United can challenge for the Premier League next season

How Manchester United can challenge for the Premier League next season

It has been a very encouraging campaign for Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s Manchester United. A second-placed finish in the Premier League is an improvement on last season, and they could yet add a European trophy to their collection as they face Unai Emery’s Villareal in the Europa League final.

Second place, however, is not where the club wants to be, certainly not when the team ahead of them are their cross-city neighbours and biggest rivals. With Liverpool sure to improve from after a poor season, and Chelsea seemingly moving in an upwards trajectory under Thomas Tuchel, Manchester United may need to invest in their side in order to maintain any chances of competing for the title next season. But where should they be looking at? 101 identifies 3 positions that need filling at Old Trafford.

3. Right Centre-back.

Manchester United have conceded 43 goals so far this season, more than Chelsea, Manchester City, and even Arsenal. Whilst it may not be the single most pressing issue on the pitch, signing a new partner for Harry Maguire would be a smart move if the transfer budget allows. It is not just defensive ability that the incoming player would need, however, with leadership low in the back-line. In Maguire’s absence, Manchester United have taken one from a possible six points, with a lack of defensive solidity a key factor.

101’s suggestion: Pau Torres

Okay, so Pau Torres to Manchester United is not a groundbreaking new suggestion. However, the Villareal defender would offer a perfect companion to Harry Maguire. A natural left-footed player, he would allow Harry Maguire to move to the right-hand side of central defence. Moreover, he is a leader in the Yellow Submarine’s defence, and offers composure on the ball combined with an ability to drive into midfield when required.

The major stumbling block may be the price tag. Under contract until 2024 in Spain, the 24-year-old is valued at €45 million according to transfermarkt, However, Torres has a release clause of €50 million, and it is unlikely that Villareal would be willing to sell their star defender for less than that, meaning that United will have to splash out to bring him to Old Trafford.

2. Right Winger

The Red Devils desperately need width down the right flank. With full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka much improved this season but still not the most competent in the final third, United have tended to avoid the right wing during attacks. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have deputised capably on the right, but their best positions still lay elsewhere. A natural right-sided player would represent a massive upgrade for Solskjear’s side, allowing them more variety in methods of scoring as well as more width on the counter-attack.

Jadon Sancho

DORTMUND, GERMANY – DECEMBER 07: Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal which is later disallowed by VAR during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Signal Iduna Park on December 07, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho has been well documented. After failing in their move for him last summer, it is quite possible that they get their way this summer. If they don’t however, there are certainly other options available.

101’s suggestion: David Neres

Were United to fail in their pursuit of Sancho, they could do far worse than David Neres. Like Sancho, the Ajax man is a left-footed winger that can play on either flank, whilst he too is blessed with explosive pace. Three goals and five assists this season does not do his underlying quality justice, and his ability to hold onto the ball will allow his teammates to get up the pitch as they seek to counter.

Contracted until 2023, Neres could be a very good-value option if United can’t land their primary target. The 24-year-old is valued at £25 million by transfermarkt, and would likely be available for just half of Sancho’s rumoured £80 million price tag. Whilst he may not hit the heights that Sancho could, he would certainly represent an upgrade on United’s current options.

Defensive Midfield:

The number one priority for Manchester United has to be finding a new option in central midfield. Whilst Scott McTominay and Fred are both good enough to play against most opposition, they are found out against the very top sides. To begin to compete at the very top level again, Manchester United need a midfielder that is able to dictate games and break up counterattacks once again.

One player that ticks all of the boxes is Wilfried Ndidi, currently playing at Leicester City. Although he would cost a significant sum, he would immediately improve United’s midfield and add some much-needed class in the central areas.

Leicester City could already have indicated that the Nigerian is up for sale this summer too, inching closer to a deal for Lille midfielder Boubacary Soumare, who tends to occupy the same position as Ndidi. This could suggest that the FA cup winners may be inclined to sell Ndidi were a suitable offer to come in.

Sizeable outlay needed:

Quality signings in these three positions would immediately elevate Manchester United to a level above their performances this season. With Edinson Cavani signing a new contract last week, they do not need to worry about a new striker this summer, meaning that they can focus on the other positions of need. If the Red Devils could pull off these three signings, they may just head into the new season as favourites.

Read more:

Liverpool & Jadon Sancho: Anfield club register ‘interest’ to rival Man United

Jadon Sancho to miss Dortmund’s first Champions League clash with Man City

 


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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 37 46 83
2 Manchester United FC 37 28 71
3 Chelsea FC 37 23 67
4 Leicester City FC 37 20 66
5 Liverpool FC 36 21 63
6 Tottenham Hotspur FC 36 22 59
7 West Ham United FC 36 10 59
8 Leeds United 37 6 56
9 Everton FC 36 3 56
10 Arsenal FC 36 12 55
11 Aston Villa FC 36 7 49
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 36 -14 45
13 Crystal Palace FC 36 -21 44
14 Southampton FC 37 -18 43
15 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 37 -4 41
16 Burnley FC 36 -18 39
17 Newcastle United FC 36 -19 39
18 Fulham FC 37 -24 28
19 West Bromwich Albion 36 -37 26
20 Sheffield United FC 36 -43 20
Player Team Goals
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 22
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 22
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 17
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 17
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 16
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 16
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 13
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 13
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 13
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 12
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 12
Wood, Chris Burnley FC 12
Iheanacho, Kelechi Leicester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 11
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 11
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 10
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 10
Cavani, Edinson Manchester United FC 10
Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 10

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