With just a few short months to go until we reach the end of another campaign, there will transfer rumours surrounding most Premier League teams, but probably none more so than global giants Manchester United.
On course to qualify for the Champions League and possibly finish as high as second in the Premier League table for the first time since 2017/18, there is no doubt that current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is building a strong team.
However, Solskjaer will want to strengthen his squad to put out a team capable of genuinely challenging for the title given that near neighbours Manchester City are practically out of sight this campaign, needing just 14 points to win it.
We take a look at the transfer activity that United need to try and reclaim a coveted Premier League trophy and end what would become 10 years without it at Old Trafford.
Jones will mark 10 years at United this, and it’s time for him to move on. He looked promising as a youngster coming into the club from Blackburn Rovers, but his career has taken a steep decline, and he has spent more time out of action through injury than actually on the pitch.
Registering just eight games in all competitions last term and yet to make an appearance this time around, he may well be searching for a new club at the end of May. A good servant to United, but now more well-known for his facials becoming memes.
This may be harsh, but it’s undeniable that any title-winning side needs to have a great defensive partnership, and Eric Bailly is unlikely to play a part in one of those.
United have done reasonably well at the back with 12 clean sheets this season, but that has come through the main partnership of captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf.
Bailly has become a bit-part player, managing eight league appearances this season and keeping three clean sheets. He’s not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, but with United chasing a new centre-back there is no room for the Ivorian.
Mata has done a lot wrong while wearing a United shirt, but he should be moved on from Old Trafford this summer. Now 32, Mata has also become a bit-part player under Solskjaer this season, playing just 12 games in all competitions.
Mata was a great acquisition when he arrived, but he doesn’t have the legs to play at a high tempo. Whether Mata stays at the club in a coaching role is another matter, but he’s certainly good enough to offer his services to another club lower down the league table. Either that or return to Spain.
A move that we probably all expect to happen, but one that will be emotional for those involved is Jesse Lingard’s eventual United exit. The 28-year-old has come through the ranks alongside his best friend Marcus Rashford, but he is now out on loan at West Ham United.
Having not played a single minute for United in the Premier League this season, he’s established a regular place in David Moyes’ starting XI, and the midfielder is rediscovering his best form.
Solskjaer spoke earlier this month of his admiration for Lingard as a player but said Bruno Fernandes has come in and filled his position, so a return to United is unlikely. It’s time for him to say his goodbyes to those who have made him what he is today.
Donny Van De Beek
A controversial choice, but it’s clear to see that Van De Beek’s move to England with the Red Devils hasn’t worked out. The Dutchman only signed in September but could be sold on while his market value hasn’t declined too far.
Solskjaer has only named him in his starting line-up twice in the league and actually brought him off at half-time in one of those games. It’s difficult to see where he slots into the team, but he still has the potential to be a top player somewhere else. Possibly a return to Ajax is on the cards?
David De Gea
De Gea potentially leaving Old Trafford is perhaps not the surprise it would once have been. Having arrived in the summer of 2011, he had a shaky start at Old Trafford but has since transformed into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League over the last decade. Essentially, he joined as a boy and will leave as a man whenever he does exit.
However, United now have a solid replacement in Dean Henderson, which they haven’t had for years. This season really is the first in a while that de Gea has been challenged for the number one spot, and although he has remained in goal for the majority of the campaign, Henderson has proved himself when called upon.
De Gea recently returned to Spain for the birth of his first child, spending time with his wife who has never lived in England with him. With all these contributing factors, DDG may push more than ever to move back to Spain but would leave with the well-wishes of everyone connected to the club if he did.
If United can ship out the players listed above in the next transfer window, the club’s fans and the rest of the world will have their eyes glued on who is brought into Old Trafford.
Here are three players that the Red Devils could eye to enhance their title chances come next season.
Potentially the most obvious answer to any question ever. United made no secret in the last two transfer windows that the Borussia Dortmund star was a priority purchase, but they could not get the deal done.
United were unwilling to meet the asking price for the Englishman, believed to be more than £100 million, but Sancho may well be in a red shirt at the start of next season.
Sancho has been a real livewire this term, grabbing 11 assists in 21 Bundesliga games – more than any United player has managed in the league, including Bruno Fernandes.
With his speed and crossing ability, Sancho would fit Solskjaer’s system well but would arrive at Old Trafford with a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
United have undoubtedly been lacking up front in many games this season. Although the quality is there in terms of individuals, the link-up play hasn’t always been great and, without Fernandes’ penalties, they may well have found themselves lower in the league.
The simple answer to their lack of firepower up top is Harry Kane. Having been Spurs’ star player for the last five years, Kane is yet to win a major trophy with the north London side and has previously expressed his desire to have accolades to his name.
Widely expected to score goals at any level, Kane may become the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer by the end of his career. The striker knows where the net is and provides not only a goalscoring instinct but a real knowledge of the game.
He is physically able to dominate most defenders, something which United lack the ability to do if Edinson Cavani isn’t on the pitch.
However, United signing Kane and Sancho is highly unlikely due to the cost implications amongst other factors, so it may be a case of one or the other.
United’s defensive woes have been widely discussed for many years now, and while Lindelöf is a good player, his partnership with Maguire is unlikely to lead to a league title.
One man who could come in and change their fortunes though is Jonathan Tah, currently of Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Tah may be a shock inclusion in this list, but he is exactly what United need.
The German international already has vast experience, having played regularly at Leverkusen for the last six seasons. The 25-year-old is a physical presence at both ends of the pitch and someone who would link-up well with Maguire.
Tah could be moulded into a world-class defender and wouldn’t cost United a huge amount considering today’s inflated market as he is currently valued at around £30 million.
Given the poor season that Leverkusen are having in the Bundesliga, this summer could be the perfect time to tempt Tah away from the BayArena and into Solskjaer’s starting XI.