Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Post West Ham United
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Manchester United enjoyed a fruitful summer transfer window, bringing in three high-profile players to bolster Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side for the 2021/22 season. Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo all arrived at Old Trafford, but the club’s long-term planning means more big-name players could already be lined up for the upcoming windows.
While central defence and attack were United’s priorities over the summer, there remain a few other positions which the club are still keen to strengthen.
Central midfield is a position lots of United supporters believe the team needs to improve, while the club’s activity over the summer also provided a few other clues to their strategy.
United have made a strong start in the Premier League this season, taking 13 points from a possible 15 to sit level with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the table.
But their sloppy 2-1 defeat by Young Boys in the Champions League showed they still have a long way to go.
With that in mind, here’s how they could line-up in the future with three big signings in 2022.
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Goalkeeper: De Gea
At the start of the season, David de Gea appeared to be under huge pressure for his starting place at United.
Dean Henderson had muscled in during the back end of the 2020/21 campaign to give Solskjaer a selection headache, but that issue now seems to have been resolved.
Henderson began the season with an injury and De Gea hasn’t looked back, making an impressive start which suggests the No 1 jersey is his now.
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The Spaniard’s standing has been strengthened by a few brilliant saves and his last-minute penalty save against West Ham is sure to buy him even more time.
Henderson could still come back to take his place, but for now it seems as though De Gea is the man in possession.
Defence: Trippier, Varane, Maguire, Shaw
Varane’s arrival from Real Madrid over the summer has finally given Solskjaer two world-class centre-backs to work with.
Harry Maguire has played alongside Victor Lindelof in the early stages of this season, but it seems certain the long-term idea is for the captain to partner Varane in the centre of defence.
Luke Shaw is clearly first-choice ahead of Alex Telles, yet there is some uncertainty at right-back where Aaron Wan-Bissaka has not fully convinced.
Solskjaer wanted to sign Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid in the summer to provide competition for Wan-Bissaka and it was only the Spanish club’s high asking price which scuppered a transfer.
Trippier’s contract runs out in June 2023, meaning United could well return to their interest next summer and land their man, who is known to be keen on a move back to the Premier League.
Midfield: Rice, Bellingham, Fernandes
Now, this is where things get interesting. Holding midfield is a clear problem position for Solskjaer and a constant source of frustration for fans.
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Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay have never convinced, Donny van de Beek is not suited for the role and Paul Pogba is better further forward.
Pogba is still yet to sign a new contract so could be on his way out of the door next summer. If that eventuality comes to pass then United would need two new midfielders.
Declan Rice is the man they want for the holding role, according to ESPN, with West Ham’s valuation of around £80million not putting them off. Rice wants to play Champions League football, so would be interested in moving to Old Trafford.
He would solve the holding midfielder conundrum and if Pogba leaves then Jude Bellingham would be the perfect player to provide a box-to-box threat.
The 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund star has impressed hugely this season and, according to The Sun, United are in pole position to sign him having put in lots of work last summer when he eventually chose Dortmund when moving from Birmingham City.
Attack: Sancho, Rashford, Ronaldo
United are looking pretty good up front these days – and that’s without the injured Marcus Rashford, who will return in the coming months from a shoulder injury.
Sancho has started slowly in a red shirt following his £73m move from Dortmund, but history suggests there is nothing to worry about with the England winger.
He will have good competition for his place with young forward Mason Greenwood, while the likes of Amad, Shola Shoretire and Anthony Elanga should have progressed further too by the summer of 2022.
Ronaldo looks to have defied the ageing process and, having signed a two-year deal, will still be the main man in attack – especially as Edinson Cavani will be out of contract and Anthony Martial is unlikely to unseat him.
Possible Man Utd line-up in 2022: De Gea; Trippier, Varane, Maguire Shaw; Rice, Bellingham, Fernandes; Sancho, Rashford, Ronaldo.
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