Man Utd state of play: Transfers, exits, injuries, biggest issues before season

It is clear to see where Manchester United can improve under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after last season, and indeed the season before.

After a succession of semi-final defeats under the Norwegian, United did manage to go one better and reach the Europa League final in 2020-21.

But they lost there too.

That defeat plus the second placed finish in the Premier League have contributed to a narrative of United becoming the nearly-men under their current boss, but the support for Solskjaer remains at Old Trafford.

Second was, after all, an improvement on recent United seasons, with finishing above rivals Liverpool, the previous season's champions, also providing a tick in the manager's box.

A brand new, and very lucrative contract also found its way into that box at the weekend too, and so as he heads into a third full season as the club's manager, there might well be a spring in Solskjaer's step.

Transfers

That spring will have even more bounce to it once the club complete the signing of Raphael Varane, with the Frenchman on the verge of completing his switch from Real Madrid which could end up topping £40million.

Even at that price, and the age of 28, it is hard to criticise the signing of the World Cup winner, who should bring with him a sense of stardust and give United's defence an added element of pace which could allow them to be a little bit more attacking than they often have been under Solskjaer.

Jadon Sancho will help with that of course, with the arrival of the England international one that sure to excite fans who are allowed to return to Old Trafford.

In addition to those two expensive additions – as well as backup goalkeeper Tom Heaton – there are also several calls for United to bring in a central midfielder, with Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez strongly linked along with French youngster Eduardo Camavinga.

England's Kieran Trippier remains a target, with French defender Jules Kounde also wanted.

Exits

There is now a widespread belief that whatever United do next in the transfer market, after the signing of Varane, will be influenced by whether or not they can offload Paul Pogba.

Paris Saint-Germain are at the head of the queue to sign the midfielder, largely because not many of his other suitors are going to be able to afford him this summer, and the mood seems to have shifted towards United offloading him now rather than either try and get him to sign a new deal or let him on a free next summer.

Jesse Lingard also features heavily in United's summer transfer plans, with the club still open to selling him after last season's successful loan spell at West Ham.

Publicly Solskjaer has backed Lingard – who featured in the recent friendlies against Derby and QPR, scoring in the latter – but the England international will know that backing is conditional, and if a good offer materialises then he'll be able to go.

The likes of Alex Telles, Phil Jones, Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, Andreas Pereira, Daniel James and Anthony Martial will also be allowed to let go if good offers come.

Injuries

One of the reasons for Jones being on that list above is because of his ongoing injury issues, and the defender hasn't featured in either of United's friendlies having not made a senior first-team appearance since January 2020.

The real concern for the club though remains Marcus Rashford's shoulder problem, with a decision yet to be taken on whether or not the England international will undergo surgery on an issue which has now bugged him for months.

Should he go under the knife then he could be missing until around October, something which may force Solskjaer to rethink selling one of his attackers.

Biggest issues

Solskjaer has managed to further his claims to be taken seriously in the United job, but he'll know that with his new contract comes an increased scrutiny and expectation.

How he handles that could well determine how United's season goes, while fitting in his new signings into a workable system may also be a challenge.

In addition there is the ongoing question of just who will be United's No.1, with David de Gea showing little desire to walk away from his lucrative contract and Dean Henderson also desperate to be given more chances.

Solskjaer will be desperate to make a decision there and stick to it, but that could be easier said than done.

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