Manchester United have received two transfer boosts this week.
United were handed a boost yesterday with the news that Real Madrid could well be willing to sell Raphael Varane this summer over concerns that the centre-back is unwilling to sign a new deal at the Bernabeu.
Reports from Germany today have now claimed that United are one of a select group of clubs to be in with a chance of landing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, with question marks over the Norwegian striker’s future should Dortmund fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.
Signing both players would substantially strengthen the Reds next season and also give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plenty of options over how he could line his side up.
Here is United’s most likely line-up should both players move to Old Trafford.
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
For the majority of the season, Spanish goalkeeper has retained his position as first-choice at United despite competition from Dean Henderson and will likely remain as No. 1 next season.
However, Henderson is set for a run of games in the side this month after starting in the goalless draw with Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
After the match, Solskjaer refused to elaborate on De Gea’s absence.
“I can’t really say about David, it’s a private matter,” Solskjaer stressed. “Dean is ready if he’s called upon, you saw that. He kept his concentration.
“I think maybe it would have been called offside [against Van Aanholt] but at the moment I thought that Dean saved us a point because it looked like that was a deciding moment and that was probably the biggest chance of the game, apart from Marcus in the first-half.”
Defence – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
Varane’s most obvious position is next to Harry Maguire at centre-back.
The Frenchman has filled in at right-back before but his reputation is built on being one of the best centre-backs in world football, so it would not make much sense for him to be signed as a replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Maguire has, on the whole, been solid this season and has arguably produced his best performances alongside Eric Bailly – a player who is able to read the game well. Therefore, the arrival of a player with the ability of Varane could well raise Maguire’s game to the next level.
The player to miss out in defence would almost certainly be Victor Lindelof.
Midfield – Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba
Solskjaer has preferred a double pivot in midfield this season, utilising two defensive midfielders amid concerns over United’s defence. Whilst one of these, usually Scott McTominay or Paul Pogba, has acted as a box-to-box midfielder, it has generally been the case that their main role has been to sit in front of the defence.
Yet the arrival of Varane in defence would, on paper, alleviate some concerns over needing to protect the back four and free up a midfielder to push further forward.
In this line-up, McTominay operates in the pivot role, allowing Bruno Fernandes and Pogba to operate upfield – yet the position could also be filled by Fred.
This would also take the pressure off Fernandes from being the sole creator in the Reds’ midfield, adding a further presence in a forward-thinking role.
Attack – Mason Greenwood, Erling Haaland, Marcus Rashford
In attack, Haaland would obviously be leading the line.
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Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players were frustrated for the third goalless game in succession, dropping more points to allow Man City to streak away at the Premier League’s summit, on a poor day for the forwards.
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The Norwegian star would operate as the team’s main goalscoring threat but would also be able to create the space for wingers to operate.
This line-up sees Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford occupying the wide roles, but more conventional wingers such as Amad and Daniel James could feasibly play in those positions to provide Haaland with more service.
With the extra presence in an attacking midfield role, United would feel confident about being able to control possession a little more against big teams in matches, but, with the amount of pace in this attack, they would also be able to hit teams on the counter if necessary.