The transfer window is yet to officially open but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already has an idea in his head about how he wants his side to look by the end of it.
After a steady season which saw his side fall short at the final hurdle the Manchester United manager is eyeing reinforcements in the months ahead, well aware of the need for quality improvements if he is to turn the fine margins of football further in his favour.
The Norwegian has already attended transfer meetings with club officials since the Europa League final, as director of football negotiations Matt Judge holds dialogue with various players’ representatives in order to gauge the possibility of deals in the weeks ahead.
United are in talks with Borussia Dortmund over signing Jadon Sancho, but any deal to sign the England winger isn’t imminent, while Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane remains another top target this summer.
Interest is harboured in both Declan Rice and Pau Torres, with Solskjaer also open to signing another striker in spite of Edinson Cavani’s contract renewal last month.
With a minimum of three first-team signings targeted the only real question surrounds who those will be – Solskjaer has already hinted one of them could well be a wildcard addition.
United were linked with a staggering 113 players in the January transfer window last year, while that figure might even be beaten this summer given the obvious need to spend and with major international tournaments taking place which could propel unlikely players into the spotlight.
“With the way the world works, at the moment, you’d like to do all our business, of course, on the quiet and all your talks on the quiet,” Solskjaer stated last month when quizzed on his summer transfer plans. “But there are platforms everywhere, there’s news and the media now makes it more and more difficult. Who can you trust?
“Hopefully, I’ll sit here with players nobody has written about and thought we were not going to go to. We conduct our recruitment business and scouting the players we are interested in, we do it the right way, I hope and feel.”
Solskjaer’s reign at Old Trafford has been peppered with unlikely additions and he could yet spring another surprise in the summer window by adding others to his first-team squad.
Daniel James was somewhat of a surprising addition when he became Solskjaer’s first signing in June 2019, while a late loan move for Odion Ighalo in the following January window was another unexpected move. United signed four players on deadline day last October, with Facundo Pellistri a wildcard addition given his limited game time at former club Penarol.
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No matter who Solskjaer brings to the club in the months ahead they will be carefully selected by a rigorous transfer process which effectively started last autumn. Solskjaer and the recruitment department, headed by technical chief scout Mick Court, hold regular meetings, analysis is carried out from the autumn into the winter and, come the New Year, United draw up their target list. Then the director of football negotiations Matt Judge is tasked with executing the deals.
The manager and the recruitment department remain the only people with the right to veto a transfer target, meaning any proposed addition will not only need to impress club club officials but also get Solskjaer’s seal of approval as the right personality and fit for his squad.
With the European Championship now only four days away it may be a while before we see United’s first summer signing materialise, but with the club’s most notable top targets all involved in international football, we could well see a wildcard option emerge as an unlikely arrival first.
No matter what happens Solskjaer is keeping his mind open to any player who could enhance his current group.