Manchester United’s transfer targets this summer are players who could quicken the pulse of supporters who feel they’re overdue a Premier League title.
After finishing third last season and second this, United’s trajectory is clear and a sustained and serious title challenge for the first time in the eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired is a must next season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows his starting XI needs strengthening if that is to be achieved and the quality of players being targeted shows this is a window that can be fruitful for United.
Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho are both realistic targets, from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund respectively, and they would be two world-class players to add to this squad. A deal for a third, in Harry Kane, isn’t entirely out of the question and while Declan Rice might not have the glamour of the above trio, it’s clear he would be a fine addition to this squad.
But amid the potential glamour, there is another glaring area of concern for United, one that is an issue of squad depth rather than adding quality to the starting XI.
And it’s best illustrated with a stat, one that reveals Aaron Wan-Bissaka started more games this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. The right-back started 54 of United’s 61 games in all competitions, including 32 of the final 34 games.
Wan-Bissaka was three games clear in that list, with Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes also on 51, as were Ruben Dias and Thibaut Courtois. But for his end-of-season injury Maguire may have topped the charts, but there is a difference in workload for a central defender and a right-back, especially one in the modern game.
The 23-year-old isn’t one of United’s most important players, but he might be the player with the least pressure on his place. Towards the end of this season Brandon Williams has transitioned back to the right, but he needs a season on loan to really state his case. Diogo Dalot spent the campaign with AC Milan but switched between right-back and left-back and the way he ended the 2019-20 season behind Timothy Fosu-Mensah suggests he doesn’t have the faith of Solskjaer.
So adding some competition for Wan-Bissaka is essential in this window. United have an interest in La Liga title winner Kieran Trippier and the Bury-born right-back would certainly be a differential to the current incumbent. Trippier is a good defensive full-back but is also excellent going forward, while his fitness is also exemplary as he has shown for Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone.
Which right-back should United sign this summer? Have your say in the comments section.
If Trippier is keen to return to England and the North West then United would be interested, but the dynamics of a deal might be fascinating. Signing a player who is in the England squad ahead of Wan-Bissaka and who has just won La Liga would present a much more concerted challenge to the man in possession of the shirt. There’s certainly a strong argument that Trippier is currently the better overall full-back.
Having that level of competition might appeal to Solskjaer, but keeping them both happy will be no easy feat. If United decide against Trippier, there are alternatives, players who might offer a more natural back-up option, but also raise the bar to challenge Wan-Bissaka.
Norwich City’s Max Aarons is one, an attacking right-back who can bring something different, while Lille’s title winner Zeki Celik is another. The 24-year-old has been linked with an Everton but he would certainly offer United more than they’ve got now in the right-back department.
With the names of Varane, Sancho and Kane occupying thoughts for United fans this summer, it’s easy to get carried away. Signing a reserve right-back doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it’s just as vital going into next season.