There was no debate about Manchester United’s transfer priority last summer.
The problem was that they did not land Jadon Sancho, or any senior right-wingers, as had been the plan — although deals for youngsters Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo were agreed.
After a quiet January window, the summer of 2021 is already in view for United, though it is not clear which one of three or four possible areas for strengthening ought to be the priority. As well as the right flank, central defence and central midfield may require attention.
But former United player Fabio da Silva has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to concentrate on the addition of a right-back when the transfer market reopens.
He told MEN Sport: “If you see how Luke Shaw is doing this season, I think it’s the best season he’s been having for so long at Man United. [Alex] Telles has made him improve, someone to say ‘if you’re not playing well, if you’re not concentrating, working hard, you’re going to lose your place’.
“This definitely makes you play better, so for [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka if they bring in a good right-back, you’re going to help him to improve.”
The Brazilian surely has a point. Wan-Bissaka is certainly improving, as he showed in the recent drubbing of Southampton, but United should be looking to emulate what they did with Shaw and Telles this summer. It could be that right-back, rather than the right-wing — where they have two burgeoning young talents — becomes the new transfer priority.
Here are four possible United targets in the position this summer:
There has been no shortage of Premier League interest in Aarons, who despite playing in the Championship is ranked among Europe’s elite right-backs right now. The 21-year-old would not come cheap for United and he might be the wrong profile of player, given he’s younger than Wan-Bissaka and would expect to go to a club where he can nail down the first-choice jersey.
Barcelona have been linked with Aarons, which shows the esteem in which he’s held around the world.
United should certainly take a look.
United were showing interest in the star of England’s 2018 World Cup campaign, but pulled away from a deal as it became unclear whether Trippier would be able to play, amid a suspension for breaching betting rules. The Atletico Madrid star has indeed been banned, but that should be over by the summer — when his contract in Spain will be 12 months off its expiry.
Trippier has been rejuvenated since he swapped Spurs for Spain and given his age (30), he might be the ideal player to come in and offer some experience and competition to Wan-Bissaka. Diego Simeone rates him highly and that’s some endorsement, given the Argentinian coach’s defensive nous.
The diminutive 20-year-old has quickly set about showing why Chelsea were wrong to rate Reece James ahead of him, with a string of impressive showings for Brighton in the past year, since a £3million January 2020 move.
At his age, he would fit into the Aarons category in United’s thinking, as a player more likely to demand regular game-time rather than a shared first team role with Wan-Bissaka.
But you can’t help thinking Lamptey will not stay too long at Brighton before a bigger club comes calling.
He has enjoyed a stellar year on the south coast and he’s only going to get better. He has the attacking ability that United are looking for from their right-back.
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Manchester United smashed nine goals past Southampton on Tuesday night as they bounced back from disappointing results against Sheffield United and Arsenal in emphatic fashion.
The game was effectively over as a contest inside the first two minutes as Southampton were reduced to 10 men, but United still had to find the goals and they did exactly that, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial (two), Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James all getting on the scoresheet.
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Pereira hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons with Leicester, largely because of injury, but before those setbacks he was rated among the Premier League’s best all-round full-backs.
He has seen James Justin and Timothy Castagne play in his position for the Foxes of late, and shine, but at 27 he’s in his peak and is routinely the only player in the league to better Wan-Bissaka for tackles made.
The Portuguese, like Trippier, would represent an experienced option to come into the side and rival Wan-Bissaka, without being touted as his long-term replacement. He has two years left on his contract and is represented by Jorge Mendes, which could open the door to a move.