Assessing Manchester United’s Transfer Needs This Summer

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With the Premier League season wrapped up for the summer and no big tournaments to speak of this summer (other than perhaps the Copa America) all football fans will be watching the transfer market with keen interest. This summer in particular will be an interesting one for Manchester United fans like myself. It is already a foregone conclusion that Sir Alex will be spending big on players this term, and plenty of big names are being linked with Old Trafford.

But just where and for whom should United be spending their cash? I will try and answer that for all of you by going through and analyzing the Red Devils’ squad.

Goalkeeper (Need – High):

With the departure of Edwin Van Der Sar, there is a void in United’s goal that desperately needs to be filled. Fergie brought in Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard during the January transfer window, but although the young Dane performed satisfactorily in the few matches we’ve seen him play in a United shirt, a more experienced keeper from a more reputable league is needed. Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea will most likely be that keeper. A deal between De Gea and United is rumored to be all but done, and the official announcement is set to be made in July when the transfer window officially opens. Barring any shock developments, De Gea will be United’s #1 in the coming season.

Defense (Need – Low):

It’s safe to say that United’s back four is the best in the Premier League, and arguably in the world. Nemanja Vidic, United’s captain and centerback, won Player of the Year honors for the past season and rightly so. Patrice Evra is a stalwart at the left back position and provides a great threat when United are on attack, playing almost as a winger. At right back, the ever-improving Da Silva twins’ only true competition is each other. With their strength and speed, they are tough to beat in one-on-one situations, and they both provide decent crosses from the touch line. That leaves us with Rio Ferdinand. When 100% match-fit, Rio is easily one of the best in the world at his position. The problem, however, is that he’s not always match-fit, with back problems limiting him at times. He’s strung together a good number of games this season, though, and looks to have at least a couple more years playing at his high level. With youngsters Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans both available on the bench in case Ferdinand has more injury problems — as well as new signing Phil Jones on hand, United have no need to sign any new defenders this summer.

Midfield (Need – High):

Here is where most of the cash will be splashed this summer. Rumors have been swirling about all sorts of top players being linked with moves to Old Trafford. Perhaps the least of their problems in midfield is at the right wing position, where both Nani and Antonio Valencia can perform excellently. The heart of the midfield, however, is where United’s needs are highest. With the departure of legend Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Michael Carrick are currently United’s only three viable options at center-mid. Although neither Fletcher nor Carrick’s talent can be doubted, Fletcher is more useful as a defensive-minded midfielder while Carrick’s United career is riddled with inconsistency.

United need a creative midfielder who can control the flow of the game with his skills both on and off the ball. Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric are the two players most often linked with Old Trafford. Both players have proven to be highly skilled at the center-mid position and either would be welcomed by the Old Trafford faithful. Both also will come with hefty price tags, and we should expect the bulk of our money to be allocated towards a center-midfielder this summer.

Finally, left wing is also a position that Sir Alex may want to look at this summer. United’s one true left winger is Ryan Giggs, the best in the business in his prime and still an excellent player in his age, but we’ll have to face the fact that Giggsy will be retiring within the next couple of seasons, and his speed is not what is used to be. Although Nani, Valencia and sometimes even Ji Sung Park can fill in at left wing, it is not their natural positions. A true left winger with pace and crossing ability is something that United could definitely use. Aston Villa’s Ashley Young seems to be this left winger. The England international boasts terrific speed and dead ball ability, and is able to cut in from the left wing and attack the opponent’s defense on his stronger right foot (similar to Franck Ribery). Young has been linked with both United and Liverpool, but Old Trafford is looking like it will be the 25 year-old.

Forwards (Need – Medium):

United’s attacking lineup may or may not need some complementary players this summer. Their 3 main options at forward are as follows: Dimitar Berbatov (last season’s leading goal-scorer in the Premier League), Javier Hernandez (surely the most sensational transfer in United’s recent history, netting 20 goals in all competitions in his first season) and Wayne Rooney (no introduction needed.)

Generally, Rooney and Hernandez start the game and Berbatov usually makes an appearance midway through the second half. The problem with this scheme is that a player like Berbatov, who is arguably the most technically gifted player on the squad, is not happy being resigned to a bench role (a complaint recently brought to light during the Champions’ League final.) In my humble opinion, Berbatov has all the right to complain, considering his goals carried United for a fair bit of the season. If Berbatov were to leave United this summer (and it’s anyone’s guess right now whether or not that will happen) it would leave United with only one viable striking option on the bench: Michael Owen, who is unfortunately well past his prime and can’t truly be relied upon as a week-in and week-out substitute.

Regardless of whether Berbatov leaves or not, United should bring back both Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda from loan and perhaps sign another young, inexpensive striker. The priority, however, has to be the midfield.

65 thoughts on “Assessing Manchester United’s Transfer Needs This Summer”

  1. Keep your hands off of Modric. Luka is Spurs best player and I really don’t want to see him leave. Harry has said over and over again we won’t sell Bale, Modric or Sandro but until this summer is over, I won’t rest easy because I know Man U, Chelsea and several Italian clubs are going to be calling and offering huge money for them. Market value for Bale is reportedly $30 million, Modric should be at least $30 million. I don’t see Man U paying that much (I really, really hope I am right).

    1. Currently it seems that Chelsea and United are in the hunt for Sneijder and Modric, and whoever doesn’t get Sneijder will get Modric and vice versa. Of course, the transfer market is completely unpredictable.

      1. I understand the rumors and I have read all of them. As I said, I know people are going to come after Modric. I just hope Daniel Levy won’t sell Modric if a team comes with a $30 million offer. In my opinion, Modric is a player Spurs can’t replace and losing him would end almost all hopes of another top four run. Like you said, it is completely unpredictable and every big club gets linked with almost every single hot commodity out there.

        1. Levy and ‘Arry have been adamant they aren’t selling any of their main midfield players (Modric, Bale, VDV and Sandro). hopefully they’re being serious.

  2. Good analysis — I agree with your basic thesis that MUFC need to spend to bolster the central midfield. The only (mild) crtique I would add is that you breeze by the fact that the only “announced” transfer so far this summer is Phil Jones, who plays both defense and midfield (although SAF probably signed him as a central defender). So, yes, the need for defense is low, but only because we’ve already spent there this summer, to the tune of 16MM…. With Ashley Young and DeGea both also likely signings, this would mean three new bodies in without anyone to play the central midfield role…. I’ve been pining away for Modric on my own blog for just about a year now, but I think it’s looking more and more unlikely, with Sneijder now the likely target and rumors swirling about Nasri, as well (though likely they’re just that — rumors). It’s very unlikely we’ll spend any money up front with Roo, Chicha, probably Berbatov, and Owen all in, and Macheda and Welbeck likley returning….

    1. Sorry about Phil Jones, mate, I wrote the article a few days ago before the transfer was announced. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do in a United shirt!

      1. I think phil jones was purchased for the defensive midfield position. phil is only 5’11”. SAF ususally like his cb to be well over six feet. he could aslo take over the jack of all trades role that oshea and brown had if they go to sunderland.

  3. De Gea worries me, he is only 20 I believe and has very little experience so talking of him as a more experienced option is odd. History does not show us a good track record of successful 20 year old keepers.

    I’m highly confused by the purchase of Jones. Assuming United do not have unlimited money this seemed the one area that money did not need to be spent, and they spent quite a lot on a smallish injury prone players, in a position where they seem to have decent depth.

    I would like to see Tom Cleverly given some decent time in Midfield. I’m not sold on Young either though I am willing to change my view on that given some recent performances.

    1. On De Gea, I just meant more experience relative to Lindegaard. I do agree with you that he is a little young for a keeper to be playing at United, but it looks like he will be the new #1 so we’ll just have to see.

      Waking up to news about Jones’ transfer yesterday definitely confused me as well, however I dare say I’m excited about the prospect of having the (possible?) future England centre-back duo playing at United (Jones and Smalling). Fergie may also choose to use him as a holding midfielder as he has played that position in the past.

      Definitely agreed on Cleverly. I also think we would do well to bring up some academy lads like Morrison and Pogba to see how they perform (maybe bring them on in the second half of games where we’ve already secured 3 points).

      The verdict is still out on Ashley Young. He is certainly very talented, but his play at times doesn’t always show it. His recent goal for England against Switzerland was class, though.

      1. Jones initially confused me but the more i look at it the more i think it’s a great signing. Future England CB pairing as you mentioned but if you look back only 2 seasons ago and this season to a lesser extent we’ve had some major defensive issues, the mighty Carrick at centre back for what felt like an age anyone? And with Wes and john o’shea seemingly off to sunderland we may need him a bit sooner than ‘in the future’ if our back four keep getting injured.

    2. it looks like gibson, borwn and oshea are going to sunderland. so bying jones will fill any gaps left by brown and osheas departure. plus he can fill in the defensinve midfield role.

    3. I think it is more a case of that it was now or never on getting Jones, considering Liverpool were seriously in for him as well. Great signing, one that looks to the future!

  4. Not only do we need a creative midfield player like Modric or sneijder we also need a true box to box midfielder to play along side of him. We have never properly replaced Roy Keane/Owen Hargreaves and its something that needs to be addressed. Yes we have Carrick and FLetcher but as good as they are neither of them can pick up a ball and drive forward with it like Gerrard, Essian or Yaya Toure. Anderson hasn’t proven consistent enough to do it week in week out although that may change if he ever gets a extended run of games in the team.

    1. I don’t know, mate, gotta say I disagree about Fletcher. When he’s match fit I’d honestly take him over Yaya Toure or Essien, he has a lot of skill on and off the ball

  5. Sneijder is very creative but is a liabilty defending. In the EPL you need players that can defend as well as play their role in midfield. Fergie will not bring in an established player who cannot defend (you cannot teach an old dog new tricks). Modric has EPL experience and does help out defensively. What Man United need is a midfielder that can play on both ends, like a Gerard or Toure. I have a feeling that Fergie will go for a British midfielder with EPL experience. Charlie Adam might just be what the club will go for. This will be another signing, like Phil Jones, that Liverpool will be denied. Win-win.

    1. Not doubting Adam’s skill, but I think his play has been a tad too inconsistent for us. A lot of times, he’ll dwell on the ball and lose possession in midfield. I do think he should be playing in the Premier League, though, and I don’t think he’ll have a problem finding a club.

      Personally, I wouldn’t be too worried defensively if we paired Sneijder with a defensive-minded Fletcher or possibly Phil Jones in midfield.

  6. Ummm…you forgot to mention Bebe and Obertan. No article assessing Manchester United’s future can be complete without discussing the roles of these pivotal players. Their performances in Gary Neville’s testimonial were astounding!

  7. Regarding strikers, you forgot that Danny Welbeck, Diouf and Kiko Macheda were all on loan this season and at least one of them (and maybe more) could feature prominently on the bench this season. Personally, I’m really excited to see how the local boy (Welbeck) grew after playing a ton of first team football in the northeast last season.

    1. Mentioned Welbeck and Macheda at the end, mate. Totally forgot about Diouf, though, and you’re right he should also have been mentioned, that’s my mistake. I’m definitely excited about our future prospects.

    2. Mentioned Welbeck and Macheda at the end, mate. Totally forgot about Diouf, though, definitely should have been included. I’m excited that we have a lot of good prospects going forward.

    3. Mentioned Welbeck and Macheda at the end, mate. Totally forgot about Diouf, though, should have been mentioned.

    4. Mentioned Welbeck and Macheda at the end, mate. Totally forgot about Diouf, though, definitely should have been mentioned.

  8. Jones was bought to stop Liverpool buying him. Fergie appreciated (even if many on the internet/press don’t) that Liverpool’s policy of buying hot young English talent to develop makes them a major long term threat. Kenny is putting together a dynasty, not just trying to cobble together a title winning team that needs major surgery a few years down the road.
    I am positive if Liverpool hadn’t just bought Henderson and been in prime position for Jones and the 18 year old Wickham, then Fergie would have not gone for Jones and saved up his money for more obvious problem positions.
    Fergie had bought a top, top prospect who will be a very good player one day, but in so doing he may have taken away funding to compete for the big target players like Modric and Sneider.

    1. Funding shouldnt be a problem for another big name midfielder wheather is Sneijder, Modric or Sanchez. 30m should be enough to get one of the three.

      Don’t forget VDS, Scholes, Neville, Hargreaves all on +70k a week wages which we no longer need to worry about, and with Brown O’shea and gibson all being on around 50k and potentially being sold to Sunderland then you have plenty of extra cash for the expensive midfield signing.

      1. I say keep buying english palyer and manu may be the first all english side to win the title in 30 plus years

  9. according to reports SAF hasaround 70mn to spend …. 16mn for jone, another 15-20 for de gea. That leaves atleat 35mn for another midfielder. plus it looks like suderland is offering us 12mn for gibson, oshea and brown. that would give us 45-50mn. It looks like we may buy ashley young for around 15mn. that leaves 25-30 for a central midfielder

  10. I think in the midfield we need a player like modric or nasri as they will be able to give the use more aggression with their dribbling. although sniejder is good and would love to see him at manchester united we already have one in rooney. i think that berbatov is a great player but is too inconsistent with his goal scoring and we can get decent money for him with him being 30 and should try and get benzema or erick torres. and another thing is if its true sunderland bid for our trio, brown oshea and gibson then we need to get a replacement for defense in rapahel varane. we only need one cm to buy as we have great players such as Tom cleveley who im excited about and the likes of paul pogba ravel morrison and the rest which will get their chance next year!

  11. Personally I hope and believe (maybe because I hope) that O’Shea will not go. He’s too versatile and too much of a “real” Man Utd player to depart in my book.

    De Gea has only play 70 or so top flight games so he’s not really experienced under any definition :)

  12. According to Man u website now alexis sanchez favors a move to man u for around 30 million. SO I quess modric and sneijder are out of the race.

    1. Not necessarily as Alexis Sanchez is a natural right winger with Nani and Valencia being best of the left (though could play left or right).

      A midfielder is definitely needed but who is to say that you need a Sneijder or Modric both which have a value that is increasing in the transfer gossip.

      I just wonder what SAF cares more about; a midfield that will win the EPL, or a midfield that can beat Barca in CL.

      1. Not sure if I understood what you’re trying to say, but Nani and Valencia are both primarily right-wingers. Nani is versatile enough and tricky enough to play on the left, but Valencia has zero left foot, so would be a waste of space there.

        1. I’m not sure that Sanchez is the right fit for us at the moment since he operates on the right and we have both Nani and Valencia who are more than capable of playing that position. Sanchez can also play behind the striker, but that’s a position that Rooney’s adopted of late so I really don’t think he’s the right choice right now. I believe we’d do well to sign Ashley Young sooner rather than later and then focus all of our attention on a true center-midfielder.

      2. I think you have that a little backwards, Valencia is best on the right wing as he has no left foot at all, Nani while two footed is better on the right also simply because he can either beat his opponent on the outside with his skill/speed but he also poses a major threat coming inside and shooting with his left foot.

  13. Nasri would make a belter of a signing but somehow i can’t see Mr Wenger selling him to united even though he want’s to leave. We all now he has a thing for frogs, most of his team are frogs but if Benzema goes his way i hope Nasri comes our war. Go for him Fergie, he’s 23 and he’s an exellent creative/attack minded cen midfielder. He does’nt go down like he’s been shot when he’s been tackled either.

    1. I believe Nasri’s contract is up now. I think all the rumors of him possibly moving began because of stalled contract negotiations.

      1. No Nasri contract has one more year to run, he can however sign a pre contract with another club on Jan 1st 2012

  14. Ah, then is he just renegotiating? I know he wants 110K or something like that a week and that’s where all the fuss began

    1. Hes basically playing both sides right now. He threatens to leave to get Arsenal to come up with more money while at the same time he gets to see what other clubs may be interested.

      1. Well I’m all for any situation that would possibly result in him coming to OT to be honest. I’ve always been a fan of his.

  15. Other than him looking like a 40 year old french lesbian he wouldn’t be a bad choice but he wouldn’t be my first choice either. If we could get him on a free transfer on Jan 1st id go pick him up from London myself and drive him to Manchester.

  16. MUFC77, that was totally uncalled for in calling Nasri a lesbian. If you don’t like him as a player that’s one thing but to call him a lesbian is going overboard. Most United fans rate him highly. You are in the minority. It’s idiots like you that give United fans a bad name. Cut it out!

    1. I never new you spoke on behalf of “most” Utd fans. Where did i say i didnt rate him? I said he would be my first choice but i would take him under the right circumstances.

    1. great Ive been on this forum less than a week and im already the jackass, that’s a new record. If having a bit of banter with city fans make me a jackass then I guess i am.

  17. Get rid of berbatov and leverage that money to pay 40M for neymar. I know it’s a risk but he can both replay giggs on the left or play up front in a ss role. Then get nasri. Forget wesley he’s passing his prime.

  18. Now that Young has signed it looks like Nani may be on his way out. Young cost close to 20 million and United are about to sell Gibson, O’Shea and Brown to Sunderland for 12 million to recoup some of the cost. It will be interesting to see what kind of money United will get for Nani and who will be bought with it. Some reports are saying that United have bid 8 million for Nasri. I guess because he only has a year left on his contract that United would be able to get him for a reduced fee. Even at 10 million he would be a bargain.

  19. to my opinion as a stronghold manchester united fan……….i think nasri and sneijder can fitbthe manchester play sytem! i have watched both players play n am really satisfied with thier winning ambitions! i also think ashley young is a right signing for the all through champions! carrick shud not fit in utd squad next season

  20. Man united should buy someone like Sneijder or Modric or Nasri because they are all creative midfields they have good ability to get past an opponent there good on the counter attack they all can score goals.

  21. Nasri will become a United player within the next month. United are talking to him right now which is a sign that he is willing to go to United. Unless Arsenal offer him better wages he will become a Red Devil. Title number 20 in the bag!

  22. To me buying Sneijder is not a neccessary for Red Devil..He sure great in passing and shooting but he lack of defensive skill to provide for Red Devil..Besides,he have a slope in his performance now plus he is nearing 30’s and will only serve for few years (if MU baught him)…
    I also dont think that Alex Sanchez will to come to Old Trafford because Red Devil already got great wingers….Park,Giggs,Valencia,Nani and the newcomer Young…and dont forget Obertan will fight for his position also..
    Besides winger,Alex Sanchez also can play behind strikers and it already filled with Rooney…Furthermore Diouf,Welbeck and Macheda will return..
    I have seen that a lot of people now thinks of Sneijder,Modric and Nasri but to me the most MU lack is defensive midfield.With Hargreaves being a shadow,Fletcher inconsistent performance,Carrick has been force to play as a holding midfield….i love to see Scholes and Keane era’s and thats why i think Rossi of Roma is an ideal man..but same with Sneijder..nearing 30..solution = with Jones play as holding midfielder Red Devil only need to search for attacking minded midfielder with great passing skills and bit younger… and i feel Nasri/Adam of Blackpool is fit for that…if Sir Alex opt to play Phil Jones at defense i think the addition of Jack Rodwell is better..

  23. Have been hoping all along to see Varane sign, but with Jones arriving I don’t see that happening-shame, because Varane is fantastic, he reminds me a lot of a young Laurent Blanc.

    More than a little confused over the signing of 2 wingers, neither of which we desperately needed, but I can see SAF’s train of thought, he’s thinking of getting stronger offensive representation in the big games in the CL, beating wingbacks down the line and getting in killer crosses or pinpoint through balls. It’s a logical idea, but not necessary, especially with deeper needs, namely 2 central midfielders to replace Scholes and (still) Keane.

    Have been secretly hoping for Crisetig from Inter and Diego from Wolfsburg, but I don’t ever see either of them turning up. Would also be happy with Schweinsteiger and Moutinho, both of whom are mild possibilities, but I wouldn’t want to place a bet on them.

    1. I definitely agree with you on Varane’s prospects, but in all honesty if I were forced to choose between him and Jones, I’d have to pick the latter. They’re both players of similar utility and quality, but I think the chance to have both Smalling and Jones (who could very well be England’s future centre-back pairing) is too good to pass up. They’ve already played together for a while and that chemistry will help United immensely when they’re both trying to break into the first team.

      Who’s the second winger you’re referring to? I know Ashley Young’s signing is as of right now a foregone conclusion but to my knowledge there hasn’t been any other major news concerning wingers, unless something obvious is just eluding me at the moment.

      Glad you mentioned Joao Moutinho (amongst others.) I’ve watched him as often as I can for the last couple of seasons and it simply baffles me why he hasn’t interested much interest from major clubs (at least to my knowledge.) In my opinion he’s one of (if not) the best CMs playing in Portugal. He can operate pretty much anywhere in the midfield: able to play a holding role in addition to having a real eye for goal. To top it off, he’s only 24, despite having played dominant football in the Portuguese league for a few years now.

  24. as frm the departure of paul scholes united certainly needs a medfielder to push up attacks n honda frm japan would a better choice or frm cska ….

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