Amongst the beginning of everything, Louis Van Gaal claimed he needed two classy players in each position to win the Premier League and Champions League- a statement that isn’t necessarily true considering I wouldn’t say any of the recent winners of either competition had that (except Bayern Munich obviously). If it is, though, United will need reinforcements, and I think I have an idea as to who.
This position seems to be stable. United has 2 great goalkeepers in David De Gea and Victor Valdes.
Right and Left Back:
At right back, Rafael is the only real option. Paddy McNair looked great against Cambridge but poor against Swansea (filling in from centre back). Antonio Valencia looks at home at right wing back in a 3-5-2, but he’s a bit too attack minded for the right back position in a formation with wingers. Nathaniel Clyne seems like the appropriate target to me from Southampton, and should be the primary one (right back talent is scarce). Alternative options would be Matteo Darmian and Seamus Coleman of Torino and Everton respectively, but neither team has lived up to expectations this season in defence, which makes potential purchases a red flag. As for left back, Luke Shaw is a great option despite what the media claims, and Daley Blind has established himself as an alternative option in terms of skillset.
Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo have looked great this season (barring the former’s red card against Manchester City). Phil Jones seems to be good enough to be part of the backup, but Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and Jonny Evans have been either too young or too inconsistent to establish themselves. This shouldn’t be a priority position, but Nicolas Otamendi from Valencia seems like a great purchase as he could form an Argentinean duo with Rojo and Smalling forming an English ones with Jones to backup.
Assuming Daley Blind is busy at left back, United only has 2 options in midfield: defensive midfielder Michael Carrick (who is 33) and box-to-box midfielder Ander Herrera. I’d like to see Morgan Scheniderlin and Victor Wanyama from Southampton, but it seems unlikely we’d get both. Either player is about equal to Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in terms of quality, but they offer physicality to compliment passing.
3rd Mid Position:
This position is a highlighted one. Marouane Fellaini should be enough here, with Juan Mata, Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera all able to offer something different to the position. That being said, a midfield of Schneiderlin, Herrera and Fellaini sounds balanced and capable.
Assuming united leans towards Louis Van Gaal’s 4-3-2-1 formation with inverted wingers, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria behind Wayne Rooney is perfect. Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young are fitting backups, but as Adnan Januzaj may lean towards Fellaini’s position, United may want to incorporate a new player. As much as I’d like to see Memphis Depay, I think the Red Devils need some youth academy production in their side, so a promotion for Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira wouldn’t go to waste.
Wayne Rooney is the clear starter here, and James Wilson is able to score a goal every 2.5 games already (with regular time I reckon he can reduce it to 2 within 2 years). Robin Van Persie should be given a chance too before he’s discarded for another younger striker: he could teach Wilson a lot and he is also able to produce stunning moments from off the bench. If he proves to be too expensive, Alexandre Lacazette fits the mould, and he’ll give Rooney a run for his money.
United doesn’t need as much as people seem to think, but here’s a list in order of priority:
- Nathaniel Clyne or an alternative right back
- Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama as central defensive and box-to-box midfielders, respectively
- Nicolas Otamendi or an under the radar centre-back
- Alexandre Lacazette or a tactically suitable striker
If Louis Van Gaal could get the first 3 of these, the window would be considered a resounding success.