The transfer window is well and truly open, with some sides already securing their 1st and 2nd signings. Manchester United have been linked to many players and seemingly made some offers for certain players but nothing has been concluded as of yet.
So, lets look into what options Erik ten Hag’s side should be looking at.
The positions that I will be focusing on are:
Right Centre Back
First off we will focus on the number 9 position. It was highly acknowledged that a proper 9 should be top of the list for transfers this summer, having struggled in that department last season. In the last 12 months we’ve seen Cavani and Ronaldo leave add in the Greenwood situation, and it leaves Man United having to rely on an injury prone Martial and loan option of Weghorst leading the line for the final 6 months of the season.
There are certainly options on the market, I put them in 3 different categories. The luxury options, long term options and stop gap options. Most would be able to tell who is in each option, we’ve been heavily linked 2 strikers who will cost in the region of £100m+ in Kane and Osimhen, both of which massively elevate this ten Hag side, but could perhaps be priced out of the move with there being question marks around the budget, amid the ownership situation. So, there is a belief it may be a year too early for those 2. You then have the stop gap options with the likes of Taremi who can fill in for a year whilst we wait for Harry Kane’s contract to run out. Finally, you have the long term options in Ramos, Kolo Muani and my choice in Rasmus Hojlund.
Hojlund is enjoying his breakthrough season, both for club and country having a goal contribution every 119 minutes this season. He is an excellent option for the future, he is an incredibly intelligent striker already at the age of 20. His standout attributes are his athleticism, aggressive speed, ability to beat a man and his incredible movement in the box. His movement has allowed him to be in the top 1% of strikers when it comes to progressive passes and in the top 7% for touches in the box. He is incredibly direct on the ball, only having eyes for goal which is shown by the fact that he is in the top 25% for progressive carries and top 40% for progressive passing, whilst being in the top 17% for successful takeons.
One thing we haven’t seen much from him is his ability to be a high-volume passer, we’ve not seen much of his range with Atalanta making the 8th most passes in Serie A and having the 9th most possession. We are also yet to see his full pressing ability, with Atalanta ranking 12th in the league when it comes to pressing intensity. However, from what we’ve seen of his aggressiveness and physicality I don’t see it being an issue.
A massive attribute to his game that Man United and Bruno specifically will benefit from is Hojlund’s pace in behind coupled with his ability to hold off his defender and getting a shot away, with Bruno playing the most through balls in the league and creating the most chances in the league, along with Man United scoring the most goals off of quick transitions, it seems like a match made in heaven.
It is highly publicised that there is a hold up in contract talks between Man United and David de Gea, mainly on the United end with them not being convinced that he should be the number 1 next season. When it comes to the goalkeeper situation it feels like if we are looking for a new first choice then it is between 3 goalkeepers in Raya, Costa and probable favourite Onana.
So, why is Onana seemingly the runaway favourite out of the 3? There are many factors in which Onana beats out his competition. He is far more experienced on the big stage, having recently been in goal for Inter Milan in the Champions League and being an ever present in the Champions League during his time at Ajax, whilst seemingly being the most suited stylistically to ten Hag’s style.
The ten Hag factor is a big one in a lot of people’s eyes as he comes in knowing the nuances and automatisms of ten Hag’s style and so fits in seamlessly whilst the other options may need time to fully integrate into the side. With the style as well, it is also constant spoken about that de Gea just hasn’t got the right skill set to allow Erik’s vision to be fully recognised, whether it is due to his poor distribution and passing range or due to his incapability to play in the sweeper role.
This is the deal that is seemingly progressing fastest with multiple bids already being tabled for Mount, seeing Man United and Chelsea currently negotiating a final price.
However, if they were to walk away there is options out there, once again you have the luxury option in de Jong with the more gettable options in Bellegarde, Rabiot and Kudus. Based off of recent reports though I am going to operate off the assumption than Mount is still first choice.
The question has to be asked though, why is an advanced 8 or a 2nd and 3rd phase midfielder seen to be so important?
Based off of the players in which we have been linked to and the system shift that we have been trying to implement throughout the season it looks as though ten Hag will be wanting to fully implement his 433/ 2323 in possession, for this to properly work he needs a more combative midfielder than Eriksen in that area, someone like Mount suits it perfectly.
He is able to create chances, score goals and helps the press from the front, Eriksen is in the bottom 2% of midfielders for tackles, being in the bottom 1% for middle 3rd tackles and in the bottom 29% for attacking 3rd tackles. Whilst Mount is in the top 6% for middle 3rd tackles and top 7% for attacking 3rd tackles. Mount is also an excellent goalscorer, he has an excellent technique and can deliver a brilliant set piece. Eriksen is elite when it comes to set piece taking but is statistically one of the most wasteful in front of goal in the world.
This one is trickier to find the right profile player as they will have to come in accepting a more limited involvement in the squad. This will be back up to Casemiro for the majority of the time whist coming in at times in the games in which we expect to operate deeper. Which for me rules out the likes of Caicedo and Rice, as the budget simply won’t allow it. There are a few options, well known and not so well known, you have the likes of Lavia who had a decent season with Southampton last season and should be available at a reduced price after Southampton’s relegation. You have the likes of Alan Varela out in Argentina, who is lesser known but has a very low release clause and could be worth the punt, or the person I would recommend is Florentino Luis.
He is enjoying a somewhat breakout season at Benfica after various loans, which has seen him play in Portugal, France and Spain already at the age of 23. He started 23 games in the league last season which shows that the lack of game time won’t be a massive factor. He is a brilliant ball winner and high volume passer, he certainly should be on the radar of a lot of top sides.
He is in the top 3% for tackles, top 1% for interceptions and top 15% for aerials won, so in a defensive sense he is clearly combative and willing to get around the pitch but also on the ball he is fairly technically good, he averages 79 passes per game, putting him in the top 2% in that regard and he’s very good at playing the ball through the lines from a deep position being in the top 14% for progressive passes and in the top 2% for passes into the final 3rd.
He is also very capable at pressing from the front if you want to partner him with Casemiro, he ranks in the top 1% for final 3rd tackles, top 9% for middle 3rd tackles and top 15% for defensive 3rd tackles. He is also displays a brilliant reading of the game ranking in the top 1% for interceptions. He would be very astute signing, the only worry is that he hasn’t played as a single 6 yet, always featuring in a double pivot but who better to learn from than Casemiro.
Right Centre Back
This feels like a transfer that on the face of it many would see as a downgrade just because we know how good Varane can be on his day. However, we can’t rely on him to be fit for a run of games and in terms of passing range he is fairly limited, having 2 central defenders that are able to play line breaking progressive passes opens a lot of avenues. It was highly public our interest in Kim Min Jae but with him seemingly favouring a move to Bayern, lets look at some alternatives. You have the likes of Diomande who is going under the radar but the 2 that are seemingly been looked at are Todibo and my personal preference Disasi.
What exactly would Disasi bring to this side? On the surface some of his stats are worrying, especially his tackling and clearance stats, but that however is a good thing, he has an excellent reading of the game and instead of charging 1v1 instead he is jockeys and slows the opposition down and blocks the subsequent pass or allows his teammates to get back in shape, this is evident by the fact that he is in the top 14% of central defenders for interceptions as well being in the top 7% when it comes to avoiding bookings.
In transition he is very important to his side both offensively and defensively, ranking in the top 19% for ball recoveries and when it comes to his offensive capabilities, he’s one of the best statistically. He’s in the top 4% for progressive carries and top 4% for progressive passes also, ranking in the top 8% for goal creating actions. So, we’ve established he’s an excellent ball progressing defender, he’s also got an excellent range of passing as well ranking in the top 15% for switches and top 28% for long passes. He loves a diagonal over the top to his winger.
He’s also an excellent asset in both boxes from set pieces, he is Monaco’s captain and it is evident to see why, he has a great command of the back line and really leads by example, especially when defending set pieces, ranking in the top 14% for aerial duel % and is also in the top 7% of defenders when it comes goals. Getting 3 goals and 3 assists from centre back, that is more than Varane, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, Malacia and Martinez combined.