The Red Devils had a disappointing season, they missed out on the fourth place in the Premier League table for the second time in three seasons which mean they can not participate in the Champions League next season, a stumbling hit for a club of Manchester United’s calibre. An FA Cup win, Louis van Gaal’s inevitable dismissal, and José Mourinho’s much-discussed arrival, there were a number of good things to remember but overall it’s an immensely forgettable season for the Red Devils. Van Gaal’s second campaign in charge should have brought real progress, it didn’t and anything less than a UCL spot was always going to be viewed as a failure after a summer of significant spending. United’s finishing position is only a little short of shameful given the investment in new talent over the past two years.
The Champions League offered no respite as well with the Red Devils dumped out at the group stage during a miserable December period that included four defeats in succession. United’s Europa League campaign also ended in a humiliating fashion after a comprehensive defeat by rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Capital One Cup brought defeat to a lower-league side for the second season in a row.
Enough of the past and negatives, now let’s have a look at some positives;
One area where Van Gaal might gain credit is the use of youth players. Van Gaal offered playing time to 14 academy players during his two-year spell as United manager. United made a Strong statement by appointing Jose Mourinho as their new manager who is renown for his winning capabilities which give the Red Devil supporters something to cheer after a topsy-turvy season.
Before every new season arrives the transfer window and the fans are most excited at this time of the year.United fans will certainly be excited again as the Red Devils have spent over £300m in the last four transfer windows. Mourinho will be looking to strengthen his squad significantly to compete against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
So, here are the 4 players we think Manchester United could recruit in order to bolster their English Premier League title hopes.
MANCHESTER UNITED’S FOUR PRIMARY TARGETS IDENTIFIED
1. Julian Draxler
The 22-year-old German International was a target for United last summer but to everybody’s surprise, Wolfsburg completed the signing of the very talented German International. Long recognised as one of the most exciting young talents in Europe, Draxler has been on the shopping list of almost all the top clubs for some years.
Draxler scored 8 goals in 28 appearances all competitions for Wolfsburg last season but is on the verge of leaving the club after their disappointing Bundesliga campaign. Draxler to United seems possible as Wolfsburg had a very disappointing campaign in Bundesliga finishing 8th which means they are out of Europe and Draxler has said he would be considering his future after the Euros.
Jose Mourinho would love to have him on his team as United lack the creativity in their lineup and he could be the creative spark they need. He would be available for £30m, not a big deal of money for Manchester United.
2. Yevhen Konoplayanka
The 26-year-old Ukrainian international joined Sevilla on a free transfer from Dnipro last summer. Premier League sides Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs were also interested in him but he decided to join Sevilla. Konoplayanka made 52 appearances for Sevilla scoring 8 and assisting 8, not a bad start for a player who joined on a free transfer.
Manchester United lacked pace and sharpness on the wings in the recent past and Jose Mourinho is a lover of wingers who can drop to defend, so United may press for the transfer as he is only valued at £32m, as said, not a huge sum for United to pay. Also, the sum is considered as a low fee for an exceptionally talented player.
3. Shkodran Mustafi
The 24-year-old has been linked with the Red Devils in the past following some strong displays in La Liga, although he has been unable to prevent the club’s descent to the lower end of the table. The German international’s chances of a move could be boosted by financial problems likely to hit Valencia who missed out on a place in Europe’s elite championship.
Mustafi made 38 appearances for Valencia last season in all competitions scoring twice. Mustafi is strong in the air, he is good at intercepting the ball and his tackling is perfect. He is a centre-back but can play at right-back and United need cover in both the areas.His market value is £20m, again a ‘not so big’ money for United to spend. Manchester United will need to beat off competition from german giants Bayern Munich who eye the player as a perfect replacement to the injury prone Holger Batstuber.
4. N’Golo Kante
Is there an EPL club who do not want the French man? I doubt there is NONE. Manchester United have stepped up their interest in Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante amid interest from the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Paris Saint-Germain. The midfielder was a key proponent in Leicester City’s title triumph last season and started in France’s 2-1 win over Romania in the European Championships in France.
Reports suggest that Jose Mourinho is ready to meet his £22m ($31m) release clause. Mourinho wants Kante to add more steel to his midfield which currently has Morgan Schneiderlin as an enforcer in the middle of the park.
Utd would face competition from Arsenal to sign the French Midfielder.Arsene Wenger is known to be a huge admirer of Kante as he recently confessed his love for the French Midfielder in public. Wenger stated;
I admire and like N’Golo Kante a lot – he gives you ideas. He gives you the feeling that the higher the level he plays at, the more at ease he is. We are talking about numbers. He has the most interceptions in Europe. He has incredible quality. He feels the game, only very few people can do that. He’s always where he needs to be. It is very rare to have that in the central midfielder. Not always orthodox, but always in the right place.
Arsenal legend Ray Parlour also heaped a lot of praise on Kante. He stated;
He’s like two men in midfield with his work rate and the way he sets play up.You need that platform from midfield he would be a great signing for Arsenal if they could get him.
United have only made one signing in the transfer window so far. Eric Bailly arrived in a £30m deal from Villareal. Other than the Baily deal, the Red Devils completed a deal for Feyenoord wonder-kid Tahith Chong.
Depending on the transfers discussed above, this is how Manchester United’s starting XI will look: