The January transfer window passed without major incident for Manchester United, at least in terms of revenue.
While several stars have made their desire to leave Old Trafford known, with Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek being the lucky few to have their wishes granted, few other issues have been resolved.
While the winter window is notoriously difficult to do business, United have never looked to do anything despite agents repeatedly linking them to players and the clear need for improvement in several areas of the team.
Now United enter the rest of the season with a weaker squad as they aim to finish in the top four and with several issues to deal with heading into the summer.
1 – The manager must be hired as soon as possible
MEN Sport announced in January that the club were working on securing their next permanent manager before the end of the season, but that has yet to materialise.
United’s lack of activity in the market probably has a lot to do with the fact that any player caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick signs may not be favored by whoever comes to take his place, so the sooner that person is in the best plans for the summer market can be put in place.
Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag remain the favourites, while Brendan Rodgers is also under consideration, but all three are currently at work and signing them at all, let alone during the season, could still prove difficult.
The new manager is United’s biggest and most important task this year and another misstep could have dire consequences.
2 – Still need a defensive midfielder
The biggest gaping hole in United’s squad remains the defensive midfielder, which has been around for a few years now.
Although Fred and Scott McTominay have had several great individual moments and performances, they have rarely worked well as a partnership and United’s other options are either too young, aging, on loan or leaving in the summer.
Declan Rice is the prime target and he would be a great fit, but the competition for his signature will be fierce and the price high.
The problem needs to be fixed this summer anyway or another season of drastic underperformance will likely be on the cards.
3 – Exodus Replacement
United have put themselves in a situation where they will almost certainly lose four first-team first-team players – Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata – for nothing this summer.
With Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek potentially wanting to turn their loans into permanent departures as well, the first-team squad might seem a bit light on numbers.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s been said many times how bloated the squad is at the moment, but it all depends on how the club go about replacing those who leave.
There doesn’t have to be exactly the same number of entries as exits, but rather a few quality signings that can boost the team and can then be supplemented by the constant flow of promising talent from the academy. .
4 – Contracts to sort
What might be slightly worrying for the club, however, is looking forward to players whose contracts expire in 2023.
Currently, Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Fred, Diogo Dalot and Nemanja Matic are all out of contract at the end of next season, along with Phil Jones and Tom Heaton – who are likely to leave.
That leaves seven first-team regulars coming to the end of their contracts, which will mean a busy and costly 18 months for United. Some pretty big players too. On a lot of money.
Big decisions are going to have to be made about who will be offered new deals, whose one-year options will be triggered and who will go on sale, but if United are not careful and quick, they risk finding themselves in a precarious situation. and a costly negotiating position.
5 – Position of the goalkeeper
United have two stoppers in their ranks who want to be first choice and that’s untenable. It has remained unresolved for too long. David de Gea has deserved to keep the place all to himself this season with a brilliant resurgence that left Dean Henderson on the outside after appearing to be named No.1.
Henderson wanted to leave last month to start playing regularly again, but Rangnick didn’t want to leave his team on hold if anything happened to De Gea. Which couldn’t have improved the academy graduate’s morale much.
Now United are in an even trickier situation given De Gea’s contract. Do they renew the 31-year-old’s notoriously massive contract and allow Henderson to leave, only to see the Spaniard’s form plummet again? Do they keep a disgruntled Henderson on the bench for the remaining three years of his contract, his transfer value running out every year or trying or cashing in but then needing a replacement? Will they make Henderson No.1 next season even though De Gea has been excellent?
This is a really tricky riddle that is hard to give the right answer, but it has to be answered.
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