Manchester United have had a superb start to the 2021 summer transfer window.
The Euros may not be over yet, but United have already secured a major big-money deal. The Red Devils would confirm earlier this week that they have agreed a deal in principle with Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund for Jadon Sancho.
We have agreed a deal in principle for the transfer of Jadon Sancho to United! ⚪⚫#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 1, 2021
The transfer will reportedly set United back £73m, making Sancho the club’s third-most expensive player ever, behind Paul Pogba and Harry Maguire.
Sancho has of course been lighting up the German top-flight since he departed Manchester City in 2017, having scored 50 goals and provided 64 assists in 137 outings for BVB.
What areas should Man United target?
Sancho’s arrival marks a great bit of business for United, and a big blow to the rest of the Premier League, as the winger will most certainly strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side next season.
But, whilst Sancho is, of course, a major reinforcement, it is still clear that the Red Devils need to improve several other areas of their squad.
In this article, 101 takes a look at the remaining positions in which United should target reinforcements this summer, in order to truly challenge the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool for the Premier League title in 2021/22.
Do Man United need a striker?
Throughout much of the 2020/21 campaign, a case could certainly have been made that Man United needed some fresh legs at centre-forward.
Anthony Martial, before the injury which ruled him out of the campaign’s final weeks and Euro 2020, was again proving that he is not cut out to be the main no.9 at a top, top club.
So, upon the summer window opening, the Man United faithful were no doubt hoping to see a significant amount of money spent on improving their side’s options at centre-forward.
However, the situation at Old Trafford has since changed, with the addition of a striker no longer a priority for United.
The first thing to have changed comes in the form of the late season form of Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan struggled for fitness during the first half of 2020/21. However, the 34 would begin to find both form and fitness as the campaign wore on, and finished the term looking back to his scintillating best.
Cavani then agreed to stay on at United for the forthcoming campaign. And though the veteran, who is now in the twilight years of his career, cannot play every single game next season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has another promising striking option to call upon next season.
That man is Mason Greenwood, who, like Cavani, had a superb end to the season just gone. Greenwood, due to United’s lack of quality on the right, was often forced to play out wide over the last two campaigns.
However, with Sancho now on the club’s books, Greenwood can finally be used as a centre-forward on a more frequent basis, providing an excellent back-up option to Cavani, and all but ruling out United’s need for a new striker this summer.
Will the Manchester powerhouse need to invest up top next year when Cavani leaves? Probably. But for now, it is not a priority area.
Midfield a concern for United
One area which Manchester United should move to strengthen this summer, however, is defensive midfield.
It has been clear for a while now that the Reds require reinforcements in the middle of the park.
Nemanja Matic is some way past his best, leaving United without a quality defensive midfielder.
This has led Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to start both Scott McTominay and Fred in a midfield pivot.
However, this system creates a number of problems, forcing Paul Pogba to be played out of position
Even more concerning, though, is the fact that, even when Fred and McTominay start together, United’s midfield still often looks shaky.
As a result, a young, no.6-style player should be brought in this summer, not only to help the Red Devils’ defence, but also to allow Solskjaer to field both Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in the same midfield three.
One player who could fit this role and has previously been named by 101 as a player United should target is Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria.
Yves Bissouma, currently of Brighton, would also likely fill this role well at Old Trafford.
Lindelof replacement needed
The next position in which Man United should strengthen following Sancho’s signing should come as a pretty obvious one to those who are regular viewers of the Premier League giants.
Outside of Harry Maguire, United’s centre-back options are severely lacking.
Victor Lindelof is Maguire’s current partner, but it is pretty obvious that the Swede should not be a regular starter in a team that want to win the Premier League.
Eric Bailly is also an option, but his horrid injury record means the Ivorian never really earns a consistent run of playing time to build form and fitness.
So, it is pretty apparent that Man United should be signing a centre-back this summer.
One option to have been heavily linked with the Reds of late is Real Madrid and France star, Raphael Varane.
Varane would bring a wealth of experience and quality to Solskjaer’s backline, and, along with Sancho and a new no.6, would see United in possession of one of the best starting elevens in the Premier League next season.