After a busy transfer window, The Hard Tackle takes a look at Manchester United’s performance in the summer transfer market.

After a brilliant second half of the season and a third-place finish for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tricky Red Devils, everyone expected a certain amount of intent in the transfer window. None of which was actually shown. Manchester United ended up making five transfers but not many except one, arguably two, would fit straight into the starting 11. 

An early transfer of Donny van de Beek, though probably not the need of the hour, showed intent, but was followed by next to no business – apart from some last-minute deals on deadline day

Marquee Signing

Alex Telles

While van de Beek or Edinson Cavani could arguably be the marquee signing as well, Alex Telles makes the cut as the left-back spot required reinforcement with more urgency.

Luke Shaw’s struggle to perform consistently, and United conceding 11 goals in their first 3 games showed the need for a new signing. Shaw also performed well on the left side of a back-three and Telles could be very good as a left wing-back. So it is a win-win situation if Ole chooses to take that route. 

With the current full-backs, United have very little attacking contribution from them. Telles changes that completely. He brings pace and power to the left side and also boasts a deadly left boot. The likes of Cavani, Martial in the box would feast on his crosses. Telles also has the ability to take the odd-shot and find the back of the net. 

He’s certainly an upgrade on Shaw, who has not seemed like his old self after several injuries, and aged 27 should be in his prime years. A Brazil call-up, the motive behind Telles’ desire to join a big club, could lead to a good run at Old Trafford for him. 

Inevitable Departure

Chris Smalling

After becoming out of favour under Solskjaer, much to the dislike of their fans, Smalling never seemed like making a comeback for the Red Devils. 

Smalling impressed at Roma last season on loan and the Italian club came for him again. It was pretty shocking to see a club like Manchester United drag that deal over a matter of £1-2 Million to the extent that the deal almost did not materialise.   

Roma always showed the desire to extend Smalling’s stay, and the Englishman reciprocated that feeling. The Italian outfit finished just outside the Champions League places last season, and under new manager Paulo Fonseca, they have played good football. The move is a good one for the Giallorossi, but Manchester United could have certainly used his experience.

Value For Money

Donny van de Beek

Manchester United signed van de Beek from Ajax for £35.7 Million. Arguably not the need of the hour, a player of his quality for that price is definitely value for money in today’s market. 

Donny has not managed a start for the Red Devils in the Premier League yet, but we have seen the impact he can have on games. He scored on debut versus Crystal Palace and completely changed the tide when he came on against Newcastle United as well. 

Van de Beek is a proven talent, who adds quality to this team. If Ole finds a way to incorporate his best midfield talents and get the best out of them, he could prove to be a shrewd signing.

A Player They Should Have Signed

Jules Kounde

While Jadon Sancho would have been the obvious pick in this department, and the desire to sign him was evident, I have chosen a more realistic option in Jules Kounde, who would have elevated this team.

Despite a solid defensive record in the 19/20 season, Manchester United were all over the place early into the 2020/21 campaign. Desire towards a left-footed centre-back was expressed by Ole and the fans too. Although Kounde does not fit that bracket, he was one of the finds of the 19/20 season and would have improved that backline.  

Harry Maguire has been an enigma of sorts, especially since the incident in Greece. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly both seem to be unreliable in the long run, and errors from David de Gea do not exactly help the backline either. 

The signing of Kounde from Europa League winners, Sevilla, would have shown tremendous intent and desire for improvement. Kounde is a sound defender who is very composed on the ball. Despite not being the tallest of lads, he has immense aerial ability and is also aggressive in nature – getting stuck in and winning a lot of tackles far from his own box.

Since Bruno’s arrival, Ole has shifted to a possession-based style and the problem is that his current defenders are not suitable in a high line. They have often seemed uncomfortable and get exposed. Kounde fits that system well and would have been a fantastic signing for the Red Devils.

A Player They Should Have Sold

Sergio Romero

Manchester United has several players to offload in this window and may not have been quite successful in their department. Players like Juan Mata, Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard all on fairly high wages ended up staying on the Red Devils’ wage bill.

Romero is the one player that Manchester United should have let go. Simply because he desired a move away from Old Trafford the most. With the return of Dean Henderson, Romero has fallen even further down the pecking order.  

Romero, at 33, still has the ability to be Argentina’s starting goalkeeper. For that, he will have to play and his situation at the Manchester club is quite saddening.  

With clubs like Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham all looking to sign goalkeepers this window, a move to any of those clubs would have suited the Argentinian. However, Man Utd’s insistence on a £10 million fee played a huge role in his inability to depart. His treatment is certainly questionable

Transfer Rating: 3/10

While a rating of three is extremely poor, most football fans would suggest that I have been rather generous. Man United began the transfer window with a statement signing of Donny van de Beek and then went onto not making a single signing until deadline day. A centre-back and a right-winger would have given this team the resources to build on a strong finish to last season. 

While the four signings on deadline day look like panic buys, they do offer some consolation. Cavani is an experienced and proven striker, who certainly offers more than Odion Ighalo. Telles improves the left-back squad by a margin and allows United to play in more ways than one.

The purchases of youngsters Amad Traore and Facundo Pellistri gives Manchester United options for the seasons to come in the future. These deals could prove to be fantastic buys, but do not improve the first-team presently. Both of the players are also right-wingers, which essentially could mean that it is unlikely for Jadon Sancho to make a move to Old Trafford in the near future. 

Sancho looks unlikely to make his way to Old Trafford in the near future (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Sancho looks unlikely to make his way to Old Trafford in the near future (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The signing of a more proven winger in the form of Federico Chiesa or Emiliano Buendia would have certainly improved the team. Similarly, a ball-playing defender would have as well. All in all, a pretty wasteful window from Man United – as they failed to both, buy and sell, the right players.

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