With a week left for the January transfer window to close, we take a look at two ins and outs that need to happen at Manchester United before the end of the month.
Manchester United’s season is headed towards disaster. While the league table may suggest otherwise, considering thatthey are fifth in the standings, and remain alive in all cup competitions, there is no denying the sense of turmoil that is surrounding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at the moment.
Manchester United are off to their worst ever start in a Premier League campaign, while Wednesday’s shock 2-0 defeat to Burnley meant the Red Devils had been defeated at home by the Clarets for the first time ever since 1962.
Injuries have hampered Manchester United in the ongoing term to a certain extent, no doubt, but there is no denying that little progress has been achieved on the field. Pressure is mounting on the manager with each game, while the club’s recruitment strategy has been dragged into limelight for all the wrong reasons – once again.
Things have been only made worse by the club’s inability to close deals in the ongoing transfer window. First, Manchester United lost their battle to sign Erling Haaland, while they once again seem to have faced defeat in their pursuit of Bruno Fernandes.
There is no questioning the urgent need of reinforcements at Manchester United and with just a week left before the transfer window slams shut, the club are under intense pressure to complete deals. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle takes a look at two transfer ins and outs that need to happen at Old Trafford before the end of the month.
In: Emre Can (Juventus)
It is baffling as to how Manchester United allowed Ander Herrera’s contract to run down in the last summer. It is even more baffling that the club did not bring in a new midfielder in the transfer window, having lost Marouane Fellaini as well in addition to Herrera.
Paul Pogba has spent most of the season out on the treatment tables, while Scott McTominay has also succumbed to an injury, which has left United with just Fred and an ageing Nemanja Matic as the viable options in the centre.
Andreas Pereira offers next to nothing when deployed in a deeper role and for all his talk of promoting youth, Solskjaer has hardly turned to James Garner in the hour of need, leaving Manchester United exposed brutally. So, the need of another central midfielder is pivotal for the 20-time English champions heading into the second half of the season.
No Manchester United player in chances created stats.
👉 Pogba out from Sep
👉 Transfer window open
👉 #mufc haven’t signed midfield player
Ole need to demand transfers publicly but sadly he ONLY wants to be in job regardless of situation.
An incompetent manager. pic.twitter.com/e156yGnMDR
— Manchester is RED (@trackmufc) January 21, 2020
Manchester United explored the possibility of signing Inter Milan midfielder Matias Vecino on loan till the end of the campaign, only to be rebuffed by the Nerazzurri. With little time left, Manchester United need to look for someone who will be an improvement on their current options and has been made available in the transfer window.
And Juventus star Emre Can comes to mind. The German international is surplus to requirements in Turin and is on the lookout for a new club, making him an enticing target for United. While the midfielder’s past association with Liverpool might be an issue, Can has the potential to be a shrewd addition to Solskjaer’s side.
The 26-year-old was playing some of his best football prior to his free transfer to Juventus in 2018, but his progress has stalled in Italy. Nevertheless, he is entering the best years of his career and has plenty of experience in the England, which will be extremely valuable. Moreover, Can’s ability to play as a holding midfielder or essay a box-to-box role would make him a handy option.
With Can keen on leaving and Juventus open to offloading him, there is a good chance that Manchester United can work out a loan deal to see if he is able to adapt before making a permanent investment in the German.
Out: Marcos Rojo
Solskjaer spoke of a major clearout in the summer transfer window and Marcos Rojo was believed to be the most likely candidate to face the axe. However, the Argentine ended up staying, but has hardly featured in the ongoing campaign. A signing from the Louis van Gaal era, Rojo is in his sixth season at the club and has accumulated 122 appearances so far.
Rojo made a strong start to life at Old Trafford under van Gaal, but injuries hampered his growth at the club and with the arrivals of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in the past couple of years, coupled with the emergence of Axel Tuanzebe, the 29-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at the club.
The Argentine international has just featured 29 times for the Manchester United first-team since the 2017-18 season, with only 9 appearances coming in the ongoing term.
Rojo last time appeared for the Red Devils in November last year and with chances unlikely to be forthcoming moving forward in the season, the time is right for him to part ways with the club. By offloading him, Manchester United will be freeing up space on their massive wage bill, chalking off his £130,000-a-week salary.
In: Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
Another questionable decision made in the summer transfer window by Manchester United was to offload Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan without bringing in any replacements as Solskjaer decided to put his trust in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and teenage striker Mason Greenwood.
Rashford has excelled this term, but a stress fracture in his back has sidelined him for at least a couple of months. Greenwood has shown great potential, but lacks the experience to be the leading marksman of the team, while Martial, as has been the case for most of his tenure at United, has been extremely inconsistent.
This has left Manchester United short on options in attack and having spent considerable time in their failed pursuit of Erling Haaland, the Red Devils need to act fast and secure a new striker at the earliest. PSG’s wantaway star Edinson Cavani has been mooted as a target, but the Uruguayan is interested in joining Atletico Madrid.
Raúl Jiménez in the Premier League this season:
• 23 starts
• 11 goals
• 6 assists
One of the most complete CFs in the league. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/AzD1n17Lqn
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 23, 2020
Another player who has been linked with a move to United is Wolves’ star Raul Jimenez and while he might not fit the profile of players the club recruited in the summer, he would be a great addition to this side. The Mexican international has been one of the most prolific goalscorers in England since coming to Wolves in 2018.
Having scored 17 goals last season, Jimenez has already bettered his tally this time out, netting 20 times in 37 matches in all competitions. The 28-year-old has proven himself in the Premier League and is an excellent all-round striker with great finishing abilities while being strong in the air and is good at holding up play as well.
Jimenez has spoken previously about being open to leaving Wolves should a big club come calling. While he may not be able to play for United in the Europa League, having represented the Midlands club in the competition, the 28-year-old will nevertheless be an excellent addition to Manchester United’s attacking armoury and can help revive their league campaign.
Out: Jesse Lingard
From being Manchester United’s big game player to becoming almost an afterthought, Jesse Lingard’s fall from grace at Manchester United has been swift and hard. The Englishman was never a gifted footballer, but had developed the knack of scoring important goals in big games – be it the FA Cup final (15-16), the Community Shield (16-17) or the League Cup final (16-17).
The 27-year-old enjoyed playing against Arsenal, saving his best for the Gunners, while he had also scored key goals against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool as well. However, things are not the same anymore. Lingard last scored a goal in the Premier League in December 2018, while his last assist in the top-flight was in January last year. A whole year with no goal or assist is a long rut.
In the league this season:
🏴 Jesse Lingard
🏟 Games: 19
🎯 Assists: 0
🏟 Games: 14
🎯 Assists 1 pic.twitter.com/0XqhMTEufR
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 19, 2020
Lingard’s only goal of the ongoing campaign came against European minnows Astana in the Europa League. Injuries and illness have played a part in his steep decline, while off-field issues such as his mother’s illness have had an effect on his performances. But, as things stand, the England international finds himself on the periphery of the United starting XI.
Fans too have grown frustrated with the academy graduate, with the obscene video he posted on his social media account in the summer not going down well, while the fact that he has aligned with Mino Raiola, the super-agent who has been bad-mouthing Manchester United at every given opportunity, hasn’t reflected well either.
Reports have claimed that Raiola is already offering him to clubs in Italy and it seems like the time is right for Manchester United to cut ties with Lingard.