Manchester United spent £135million in this summer’s transfer window – but will need to spend even more in 2022 to establish themselves as one of the best sides in Europe.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men completed the signings of Portuguese superstar and United icon Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s World Cup winner Raphael Varane and English starlet Jadon Sancho as they look to compete for the Premier League.
Having spent more than the other sides who finished in the top four last season, United are well equipped to embark on another title hunt.
But, having not won the league for nine years, and with rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea boasting better squad depth, there is a burning need for more acquisitions.
Some will argue that United did not need to bring in Ronaldo, having added to their attacking department in Sancho.
But the opportunity to benefit from the Portuguese’s brilliance one more was too strong to turn down.
Instead, United fans were hoping to sign a central midfielder, such is the poor talent pool in the engine room of their midfield.
With Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes excelling thus far, the attacking output is not a cause for concern.
However, United’s options in defensive midfield are not as impressive; with Fred and Nemanja Matic constantly producing poor performances, the Red Devils must sign someone in this position.
Eduardo Camavinga, Declan Rice and Saul Niguez were all touted for the role throughout the transfer window, but with Camavinga signing for Real Madrid, Saul moving to London to sign for Chelsea and West Ham quoting £100m for Rice, Old Trafford chiefs decided it was no longer a position of significance.
Although, with the midfield strength that Liverpool, City and Chelsea have, it is hard to consider United as title favourites – despite their attacking superstars.
The problem could escalate further next summer; with Pogba’s contract expiring at the end of June 2022, United would be hard-pressed to find a midfielder who plays in the same role as the Frenchman for a cheap price.
With Paris Saint-Germain hot on the tail of Pogba – who has five assists in just three games this season – there is genuine interest from a side who have fared better than United in recent seasons.
But United still have time to convince the Frenchman he would be better off at United, and a serious challenge for the title would help them do just that.
The club can also get to work throughout the season on identifying exactly who they want to be the side’s dominant new defensive midfielder from the 2022-23 season onwards.
Keeping Pogba and getting in a new holder such as Rice would go a long way to helping United become consistent challengers again.
And this could signal the end of his second spell as a United player, following his release to Juventus in 2012 and his subsequent return for £83m in 2016.
United meanwhile get their current campaign back underway at home to Newcastle on September 11 following the international break.
And with Ronaldo set to make his second home debut, tickets for the fixture are reportedly going for an insane £2,500.