Manchester United are attempting a summer rebuild as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to put a disappointing campaign squarely in the rear-view mirror.
It is now just eight weeks until the Premier League transfer window closes and we have taken a look at the club’s plans and the work required.
WHAT BUSINESS DO UNITED WANT TO GET DONE?
While the search continues for a technical director reporting to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the club are in numerous discussions regarding potential transfers.
United normally like to adopt a three in, three out approach, but this summer there is likely to be more activity as Solskjaer attempts to improve the squad.
Talented Daniel James became the Norwegian’s first signing last week when completing his move from Swansea in a deal that could reach around £18million, but that is unlikely to assuage United’s need for a more experienced attacking outlet on the right.
James fits the profile of the young, British players they would like to sign where possible, as do Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Leicester defender Harry Maguire – two players understood to be of interest to the Old Trafford giants.
The accent on youth and promise in United’s search is clear but signing experience cannot be ruled out as the club are aware of the need for leadership within the squad.
WHAT ISSUES STAND IN THE WAY?
The transfer market is tougher than ever, even for a club of United’s standing. Premier League sides at a lower rung than United can afford to make big signings and, maybe more importantly, reject interest in their best players, unlike when United used to be able to poach the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick from Tottenham.
Then there are the inflated asking prices to navigate, with Kyle Walker’s move to Manchester City seen as having more of an impact on the cost of defenders than Virgil Van Dijk’s world-record move to Liverpool.
United are understood to be willing to pay big bucks for the right person, but the price is driven by the desperation of the buyer as well as the talent of the player – plus, in United’s case, the size of the club has an impact on the fee.
Countless individuals have been linked with a move to Old Trafford, most recently West Hame’s Issa Diop, but the small matter of an unglamorous Europa League campaign is sure to dissuade some.
WHO WILL BE LEAVING?
Paul Pogba has been the subject of widespread links to an exit, but there has remained an insistence from United that the France midfielder is not for sale.
It would take an enormous offer for that stance to waver. Romelu Lukaku is understood to be open to a move to Italy, while the future of out-of-sorts Alexis Sanchez is up to Solskjaer – plus there is the small matter of finding a buyer capable of carrying his wages.
It is understood that Juan Mata remains in discussions with United ahead of his contract expiring at the end of June, while the impasse with David De Gea over a new deal remains.
The summer exit on free transfers of Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have already been confirmed, while James Wilson and Regan Poole, among others, are being released.
Matteo Darmian looks set to get the exit he has long craved, while Marcos Rojo continues to be linked with a departure.
The futures of the likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe and Dean Henderson have yet to be confirmed, while United are considering forming strategic partnerships to make sure loan moves are more fruitful and that development is not stunted by the current under-23 league system.
WHAT IS NEXT?
United are hoping to get more business done before the bulk of Solskjaer’s squad return to training on July 1.
The players will undergo testing and rigorous fitness regimes before jetting off on their pre-season tour on July 7. Friendlies against Perth Glory and Leeds await in Australia, before facing Inter Milan in Singapore and Spurs in China.
Solskjaer will lead United to Norway to take on hometown club Kristiansund, with pre-season rounded off with a friendly against AC Milan in Cardiff. The transfer window for Premier League clubs shuts at 5pm on August 8, with United’s campaign beginning at home to Chelsea on August 11.
The South Korean icon, who made over 200 appearances for United during the club’s most storied period after signing from PSV Eindhoven in 2005, is fondly remembered despite not being the most glamorous of players.
While higher profile superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand naturally stood at the forefront of United’s success, the versatile and incredibly hard-working midfielder carved out a pretty impressive profile of his own, claiming four Premier League titles as well as Champions League, League Cup and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs during his stay with the club.
Since retiring in 2014, Park has since studied for a Management, Law and Humanities of Sport MA at De Montfort University, in Leicester, even famously turning out for the student union football team while there.
And the 38-year-old clearly still has the heart – and lungs – for the game after he showed his skill and engine remains after surprising a Sunday League game in Korea by playing as a fill-in.
Watch the video below (with English subtitles) to see how Park got on
Manchester United have completed the signing of Wales winger Daniel James from Swansea.
The 21-year-old has signed a five-year contract, with the option to extend for a further year, to become manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing at Old Trafford.
The deal is worth a reported £15 million.
James, a graduate of the Swansea academy, scored five goals and made 10 assists in 38 appearances during an impressive 2018-19 campaign in which he broke into the Championship side’s first team.
Solskjaer told United’s website: “Daniel is an exciting young winger with lots of skills, vision, exceptional pace and a good work ethic. He had a great season with Swansea City and has all the attributes needed to become a Manchester United player.
“We are delighted he has signed with our club and we are all looking forward to working with him. This is the perfect environment for Daniel to continue his development.”
James, who joined Swansea at the age of 16, took his chance to shine after being given an opportunity following the club’s relegation from the Premier League a year ago.
Such was his progress that he was close to joining promotion-chasing Leeds in January, only for a potential move to collapse.
He continued to be linked with other clubs, including Premier League Brighton, but United became clear favourites after expressing interest this summer.
A move was expected last month but the sudden death of the player’s father and international duty meant it was put on hold for a few weeks.
James said: “This is one of the best days of my life and a challenge I am really looking forward to. The Premier League is the best league in the world and Manchester United is the perfect place for me to continue to develop as a player.
“This is an incredibly proud moment for me and my family, however, it is tinged with sadness that my father isn’t able to share this experience with us. I am looking forward to working with Ole, meeting the team and getting started.”
James only made his debut for Swansea in February 2018 and the Welsh club are sorry to see him leave so early in his career.
Chairman Trevor Birch told the club’s website: “We are obviously hugely disappointed to lose a player of Daniel’s quality, especially after such a fantastic breakthrough season for us and the enjoyment he gave to those watching him.
“However, given the level of those performances and the fact he has one year remaining on his contract, it was inevitable that once a club of the calibre of Manchester United came calling it would be virtually impossible to hold on to him.
“Everyone at the club cannot speak highly enough of Daniel, not just as a footballer but also as a person. His development is also great testament to the work our coaches have done in nurturing his talent since he arrived at our academy as a 16-year-old.
“It goes without saying that we wish him well at his new club, especially after the sad loss of his father recently.”
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