OPINION: United should make three key signings this summer

There is no doubt that this season we have underachieved, despite spending significantly. Though our transfer market activity initially looked decent, the team hasn’t performed to the level required. Although it is still unclear whether or not Louis Van Gaal will still be the manager for next season, there are some signings that are essential to take Manchester United back to the top.

We definitely are not Arsenal – as Paul Scholes has correctly pointed out – and we can’t be happy with a cup and top four finish (which remains improbable). We are Man United, and we should be challenging for the title. It has been three years now since Sir Alex Ferguson retired; we have had two managers who have not improved us at all. Surely three years are enough for rebuilding.

So, here are three signings we must make…

Romelu Lukaku

This season after 34 games, we have only scored 42 goals, which is the lowest number amongst the top nine teams. We clearly need a striker who can guarantee us 20 goals a season. Wayne Rooney is past his best, in that position at least, and no longer lead the line like he used to. As for Martial, his best position remains up for debate, and despite Rashford’s early excellence, he’s bound to suffer a drop in form at some point, and will benefit from sharing the load.

Romelu Lukaku has often spoken of his desire to play for a big club, and with Everton languishing in 11th place and out of the FA Cup courtesy of United, he may be persuaded to leave. Right now, of course, there’s no guarantee of Champions League football, but that could still change over the final four games. Although he wasn’t good enough to beat De Gea at the weekend, Lukaku is young, has proven that he has what it takes to excel in the Premier League, and is the genuine attacking physical presence we need up top, as hoofing it to Fellaini isn’t always so effective. He will not come cheap though, with Everton reportedly demanding £65 million, but I believe he’d be worth the money.

Miralem Pjanic or Radja Naingollan

This season we have needed that dynamism in the midfield – someone who can get forward, spray the passes and come back to defend. If we look at our current crop of midfielders, we have Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Fellaini, Lingard, Mata and Carrick, who’s out of contract in the summer. Schneiderlin has been one of my favorite signings; he has the ability to break up play and is our best defensive midfielder. Schweinsteiger is old but brings authority and experience to the team. Herrera was great last season – unfortunately he has been a shadow of himself this season, but his impact from the bench at Wembley on Saturday showed he can still make a difference. Fellaini continues to divide opinion, but personally I believe he belongs nowhere near our team. Mata has been inconsistent, and Lingard is still learning. What we are missing here is a workhorse, someone with passion… someone like Roy Keane.

The two players who best fit the bill are Naingollan and Pjanic, both currently plying their trade at Roma. Pjanic is a more attacking midfielder, who plays like a playmaker, scores goals, assists goals and has a great right foot. However, he is not great defensively – he works hard no doubt, but isn’t a great tackler. Naingollan on the other hand is a more defensive midfielder. He can also break up the play and is everything you would want in a midfielder. He has one of the best tackling stats in Serie A, and has a very calm head. He is often regarded as a typical box to box midfielder, but his shooting needs work and he isn’t the best coming forward. We probably need a bit of both, so I will leave it up to you to decide what we need more. However, both of them are great technical players, who play like they really care. At around £35 million, they would both represent good value.

Sadio Mane

We have often rightly been criticized as boring this season. To remedy that, we need a creative, fast winger. Memphis Depay has had a disappointing first season, but with his potential I am sure we can wait for him to adapt to the Premier League and become the player he is meant to be, and Martial has been making the left-inside-forward position his own. On the other wing, we do have a problem regarding pace – Mata is an attacking midfielder and does not have the pace to play on the wing, and neither does Lingard, who also functions best as a CAM.

Though it seems like Mane has some attitude problems, he has received deserved credit for his work-rate. Many fans won’t support this signing because it isn’t a big name, but we don’t always need superstars – indeed, signing established elite-level players rarely works out well for us. The likes of Bale or Griezmann would be hard to resist, but would cost in excess of £70 million each, while Mane can likely be brought in for closer to £20m. You would get a pacey and creative attacking player, with solid Premier League experience, who has 12 goals and 6 assists to his name this season across all competitions. At the same time, he is young, and could add to the spark and enthusiasm our own youngsters have brought to the first-team.


These are the signings I believe we need – you can suggest some more in the comments. I left out defenders as I think we have defended very well this season. We have a great centre-back pairing and a world class goalkeeper, and with a promising group of youngsters, plus Luke Shaw and Phil Jones due to return, we don’t need more bodies at the back.

An ideal United team requires a combination of youth and world class players, and with youngsters like Fosu Mensah, Rashford, Pereira, Weir, Poole and many others to come, we could be a force to be reckoned with next season, but right now uncertainty reigns when it comes to who will be managing the team, and who they might buy or sell.