Manchester United’s disastrous start to the new season has underlined the urgent need for them to make a number of key signings before transfer deadline day.
With just 15 days left until the window shuts on September 1, the pressure is on United – currently rock-bottom of the Premier League – to sign the players they need to rescue a season that is already in crisis.
After spending £1billion on transfers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 with the club’s last league title, United are at their lowest point, with an under-performing squad that is not fit for purpose.
So far, United have signed just three players – Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, and midfielder Christian Eriksen – but they need at least four more big signings if new boss Erik ten Hag is to have any chance of pushing up the table.
United’s reluctance to spend big can no longer be justified after such a humiliating start to the campaign, with the Red Devils likely to have to spend around £200million – in addition to the £65m already spent – on the players they need.
Mirror Sport takes on a scouting role, identifying and assessing the players United should be looking at if they are to give Ten Hag the squad he needs to make United competitive again. They won’t get them all of course, but they desperately need something, and two or three would certainly help…
Illan Meslier (Leeds)
David De Gea’s calamitous display in the 4-0 rout at Brentford underlined the need for competition, after Dean Henderson went on loan to Nottingham Forest. Meslier, valued at £25m, is the ideal choice, adept at playing the ball out from the back as Ten Hag wants, and could ultimately replace De Gea.
Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)
Newcastle’s capture of Nick Pope from Burnley has seen Dubravka demoted to No.2. With De Gea’s future as United’s No.1 far from certain, Dubravka could be tempted by the prospect of becoming first-choice at United.
Pau Torres (Villarreal)
Spain international Torres has long been linked with a move to United’s neighbours, Manchester City, but has yet to leave Villarreal. Torres is a superb reader of the game, strong in the air and likes to bring the ball out from the back, all attributes that would suit the style of play Ten Hag wants to impose.
Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)
Just 20, Gvrardiol already has 10 caps for Croatia and is emerging as one of the most promising central defenders in Europe. United have signed a left-footed centre-back in Lisandro Martinez, but recruiting Gvardiol would allow Ten Hag to push Martinez into midfield, where he played at times for Ajax.
Declan Rice (West Ham)
Ten Hag admitted in pre-season he would like to sign English players, but they are simply too expensive. United are unwilling to meet West Ham’s £100m valuation of England midfielder Rice, although he is precisely the profile of the player they need to build their midfield around.
Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig)
United’s former interim boss Ralf Rangnick recommended Laimer to the club before he was jettisoned after his unsuccessful spell in charge. The Austria international would suit the high-pressing style Ten Hag wants to play and would be in United’s price range at around £30m.
Ruben Neves (Wolves)
Another technically gifted, high-pressing midfielder, Neves has been on United’s radar for some time and scored a 25-yard wonder goal against them in a 1-1 draw in August 2019. At 25, and with five seasons in the Premier League, he would slot it seamlessly at United.
Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
Liverpool were heavily linked to Bowen, before signing Luis Diaz, but the West Ham and England wide man would be a superb fit for United. West Ham would be reluctant to sell and, with three years left on his contract, United would have to pay up to £70m for him, but it would be worth it.
Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven)
Dutch winger Gakpo is valued at around £35m by PSV, managed by former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. The 23-year-old scored 21 goals in 47 games last season and impressed Ten Hag when he was manager of Ajax. After being priced out of a move for Ajax forward Antony, United should move for Gakpo, who has the hunger and quality to be a hit at Old Trafford.
Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
Another player recommended to United by Rangnick, Nkunku’s versatility in being able to play anywhere across the forward line makes him a shrewd investment. A right-footed forward, adept at beating opponents and with impressive pace and finishing, the 24-year-old France international, valued at around £65m, would immediately improve United’s attacking threat.
Anthony Gordon (Everton)
Chelsea have seen a £45m bid for Gordon rejected, but United could go in with a higher offer to try to land the highly-rated forward. United sent a scout to Goodison Park on the opening weekend of the season to assess Gordon, 21, a fearless and forthright forward, who would add some much-needed impetus to their limp attack.