United’s six game winning run came to an end at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, but those 18 points gained previously against Sunderland, Newcastle, Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City has given Louis van Gaal’s men some breathing space in United’s quest for Champions League qualification. United are currently trading at short figures to end the season with a return to the top table of European football – with those six wins pivotal to United’s progress.
If the Reds do indeed secure a top-four finish, then all eyes will be on United’s recruitment policy for next season. Another large plundering into the transfer market looks likely at Old Trafford this summer, and here we will look at five potential new arrivals that could propel United back to the summit of the Premier League and beyond.
New Dutch master?
PSV Eindhoven forward Memphis Depay has been heavily linked with a summer move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, and the 21 year-old Dutch international has been in excellent form this season. Depay has netted 20 league goals in 27 appearances for PSV – who currently holds a 12-point lead over rivals Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Depay is obviously well known to van Gaal after being involved in Holland’s successful World Cup campaign last summer, and if United do bring in the speedy attacker, the wide man will add versatility – and blistering pace – to the forward line.
Strength in defence
Manchester United have several options in the centre-back position, but still lack a ball-playing defender of real quality – step forward Mats Hummels. The German World Cup winner has also been long touted up for a move to Old Trafford, and with manager Jurgen Klopp deciding to step down at the end of the season, perhaps Hummels will also be leaving Borussia Dortmund.
At 26, Hummels is the right age for a big move, and would give United some added stability in defence, that has been missing on many occasions this season.
Time to return?
One priority for United this summer must be to try and find another midfield lynchpin to either compliment or eventually replace Michael Carrick. At 32, Carrick is still performing to a very high standard within the engine room, but United have to look to the future. It would be a very expensive mistake to go back on, but Juventus’ Paul Pogba would be an ideal choice to strengthen the midfield area.
Since leaving Old Trafford, Pogba has developed into one of Europe’s top prospects, and would seriously upgrade United’s midfield options – although the 21 year-old would be a very expensive purchase.
The high-profile loan signing of Radamel Falcao on Deadline Day last summer has proven to be an expensive mistake, and it seems unlikely that the Colombian hitman will be making his Old Trafford deal permanent, so another striker could well be on van Gaal’s radar this summer. One player who could be of interest is PSG’s Edinson Cavani.
The Uruguayan forward has netted 25 goals in 59 league appearances since joining from Napoli almost two years ago for a huge £50m fee – and could be looking for a new challenge with United ready to pounce.
Antonio Valencia has performed admirably in recent weeks in his right-back role, but Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne could be heading north to stiffen up the competition. A previous United target under Sir Alex Ferguson in his days at Crystal Palace, Clyne has developed into England’s first choice right-back in recent internationals, and has all the raw materials to make a fine attacking full-back in the red shirt of United.
Clyne would also team-up with Southampton old-boy Luke Shaw if he was summoned to Old Trafford, and both players could be United’s defensive bookends for years to come.