With Nunez gone, what next for Manchester United?

Manchester United started the last summer needing plenty of signings, particularly at centre back, striker and a right-winger. They went into the market and got probably the best option in the respective positions and grabbed Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sancho. Fast forward to this summer, Man United again enter the summer transfer window needing a centre-back, a striker and a right-winger. This sums up how messed up things are at the Old Trafford currently and how much work Ten Hag needs to put in to take the Theatre of Dreams back to its glory days.

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Manchester United is a club which is always linked with every big name in the market, and the same is the case this summer. With Rangnick moving on to the Austrian Head Coach position and not being retained in a consultancy role, it would now be up to Ten Hag and Murtough to identify and grab the right men for the club. They have to keep in mind that the players they sign should not only subscribe to the style of football ETH employs, but they should also be able to handle the pressure and expectations of a houseful Old Trafford with 75,000 fans and millions of people watching across the world.

United have been linked very strongly with Frenkie De Jong, who is believed to be leaving Barcelona due to the financial situation at the Camp Nou and with the midfield being the priority for Ten Hag, he would want to reunite with the Dutchman and bring him to Old Trafford. Other players linked to United are Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and Pau Torres, with the latter being linked to Tottenham as well.

Liverpool leapfrogging United to the signature of Darwin Nunez is seen as a huge blow to United’s plans, but it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because Nunez would have cost over 80 million, which United cannot afford to splash right now because they need reinforcements in other positions too. And even though Nunez is one of the best young talents across Europe, he still hasn’t been tested in a big league, and United cannot afford to take such a high money risk at the start of a rebuild. This has forced United to look at other options in the attacking positions, and they have had their heads turned towards the likes of Antony and Raphinha.

Both Brazilians share a high potential ceiling, and both have impressed in the last couple of seasons and are on the verge of a move to a big club. The situation of both the wingers is being monitored at the Carrington, and it won’t be long before a bid comes. But with the structure of United’s transfers and the policy they employ, you never know. The policy at Carrington has come under huge criticism even though we are still early days into the transfer window, but given how Man City and Liverpool have strengthened their already strong squads with two world-class strikers, United fans have started to get annoyed and are asking questions.

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Antony joined ETH at Ajax in 2020 when he was seen as a prodigal Brazilian-style winger with a bag of tricks, and his reputation has only grown in the last couple of years with several European clubs like Barcelona monitoring him. Raphinha, on the other hand, is Premier League proven. He joined Bielsa at Leeds in 2020 from Rennes. Both the Brazilian youngsters are well equipped with high-intensity football, more so, in particular, Raphinha, who played in one of the most highly intense teams in the history of the Premier League, Bielsa’s Leeds.

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With the traditional wingers being replaced by inverted wingers, Raphinha and Antony would be a great addition to United as their presence on the right flank would open a lot of options to attack for United. A left-footed right-winger can cut in, allowing the full-back to bomb on and put in a cross, or put in a cross with the left foot themselves, which Antony did many times last season, setting up Haller and with the dribbling ability, both of the Brazilians have got, they could dribble past a couple of defenders to open up a shot for themselves.

With Sancho doing the same thing on the left flank and one of Raphinha or Antony on the other, the problem of lack of deliveries towards Cristiano in the box might be solved. Over the years, we have also seen that inverted wingers also tend to get on the scoresheet more than the wingers in the past did, with the perfect examples being the likes of Mane and Salah. United could do the same trick with Sancho on the left flank and one of the two Brazilians on the right, both of whom have an eye for a goal. United’s set-piece woes during corners could also have an answer in Raphinha.

United should focus on closing the deal for one of the two in the coming weeks, with both being world-class talents. It would be very interesting to see how United would negotiate the deals in the coming days with competition coming from other top European clubs. They need to be quick and decisive as a now financially-reinforced Barcelona has also been keeping tabs on Brazilian duo. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.

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