If there was any doubt over who should be Manchester United’s manager for next season before now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the job his own with a remarkable come back on Wednesday night that saw them knock PSG out of the Champions League.
If the Premier League season had started when the Norwegian became interim manager, United would be five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, and seven points ahead of Liverpool.
Obviously football doesn’t work like that but United supporters will be left to wonder what would have happened if their two rivals hadn’t been given such a head start thanks to Jose Mourinho’s opening months in this campaign.
However, next season the slate will be wiped clean and United will be looking to challenge for all major honours, with Ole staying at the wheel. But he will need reinforcements to make the dream of reclaiming the title a reality.
So, who should they buy?
If Eric Bailly’s opportunity to play in both games against PSG was an audition for his future at the club, he failed, badly. United need a new central defender, with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo proving too injury prone to be relied upon, and Koulibaly seems to be at the top of most fans’ wish lists.
Koulibaly credits Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri with the huge progress he has made over the past year or so to make a claim for being one of the best in the world in his position. While the speed of the Premier League will require for him to make the step up, his ability to read the game and keenness to get stuck in would be real assets for United.
The Senegalese defender turns 28 this summer so likely has one big move left in him before the end of his career. United don’t tend to like splashing the cash on older players but, such is the need for an experienced, quality centre-half, they should bite the bullet on this one and pay Napoli what they want.
United’s right side of the pitch has been a problem for some time, having never really replaced Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence. The likes of Antonio Valencia and Juan Mata have both tried, and have gone through good spells during their time at the club, but haven’t provided the magic United supporters had become accustomed to out wide.
Jadon Sancho was in Year 5 at school the last time Arsenal made it through a CL Last 16 tie.
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) March 5, 2019
While Sancho can play as an inside forward too, which would be pleasing to Solskjaer who has had great success in rotating his attacking line so far this season, his pace and skill down the right flank would be welcomed at Old Trafford.
The fact that rivals City let this talent slip through the net might make the transfer even sweeter for the fans. The prospect of him seeing playing alongside the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial is mouth-watering.
While Diogo Dalot’s progress is coming along nicely, the teenager wouldn’t lose out if he got to train alongside and learn from German right-back Kimmich. The 24-year-old has been hailed as one of the best right-backs in the world and has a whole host of honours, for club, country and individually. He was named in the team of the tournament for the 2016 Euros, Germany’s player of the year in 2017, and in the Champions League squad of the season in 2018.
Kimmich is a versatile player too, capable of playing in a number of positions, including midfield, which could make him good value for money.
Bayern would certainly ask for a huge sum for him, and United have been burnt with their transfers from the German club before, even if they were to entertain bids. He is potentially a future captain of the club and you would imagine he would have to kick up a real fuss, which wouldn’t be in his nature, if he was to be sold.
That said, he would be a huge upgrade on Ashley Young and a great mentor for Dalot if Ed Woodward could get the deal done.
Approaching the end of his career, the Barcelona midfielder would provide United with some experience in the middle of the park.
The Spanish club are reportedly open to letting him leave, aware that this summer will likely be their last opportunity to recoup any money for him. Frenkie de Jong has been lined up as his replacement, with a deal agreed to join Barcelona from Ajax in the summer, so as important as Rakitic is to them, they may be open to offers.
The PSG midfielder is a free agent at the end of the season after deciding against extending his deal with the French club. He’s only 23 too, which would make him doubly appealing to Woodward.
Rabiot is a good passer of the ball and would provide some competition for Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera alongside Paul Pogba.
He was seen partying on Wednesday night following United’s win in the Champions League. Maybe that’s a sign!
PSG sporting director Antero Henrique on Adrien Rabiot being spotted in a nightclub after the Manchester United Champions League defeat: "I find his attitude & lack of professionalism towards the club, his teammates & supporters unacceptable." https://t.co/3A0hzpyxpM
— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) March 7, 2019