Paddy Power ambassador and Liverpool legend Phil Thompson thinks Manchester United have had a great summer in the transfer market with Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo all headed to Old Trafford this summer for a combined spend of just over £100m – with some key areas of weakness addressed.
And don’t forget Tom Heaton arriving on a free transfer too.
The Kop idol has begrudgingly admitted that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have got it bang on with a right-footed forward, a world-class centre back and one of the best ever in Ronaldo. And he’s in no doubt the squad is stronger than what finished last season.
“I quite like what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been doing as manager of Manchester United,” Thommo told Paddy Power News. “He’s identified certain areas of the team that needs to be improved, but also knows they’ve surpassed the standard of the team that he had last season.
“People always say Victor Lindelof is not the best. He’s good, but he’s not top level. Raphael Varane has replaced him, who was proven at Real Madrid.
“The team also needed more pace and creativity to get back to the Man United way of playing, and they have brought in Jadon Sancho to help things there.”
Sancho was a bit of an enigma for England during the Euros with Gareth Southgate choosing to use him very sparingly. Most Premier-League watching fans won’t have seen much of the former Borussia Dortmund ace.
And with plenty of attention on him now following a £70m-plus move, it will be interesting to see if he thrives or wilts under the pressure. The 67-year-old knows it’s a big signing and that United will be expecting a serious return on the outlay.
“Sancho is a signing that interests me the most of all deals done in the summer window,” he added.
As a player, he’s got so much to prove and justify the big price tag.
“He was not heavily used enough for me at the Euros. If you ask people who watched the last few seasons, the Germans were amazed he wasn’t used against them. Manchester United need to get back in the title race, and he’s going into a team that have been far behind their rivals in recent seasons.”
For the shrewdness of the Varane arrival and potential of Sancho, there’s no doubt that it was the deadline-day return of Ronaldo which caused the biggest shockwaves. There is concern about how the now 36-year-old will fit in at United, but with Manchester City sniffing around, Thommo thinks it was a deal The Red Devils simply had to do.
He added: “United couldn’t pass up the opportunity to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo. He was possibly going to Manchester City which would have hurt them more, and I think getting that chance to take him back, at 36 years of age is just incredible. There’s not going to be any resale for him at the end of his contract, so it’s a big gamble but one worth taking.”
United fans will get their first chance to see Ronaldo back in the famous red jersey at home to Newcastle on September 11th after the international break.
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