Manchester United have signed a number of new players this summer, including signing Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. The Frenchman is one of the best defenders in Europe and will be expected to help the club win titles.
Manchester United have been spending a lot of money in the transfer market. The club has signed Varane and Sancho as well as bringing back former manager Solskjaer. It is difficult to say whether Man United will be able to win titles with this new team, but it is important that they try.
6:00 a.m. ET
Dawson, Rob Correspondent
Although no trophies are awarded in July, Manchester United has utilized the summer to demonstrate that they are still keen in winning any.
Jose Mourinho began to think towards the conclusion of his tenure at Old Trafford that the club was content to merely play in the major tournaments rather than win them (United hasn’t won a trophy in any competition since 2017). He joked after coming into a news conference and finding no refreshment for him on the desk: “Is there no water? Are we putting money aside for the next transfer window?”
In the summer of 2018, his discussions with the Glazers, as well as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, were not so light-hearted. He anticipated substantial investment to close the gap after finishing second in the Premier League behind Manchester City. It never came, confirming Mourinho’s belief that the will to compete with Europe’s elite teams did not exist, and he was fired in December following a total collapse in ties.
United finished second behind City again last season, but instead of resting on their hands, the money were released and reinforcements were brought in.
For a combined price of more than £100 million, forward Jadon Sancho (from Borussia Dortmund) and defender Raphael Varane (from Real Madrid) have been signed. Importantly, both deals were completed before the end of July, guaranteeing that both players would be ready and available when the new season begins on August 14 at Old Trafford against Leeds United. It’s a difference from last season, when Edinson Cavani came with the season already seven games old after being a free agent for the better part of four months.
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Ironically, when Mourinho asked United to buy a new defender three years ago, Harry Maguire and Varane were at the top of his list, and next season, his successor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will be able to choose both as his first-choice center-back combination.
Varane is a statement signing after winning three Spanish championships, four Champions Leagues, and the World Cup. Once he and his family have received permits to come to Manchester, the French defender will arrive. In accordance with the UK government’s COVID-19 procedures, he will also be required to quarantine before receiving a medical examination. He’s a guy United has been after for more than a decade, and they’ve finally gotten their man after taking advantage of his Real Madrid contract predicament.
When Varane made it clear to the Spanish giants that he would not sign a new contract and that it was preferable to cash in this summer rather than risk losing him for free in a year, they attempted to negotiate with PSG and Chelsea, but sources told ESPN that he was only interested in speaking with United. During a family vacation, Woodward maintained talks with Real Madrid, while new football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher, both hired in March, met with Varane to persuade him to join United. Varane was reportedly persuaded by Fletcher, and a basic price of €39.8 million (£34 million) plus add-ons offers a fair contract for a 28-year-old at the height of his career, according to ESPN.
Last season, Solskjaer’s side had the second-highest scorers in the league, but they only had the fifth-best defensive record, which Varane — who is fast, powerful in the air, and excellent on the ball — is expected to help improve. After having difficulties defending corners and free kicks last season, Solskjaer has hired Eric Ramsey as the club’s first dedicated set-piece coach.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s primary acquisition this summer was Jadon Sancho. Manchester United/Ash Donelon/Getty Images
Woodward had fears a few weeks ago that Varane was exploiting United’s interest to scare Real Madrid into giving him a big new contract, but there were none with Sancho. Solskjaer had wanted to complete the transfer last summer, but Woodward and chief negotiator Matt Judge think their patience has paid off, having reduced Borussia Dortmund’s value from €120 million to €85 million in a year.
United lost approximately £150 million during the coronavirus epidemic, according to ESPN sources, but they refer to their ability to acquire Sancho and Varane during a window when a lot of elite clubs are reliant on free transfers as evidence that their financial strategy works.
However, two high-profile additions will not be enough to quell the anti-Glazer riots that erupted at the conclusion of last season, forcing the game against Liverpool to be postponed. They will, however, put further pressure on Solskjaer.
The Norwegian, who was recently awarded a new three-year contract, has presided over two-and-a-half years of relative improvement, but skeptics will persist as long as there is no silverware to show for it. United will be expected to strongly fight Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea for the championship and make substantial progress in the Champions League even if no further players come before the transfer deadline on August 31.
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Any further additions to the team will be contingent on players departing. Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, and Diogo Dalot all spent time on loan last season, and their futures remain uncertain. Pereira, who scored an incredible volley in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Brentford, may return to Lazio on loan, but sources tell ESPN that the Brazilian thinks it’s time for him to go permanently. Fenerbahce, a Turkish club, is interested.
Paul Pogba’s contract is also a source of worry for Woodward, who must decide whether to accept offers in the last weeks of the window or risk losing an exceptional player for free next summer. United is losing faith that he would sign a new contract, and Paris Saint-Germain is hovering, despite no direct communication between the two teams. Judge has already spoken with agents for possible successors Eduardo Camavinga, Ruben Neves, and Saul Niguez, according to ESPN sources.
Solskjaer and the recruiting department prioritized a winger, centre-back, central midfielder, and right-back in that order on their list of objectives. There is still interest in Kieran Trippier, but Atletico Madrid has shown no sign of lowering their £43 million asking price. Meanwhile, preparations are on to make a significant investment in a striker ahead of the 2022-23 season, with the hope that both Harry Kane and Erling Haaland will still be available.
According to ESPN, there’s a good chance Sancho and Varane will be the only big acquisitions this summer. That, however, will be enough to instill confidence in the Old Trafford faithful that this team is capable of earning United their first league championship since 2013. New additions will give the team new optimism, but they will also put more pressure on Solskjaer. He can only hope that his squad can live up to the high expectations that a great summer has raised.
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