By Tom McDermott | | 5 mins
Time Running Out On Man Utd Signing Two Key Transfer Targets
While few supporters are getting carried away, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United have made a good start to pre-season, with a 2-0 win over Perth Glory in Australia, followed by a 4-0 victory on Wednesday against old rivals Leeds United.
On Friday, the squad landed in Singapore ahead of the weekend game against Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan, and they’ll then travel to Shanghai for Thursday’s other showpiece friendly against Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur.
With only three weeks left until the close of the summer transfer window though, there’s still plenty left for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the recruitment team to do if they are to build a squad capable of helping Solskjaer challenge for a place in the top four.
So what might happen between now and the second week of August?
Well, it doesn’t take much for a player to be linked with the red half of Manchester, just ask Sean Longstaff, but two other names refuse to go away, and as we approach the transfer window home straight, it’s vital for Solskjaer’s future at the club that at least one of his targets arrives.
Harry Maguire Odds-On To Move
Harry Maguire – currently 1/7 (-700) for an Old Trafford move with William Hill – is a very good central defender, but he isn’t a great one.
Kieran Trippier, a member of the same England World Cup team that reached the semi-finals of the tournament last year, this week moved to Atletico Madrid for just over £20milllion.
It makes the reported figure of £80million that Leicester City want for Maguire sound quite ridiculous.
In fact, it sounds worse if you compare it to the £67.5m Juventus have just paid Ajax for their captain Matthijs de Ligt.
United are confident that a deal will be done with Leicester City before the window closes, but it’s not as near as some have suggested.
Solskjaer in Singapore on transfers:— Tom McDermott (@MrTomMcDermott) July 19, 2019
Club working on one or two, but his focus he says, is getting ready for the games. #MUFC
Woodward will wait, if necessary, for the latter stages of the window as he has done before, most notably when Marouane Fellaini joined from Everton.
Maguire is an imposing figure who is capable of playing out comfortably from defence with the ball at his feet, and is excellent in the air, which means he’s a huge asset in both penalty areas. You can see why Solskjaer is interested.
But question marks do remain over his positional sense and how he copes in one versus one situations.
A new-look United defence of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Maguire and Luke Shaw certainly looks solid, but the cheaper and more experienced option of Toby Alderweireld from Tottenham might have been the better choice.
The Belgian central defender has a buyout clause of £25million, which means Solskjaer would have plenty of change for another midfielder or forward. Such a move looks increasingly unlikely though, with some bookies quoting 10/1 (+1000) on United signing him this summer.
Wissam Ben Yedder a Target
Romelu Lukaku is 1/6 (-600) to move to Inter Milan before the window shuts and Solskjaer has already stated that the striker will need replacing if he’s sold.
And he’s quite right. Can he really afford to rely on Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, the out of sorts Alexis Sanchez and wildcard Mason Greenwood for the whole season? It’s a huge ask.
? Marcus Rashford has shortened from 12/1 into 8/1 to score 20+ #PremierLeague goals this campaign after a flying start to pre-season— Bookies UK (@bookies_uk) July 18, 2019
⚽️ He's also now 33/1 to be #EPL top scorer
? https://t.co/dPkg03wU7D #MUFC #ManUtd #Rashford pic.twitter.com/wsv1v6UIg2
One name that’s been repeatedly linked is Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder, and the player has already let it be known that he would be open to a move to Manchester – a signing Paddy Power give a 6/4 (+150) chance of happening.
United fans know all about the Frenchman after his double at Old Trafford in 2018 knocked United out of the Champions League at the last 16 stage.
With 18 goals in 31 La Liga starts last term too, he could be the type of penalty box finisher United will require in the tighter matches.
Solskjaer has already admitted that it will be difficult for his side to play the high pressing game he wants over the course of the whole season, which means he’ll need something new, and a different kind of attacking threat against particular opponents.
Ben Yedder ticks all the boxes, is experienced enough and knowledgeable to fit into more than one attacking role, and for £36million could be a deal United might force through quickly once Lukaku’s likely departure is confirmed.
Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a sensational move up the M1 to United in the last few days but at 7/4 (+175) Arsenal are unlikely to allow the golden boot winner to follow the same path as Robin van Persie in 2012, despite their desperate need for money so as to fund a move for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.