Manchester United have been in an impressive run of form since the end of January and look well placed to secure a Champions League spot at the end of the season.
This resurgence has coincided with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, but the loopholes in the current playing eleven have time and again come out on the open.
The FA Cup quarter-final win against Norwich City was one of the prime examples of that. It would, therefore, not be unusual for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to look at investing in his squad come this summer.
However, the upcoming summer transfer market isn’t in any way going to be similar to those the fans have got accustomed to seeing.
The effects of the pandemic are being deeply felt and most clubs will find their hands tied while trying to spend on strengthening their squads.
Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward has already made things clear to the fans, telling them not to expect much in terms of transfer spending this summer.
However, that doesn’t essentially mean that Solskjaer won’t be bringing in any player once the transfer window opens.
Here are five possible areas Manchester United should ideally look to strengthen in order to compete for silverware next season.
At present, most of the burden at the heart of the defence is being shared by the duo of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
Between them, the pair have managed as many as 87 appearances, with the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe largely being on the fringes and getting just a limited number of chances.
Chris Smalling’s future also remains in doubt with his loan-spell at Serie A outfit AS Roma coming to an end.
So the prospect of either Lindelof or Maguire getting injured at some point of time is something that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dreads. Therefore, signing a good back-up centre-back should be his priority.
According to a report in the Italian media, Manchester United have already made a move for Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar, tabling a €65 million bid for the 25-year-old Slovakian.
Monaco teenager Benoit Badiashile has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the last few days.
Relatively cheaper options for the Red Devils might be Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings and Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake.
On either side of the two central defenders, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put faith in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, with youngsters Diogo Dalot and Brendan Williams mostly serving as back-ups.
Dalot was disappointing in his only appearance since resumption against Norwich City in the FA Cup, and although Williams has been impressive, at 19, he still has years left to mature and become a first-team regular.
In the last few days, the Red Devils have jumped into pole position to secure the signature of Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, with Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City also keeping an eye on the developments.
Primarily a left-sided full-back, Chilwell might also be used by his manager on the other side of the pitch, as has been the case with young Brendan Williams.
An in-depth analysis of Manchester United’s approach in the last few games reveals that in spite of going with a two-man midfield, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has allowed Paul Pogba a free role to provide assistance in attack, while Nemanja Matic has operated largely as a deep-lying midfielder.
At 31, the Serbian is nearing the end of his career and might well be beyond his prime. Although Matic recently signed a new three-year contract, Solskjaer should look to find a long-term replacement for the veteran.
According to reports, the Manchester giants have opened discussions with Bayern Munich for midfielder Corentin Tolisso, who might be available for a price in the region of €35 million.
There have also been suggestions that Manchester United might go for Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish, with the Villains likely to play in the Championship next season.
The most talked about area of investment for Manchester United has been the wings. In spite of the team’s recent show of strength offensively, the general idea is that the addition of a proper winger will be beneficial in the longer run.
There is no proprt winger in the current Manchester United team who can warrant a place in the playing eleven week-in, week-out.
Daniel James, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and even Mason Greenwood have all been deployed in different capacities to play down the wings – sometimes becoming a part of a three-man attacking set-up.
The addition of someone like Jadon Sancho would not only add pace and stability to the Manchester United attacking line-up, but it would also help them be more competitive in European competitions.
Former Manchester United midfielder, Robbie Savage said in a recent interview that he would go for someone like Harry Kane or Sancho to send other teams a strong message.
“I would go for Sancho or Kane, which would send a signal to the rest of the Premier League: United are back in business.”
However, concluding a deal for the Borussia Dortmund man isn’t going to be easy, with the German giants holding on to their £116m valuation of the player.
BVB’s sporting director, Michael Zorc said in a recent interview:
“Jadon has a valid contract with us and we would be very happy if he is still with us next season. To think about anything else at all, the timing would have to be right, and secondly, our price expectations would have to be met 100 percent.”
If Manchester United fail in their attempt to lure Sancho from Dortmund, they could get a replacement in the form of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, who has often been a one-man show for Dean Smith’s side this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been vocal about having competition up front, to send a signal to the trio of Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.
Reflecting on his tenure as a player at Old Trafford, the former Molde boss said:
“You need competition for places at Man United. If you think you’ve got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we’re not going to look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place.
“I’ve been here myself for so many years as a striker and Teddy Sheringham comes in, Dwight Yorke comes in, Ruud van Nistelrooy comes in, Wayne Rooney comes in.”
The manager’s statement suggests that Manchester United might sign a striker to keep Martial, Greenwood and Rashford on their toes.
Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez has been linked with a move to Manchester United, with the player himself insisting that such claims help give recognition to the good work he has been doing.
“It’s an incredible thing to be on the radar, and on the lips of those teams. It’s something good to continue growing, making an effort and taking it as an incentive so that, if possible, give even more to achieve it.”
Lyon striker Moussa Dembele has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford, but recent reports suggest that the club have cooled their interest in the wake of Greenwood’s rise in stature.
With the resurgence of Manchester United’s bitter rivals Liverpool of late, the Red Devils need to show their fans that they mean business.
Patience has been running out and time has probably come for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to come out of his rookie self and show more maturity as a manager, and the first step towards it will be his transfer dealings in a relatively difficult market.
How will the Norwegian fare? Only time will tell.
Also Read: Is Solskjaer the man to bring the 21st league title to Manchester United?