Manchester United have missed out on numerous top targets over the years, and that trend is showing no signs of stopping. The Red Devils were heavily linked with Cody Gakpo over the summer and were expected to reignite that interest in January, but Liverpool pipped them to his signature.
Erik ten Hag has made it his mission to shake up the United dressing room, bringing in several new signings over the summer and also highlighting other areas of the squad that he feels need improving upon.
However, the ex-Ajax boss must insist that his side does not keep missing out on top targets and allowing their ‘Big Six’ rivals to pounce on unfinished business. If the Red Devils were more ruthless in their transfer approach then one has to wonder whether they would have endured the recent tricky campaigns. But what would their team look like? Express Sport takes a look…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Very few goalkeepers have impressed more than David De Gea over the years, and therefore United have not approached many shot-stoppers. The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of the season, assuming that the Red Devils do not activate the one-year extension clause in his deal, so a successor will need to be lined up at some stage.
Defence: Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw
Both Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have found good form under Ten Hag this season despite reports of other fullbacks being eyed – including Sergino Dest. Lisandro Martinez also arrived this summer, amid interest from Arsenal, and has quickly made himself a fan’s favourite at Old Trafford. Alongside Raphael Varane, the Red Devils will feel that they have a backline competing at the very top level.
Midfield: Casemiro, Jude Bellingham, Moises Caicedo
United’s midfield has been a cause for concern over the past few seasons, though it is not as if the club have not attempted to add quality to their midfield. Ten Hag made it his mission to acquire midfielders over the summer, adding Christian Eriksen and Casemiro to his ranks – and the latter would retain his spot in the squad.
The Brazilian could have been playing alongside Moises Caicedo and Jude Bellingham in an alternative universe. Caicedo was in talks to join the Red Devils in 2021 but agency issues led to United walking away from the deal, with Brighton prepared to tie up the loose ends – which proved to be an excellent decision.
Borussia Dortmund also pipped United to Bellingham in 2020. The England international had travelled to the Theatre of Dreams whilst he was at Birmingham City to hold talks but decided that a move to the Bundesliga would benefit his career more.
Forwards: Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Marcus Rashford
Gakpo would certainly have slotted into United’s attack if he snubbed Liverpool earlier this month in favour of holding out for a United offer… and that would be the case for Darwin Nunez too. The Uruguay international was linked with the club over the summer but again, Jurgen Klopp’s side acted quickly to strike a deal with Benfica.
Nunez has struggled to find the back of the net consistently in the Premier League, though his potential is clear to see and many believe that he could prove to be a top striker once things fall into place for the ex-Almeria star.