The 2020-21 Premier League season saw Manchester United improving and closing the gap to the champions to 12 points, from the 33 points in the previous season. The Red Devils were undefeated away from home in the league, but their home form in the Premier League wasn’t good, while they were also unceremoniously knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League.
The Red Devils also suffered a shock penalty shootout loss to Villareal in the Europa League final which has raised serious doubts regarding this current side’s ability to win trophies.
There were certainly improvements in the season, but they are still some way away from announcing themselves as serious contenders for the Premier League title.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to add a few star names to his squad ahead of next season if they want to challenge Manchester City, as well as compete in Europe.
Let’s take a look at 3 players Manchester United should target for a title challenge next season.
One transfer that is very likely to materialise is Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho moving to Manchester United. The Red Devils were keen on signing the Englishman last season but the club baulked at the transfer fee set by the German club. But reports have suggested that Dortmund could settle for a fee of around €100 million (£86 million), which could be a reasonable outlay for the Red Devils.
Sancho has had yet another sensational season for the German club, which shows that last season’s displays were not a flash in the pan. The signing of the youngster would solve the right-sided problem that United have, as they don’t possess a natural high-quality right-winger. Sancho has flair, composure, and has contributed heavily with goals and assists, having scored 50 goals and provided 65 assists in 137 games.
At 21 years of age, Sancho could be a cornerstone of the club for years.
United, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, are keen on playing out from the back, which is why they signed a ball-playing defender in Harry Maguire. But the Red Devils don’t have midfielders who can bring it out from the back and pass the ball, or control the tempo of the game.
Fred and Scott McTominay, who have played as the two central midfielders under Solskjaer, don’t have the ability to keep hold of the ball, bring it out from the back, or play defence-splitting passes into the final third.
A player like Wolves’ Ruben Neves would be a good fit in the United midfield. The Portuguese ace is a superb passer of the ball – long and short, is a tenacious and combative player, and can score from outside the box as well. He averaged 5.3 long balls per game in the 2020-21 Premier League season, took an average of 1.9 shots on goal per game, and made 2.4 tackles per game.
The 24-year-old has been a key figure in Wolves’ success over the last few years, has Premier League experience and is a Portuguese international, and would be a good fit in the Manchester United side.
Jules Kounde or Raphael Varane
Another key area that Manchester United have to strengthen is at the back. The Red Devils need to buy a central defender to play alongside Harry Maguire, a player who is quick, which is a weakness of the England international.
There have been various rumours that Real Madrid’s star defender Raphael Varane could leave the club. If the French international is on the market, Manchester United have to make a move for him. The World Cup-winning defender has an incredible resume, having won everything with Real Madrid and also the recipient of the biggest prize in football with France. He is a player who is quick, has good ball-playing abilities, and is a leader.
Another Frenchman that United could target is Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, who could be the “next big thing”. The 22-year-old is a player that is quick, likes to win the ball back by moving up the pitch, and can initiate attacks with his passing. Kounde is a hard-working player who shows determination and tenacity at the back, which is something that has been missing at the back for United at times.