Who do Manchester United need to sign to challenge for the title next season?

Louis van Gaal’s tactical revolution at Manchester United has all but confirmed a Champions League spot for next season. The build-up to next season in all but underway and United are ready to splash the cash once again to give van Gaal the best chance for success in Europe and in the Premier League in 2016.

Let’s analyze the critical parts where he will have to strengthen his squad:

Defence

At right back, United most definitely will go in for Nathaniel Clyne to alternate with Antonio Valencia. Rafael’s future looks bleak at best. At right center back, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are establishing themselves but neither is a defensive leader, the rock at the back that United need. Matts Hummels is a target and so if Fabian Schaar. A center back and a right back are definitely needed to shore up the back line that has not given David de Gea the world class protection that he deserves.

Both Hummels and Schaar are erudite readers of the game and are confident in playing the ball out from the back, something that van Gaal demands of his center backs. Clyne is as solid a right back as England has ever produced and he can control the flank on his own, his powerful attacking runs balanced by his strength in the tackle and aerial prowess.

Schaar Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbtNixrHlFE

Midfield

Ilkay Gundogan’s name has been mentioned recently and at 21 million pounds, he will be a truly valuable addition to the squad. Able to play box-to-box or defensive midfield, he can alternate with Herrera or Carrick. His all-round game is impeccable and a midfield three of Carrick-Herrera-Gundogan will be a joy to watch, all three intelligent footballers able to unlock defenses at ease.

Kevin Strootman, the unlucky Dutch midfield general has not proven his fitness after knee surgery recurrence and van Gaal might not be willing to take a risk on his prodigy. Paul Pogba also seems to be a target and his signing, if it happens, will all but ensure that United will be looked upon with fear again. The Frenchman is a monumental all-round talent the likes of which come around once in a generation.

Memphis Depay, the electric Dutch winger and another of van Gaal’s products will most definitely sign and he will give the crowds what they love – a powerful winger willing to beat his man and cause mayhem down his flank. His strengths include shooting, tricky wing play, crossing and most importantly he will fit right into van Gaal’s Dutch philosophy. He reminds us of a young Cristiano Ronaldo and it will be great to see him mature into one of the world’s finest.

Depay 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTfYhKCBLLI

Speaking of wingers, di Maria has hardly been able to break into the team of late and his is a tricky situation. A proven world class player will not be content playing second fiddle to Ashley Young. Depay’s arrival also complicates di Maria’s position at the club.

Forward

Wayne Rooney is shouldering the goal scoring burden of late and there seems to be no future at the club for Radamel Falcao. Robin van Perise cannot be sure of his stay at the club but could become third choice next season should he continue. James Wilson is a genuine option to alternate with Rooney but he is atleast two years away from being a 20-goal-a-season striker.

Javier Hernandez too will look elsewhere to continue his career and that leaves Danny Ings, the hard working hitman from Burnley who is out of contract as one of the prime targets up front. United will do good to sign him, as he is an old-fashioned number 9, capable of holding the ball and willing to run the channels all day long. He is only 22 and is still a long way from being the world beater that United need him to be.

The most important signing that Ed Woodward can make is of course, extending David de Gea’s contract. If however, the Spaniard decides to leave for the Bernabeau, it won’t be the great loss that many fear it to be. United as a club have moved on from selling great players. If the situation arises to sell de Gea, a replacement will be found and the club will endure.

 

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