Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will only be able to buy a holding midfielder this summer if he raises the funds himself by selling players.
Despite Manchester United’s determination to sign £77 million right winger Jadon Sancho and £40 – £50 million centre-back Raphael Varane, many fans and pundits believe that the holding midfield role is the one most desperately in need of strengthening.
And yet The Telegraph’s James Ducker reports that it is unlikely that the club will make money available for this crucial signing.
‘Although Joel Glazer, United’s co-chairman, insisted this month that there would be “meaningful” investment in the squad, the club’s finances have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis,’ Ducker explains.
‘Solskjaer would also like a defensive midfielder but United may have to substantially trim the wage bill and sell well for the manager to be able to recruit one.’
Those believing that a centre-back partner for Harry Maguire is more important than a defensive midfielder clearly include Solskjaer and the recruitment team.
Yet it seems ironic that if Victor Lindelof were not already a Manchester United player, his performances at Euro 2020 so far would have probably put him top of the list. For many, the Swede has been one of the best defenders of the tournament so far.
Team of the second round of the group stage (3-5-2):
— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) June 20, 2021
United also have backup in the form of Eric Bailly, who is world class on his day, and the supremely talented Axel Tuanzebe, with the excellent prospects of Teden Mengi and Will Fish coming through as well.
Yet the only specialist holding midfielder in United’s squad is the aging Nemanja Matic, who Solskjaer does not choose to start many games.
This leaves the Red Devils forced to play a twin pivot of Scott McTominay and Fred, neither of whom are natural in the position and so who are both needed to cover the work that one world class CDM could do.
This in turn leaves United having to do without one more attacking midfielder or forward and restricts the formations that the side can adopt.
United may well have been given a ‘hands off’ warning from West Ham in regard to their reported first choice for the role, Declan Rice, but there are other superb options that will pass the Red Devils by if the club’s owners are not allocating funds for the position.
Another stand out performer in Euro 2020, Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli, is set to join Juventus for around £34 million and Arsenal are reportedly closing in on Wolves’ Ruben Neves for a similar amount.
Of course, with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and Diogo Dalot all reportedly up for sale, United may be able to raise sufficient funds. But it should not be necessary and at the current rate of investment, United will continue to fall further behind neighbours Manchester City.