Manchester United can’t underestimate the enormity of the task they face at the end of the season, as they enter another pivotal summer that will shape the next few years of the club. Mind you, we’ve been saying that every year for almost a decade now.
Ralf Rangnick grabbed the headlines earlier this week by suggesting as many as 10 new players might be needed this summer — a recruitment challenge some supporters would even find difficult to execute on videogames.
United are in need of new faces as the squad stands at the moment, never mind when six players leave for free upon expiration of their contracts this season. Plus, another few will push for permanent exits in order to rejuvenate their careers.
READ MORE: Erik ten Hag must get rid of 15 Manchester United players in summer transfer window
Overhauling their squad to such a degree will be a huge test of skill for United’s transfer committee, and given the time restraints, they will need to move on from their previous ‘one at a time’ approach, which saw them focus on completing a single deal before moving on to the next.
Another key issue for United will simply be buying enough players for their budget. Funds could be boosted by the sale of a number of fringe players this summer, and the wage budget will be healthy when high-earners like Paul Pogba leave for free, but it is still a huge ask to sign a batch of new players without a bottomless pit of money.
One report this week suggested incoming boss Erik ten Hag could be backed with as much as £200million in his first window, though the club have never spent more than £150m on permanent signings across a single transfer window.
Even if the budget is close to the £200m mark, it will be a really tough ask to make it stretch to all of the areas that need addressing. If Rangnick’s aim for 10 new signings is green-lit by the club, then they have an average of £20m to spend on each player, though it would certainly make sense to buy five players of a higher quality in the region of £40m each instead.
It seems certain some areas of the pitch will need to be neglected this summer, though. Signing at least one midfielder is the priority, but with Pogba leaving, the club are hoping to sign two.
Rangnick has already recommended the club sign a young forward to help replace the departing Edinson Cavani and there is also a wish to add a right-sided forward to balance United’s attacking options.
United are also keen on the addition of a new centre-back, with Villarreal’s Pau Torres of interest, while there were exploratory talks with Antonio Rudiger’s representatives about a move. If possible, they would also sign a new versatile full-back given their doubts about almost every one currently at the club.
Ten Hag might also need to target a new goalkeeper, with one of Dean Henderson or David de Gea seeming certain to leave this summer. United have long been aware the current keeping dynamic is unsustainable and, depending on which shot-stopper the new manager backs, the other will surely look to leave in order to play regular football.
The need to buy so many players also has to cast doubt on United’s ability to sign a world-class talent this summer, given top targets such as Declan Rice and Harry Kane would require a huge amount of their transfer budget to sign. The England internationals represent the dream additions in their respective positions, but both would cost nine-figure sums, and could be further outpriced if their respective clubs qualify for the Champions League.
Instead, United might well need to supplement their summer spending by trying to find internal solutions at the club that could have the same impact as a new signing. Donny van de Beek could play an integral role under Ten Hag while promising youngsters such as Hannibal Mejbri, Alejandro Garnacho and Alvaro Fernandez could all earn promotions to help replace some of the fringe players who will leave.
United might need another 10 players this summer, but it is far easier said than done.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.