Although the World Cup will take centre stage throughout the summer, clubs will be working hard to have deals in place ready for next season. The transfer window is such an important facet to football now and Jose Mourinho will have his eyes scattered across Europe when assessing who next to bring in.
Deals have already been concluded for Fred, who is currently with Brazil in Russia and awaiting confirmation of his work permit, and formerly Porto’s 19-year-old right-back, Diogo Dalot. Both will bring much-needed reinforcement to midfield and at full-back, but Manchester United still need quality in other areas of the pitch.
Here are three targets Mourinho should seriously consider:
Clement Lenglet – £1.21 – Sevilla
The 22-year-old centre-half is one of Europe’s brightest prospects, having made the move from AS Nancy to Sevilla 18 months ago. While he has not made the France World Cup squad, he is very highly-rated and his time will come in a Les Bleus shirt later on in his career.
The French-born defender featured over 50 times in all competitions for Sevilla last season, with scouts consistently watching him home and away from Europe’s big five leagues. A typical French defender, Clement Lenglet combines his authority in the air and in the challenge with the Spanish way of playing football: out from the back.
Lenglet is incredibly composed on the ball and has a good passing range on him. While he prefers the shorter passes into feet, he can also go longer and into the channels for his forward players to run on to.
With Mourinho eagerly searching for another centre-back, Lenglet could well be the future of Man United’s defence alongside Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof. With the Frenchman’s buyout clause set at £30.5 million, the centre-back could be one of the biggest bargains in 2018.
However, if United are to be successful in their pursuit for him, they will need to offer him assurances and a project that trumps that of Barcelona. It is said that the Catalan club are exploring the possibility of bringing him to play alongside Samuel Umtiti once Gerard Pique takes a backseat role.
Lenglet would be a huge upgrade on most of Man United’s centre-halves, but they will need to act quickly and efficiently if they are to secure his services. The defender from Beauvais has assured fans he will have his future sorted out by 30 June.
Alex Sandro – £1.73 – Juventus
It has been apparent for some time now that Man United are in desperate need of signing a left-back to take over from Ashley Young. With Luke Shaw’s future hanging in the balance and barely showing any consistency throughout last season, Mourinho has to bring in a ready-made player that can add width and attacking excellence to his side.
Chelsea attempted to recruit Alex Sandro last season from Juventus, but the Bianconeri stood strong and demanded around £65 million to relieve him of his contract. The Blues were never successful in that approach, but it appears the Italian giants have relaxed on the asking price somewhat and have reduced it down to around £52 million. While still at an expensive rate, any potential suitor would be purchasing one of the best left-backs in Europe.
A problem for Man United over the last few years has been their lack of width moving forward. With Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez playing on the wings, yet always looking to come inside and attack centrally, the Red Devils have found it difficult breaking teams down due to overcrowding the middle of the pitch.
Mourinho’s side has been severely lacking an expert crosser that can feed Romelu Lukaku with constant chances. Antonio Valencia on the other side rarely puts the ball into the box, and when he does, it barely beats the first man. That is why it is so important for the Portuguese boss to identify and sign a player that can provide width, defensive solidity and attacking prowess.
Sandro was making one key pass per-game last season, which was an average taken from 26 matches, compared to Young’s 0.5 key passes per game. The Englishman might have played a handful more games, but there is a clear distinction over the two players’ attacking influence.
The Brazilian, at 27-years-old, is in the prime of his career and should be added to United’s starting 11.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – £3.65 – Lazio
Man United once had his brother Vanja Milinkovic-Savic at the club back in 2014 for one season, but now they are taking an active interest in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
The six-foot-three inches Serbian midfielder has dominated Serie A this season for Lazio, making a name for himself and becoming one of his nation’s most important players in this summer’s World Cup. Milinkovic-Savic has the required physicality that Mourinho values in midfield, as well as his height, but he is also a player that can really play the beautiful game.
He might look intimidating on the pitch, but his game is based around his high level of technical skill, rather than just brute force and aerial dominance. The Lazio star has a wicked long shot on him, in which he found the back of the net on 14 occasions last season, but can also thread a ball into the forward’s path to score – as he did nine times in all competitions.
Only Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez – who have both played severely fewer minutes than Milinkovic-Savic – had recorded more key passes per game last season than the Serbian-born midfielder. Milinkovic-Savic was averaging 1.5 per-game, with the Spaniard 0.3 more and former Gunner 0.7. With those two players also being higher up the pitch, it makes it incredibly impressive that the Lazio player is influencing the game as much as he has been in the final third.
With Fred arriving in Manchester as well this summer, there might be question marks over where the Serbia international would fit in Mourinho’s three-man midfield. However, the Brazilian is likely to rotate with Nemanja Matić, his compatriot, with Paul Pogba and Milinkovic-Savic pushing further up the pitch.
There can be rotation between the Frenchman and Serbian in terms of who moves forward and who stays back to help out defensively, but Mourinho has the system to incorporate both players in the same starting team.
Lazio’s president, Claudio Lotito, has already rebuffed several teams’ approaches for his latest gem, and it is likely going to take an offer of over £90 million to prize the Serb away from Rome. Mourinho’s United certainly have those funds in reserve, but it is just about how much they value him in their midfield.
With Milinkovic-Savic’s unbelievable passing range, aerial superiority, nimble footwork and eye for goal, the Red Devils should not think twice about giving this deal the green light.
These three transfer targets and hundreds of other footballers are available to trade on Football INDEX: https://www.footballindex.co.uk/stockmarket/team