It’s been a disappointing start to this season for Manchester United. After a positive debut campaign for Erik ten Hag as manager, in which he won the Carabao Cup, made the final of the FA Cup and finished third in the Premier League, the season so far has seen the team go backwards.
United have lost five of their first 12 games in the league, have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup and look unlikely to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
There has been plenty of discussion around ten Hag’s future and whether a change of manager could improve things at United, but a lack of quality and depth in the squad is the bigger issue, which have been laid bare by the injury problems ten Hag has had to deal with this season.
This current United team seriously lacks athleticism and pace, two crucial components of a good team in modern football. With businessman Jim Ratcliffe soon set to purchase a stake in the club, United should use this opportunity to make necessary improvements to the squad.
Here are five players United should look to sign as part of a squad rebuild…
Jarrod BowenEmbed from Getty Images
It is strange that Bowen has not been linked with a move to one of the big Premier League clubs more often in the past couple of seasons given the consistency in which he has impressed. The forward has made a fine start to the season, scoring eight goals in his first 12 league games, and looks ready to make that next step in his career. United have issues out on the right wing, Bowen’s preferred position, with Jadon Sancho’s future seemingly lying elsewhere and Antony failing to contribute to the level required.
Bowen would add reliable goalscoring, pace and a fantastic work ethic to United’s right flank but the issue is that he would cost a hefty sum. West Ham would rightfully demand a huge fee for Bowen, who at 26 still might have his very best days in front of him. But a proven, high quality Premier League forward is exactly what United need and would absolutely improve the team.
Gabriel MoscardoEmbed from Getty Images
A name that more and more football fans are becoming familiar with, midfielder Gabriel Moscardo has impressed for Corinthians in his native Brazil. Still only 18, Moscardo would not be a signing that could be counted upon to make an immediate impact in the Premier League and could even benefit from a loan spell at first, but he has the raw attributes to become a top level central midfielder.
He is the kind of all action midfield player that United are lacking, and draws comparisons to Declan Rice in that he can win the ball back and then drive forward with it using his tremendous acceleration and strength to hold off opposition players. Chelsea are the latest club to be linked with Moscardo, who will probably be the subject of plenty of interest from Europe’s top clubs in the near future and United will have to be persistent if they want to bring him to the club. He would add energy and dynamism to a midfield desperately lacking it, and with Casemiro now 31 and picking up injuries more often, they need to look towards the future.
Evan FergusonEmbed from Getty Images
Evan Fergsuson is a player well known to Premier League fans by now having established himself in a very good Brighton team at just 18-years-old. Now 19, Ferguson has the tools to become a top class centre-forward with his combination of size, strength, finishing and speed. Given United already splashed out big on Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta, another promising striker, this might seem like an odd suggestion but United could certainly do with better options up top, given Anthony Martial’s injury record and disappointing form recently. The two could even play up front together in a hark back to the 4-4-2 two days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Irishman is too good a prospect and has too much potential to worry about too much competition and with the number of games teams play these days, both would get plenty of opportunity to impress anyway. United need to be buying up the best young talent, especially when they are proven in the Premier League, if they want to get back on the right track and Ferguson is certainly that.
Florian WirtzEmbed from Getty Images
Germany’s young attacking playmaker is surely destined for a big money move at some point in the near future, but to who remains to be seen. Wirtz has been in terrific form for Bayer Leverkusen this season, scoring three times and assisting five goals in 11 Bundesliga matches to help his side reach the top of the table ahead of Bayern Munich. Wirtz is a technically gifted player who has excellent close control of the ball which allows him to take players on at will and has the vision to pick out others and create good goalscoring opportunities.
United could play him in any of the attacking positions they wanted and he would add more fluidity to what has been a pretty stagnant attack this season, with ten Hag’s side scoring just 13 goals in 12 league games. He is exactly the sort of player the club is lacking at the moment, someone who can receive the ball in difficult spots but still create an opportunity or dangerous momet, and he might well be one of Europe’s next superstars if he continues on his current trajectory.
Antonio SilvaEmbed from Getty Images
Benfica youngster Antonio Silva has everything you would want in a central defender. Size, aerial strength, recovery pace, comfortability on the ball, a good range of passing and much more. The 20-year-old has made a huge impression for Benfica and is one of the most highly rated defenders in Europe for good reason. United have had serious injury problems in central defence this season which has perhaps made their problems seem worse than they are at the back but they could still do with a long-term partner for Lisandro Martinez, given Raphael Varane isn’t getting any younger and both Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans are probably not the answer.
Silva might take some developing to adjust to the Premier League but so many excellent players have managed it pretty seamlessly in recent years, such as Ruben Dias and United’s own Bruno Fernandes. They would need to spend big on Silva to get him but the price for missing out on him might be an even bigger one.