The winter window at Man Utd might not be what you expect, with a report revealing five potential deals are set to dominate the club’s thinking after the World Cup.
Erik ten Hag’s first window at the Manchester United helm was never likely to be a dull one. The Red Devils ultimately forked out over £200m and despite claims they repeatedly overpaid, many of their signings already look inspired additions.
Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in particular have made big impacts. Tyrell Malacia is pushing Luke Shaw hard for minutes at left-back, while Antony already has three league goals from his first six outings.
Several positions did go unaddressed however, such as centre-forward and right-back.
If the future of Cristiano Ronaldo lays away from Old Trafford, Man Utd simply must sign a new striker.
Elsewhere, Ten Hag is known to seek an attacking upgrade at right-back to compete with Diogo Dalot.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong and Denzel Dumfries of Inter Milan are both on the club’s radar, and any addition would spell trouble for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, five deals of a very different nature are on the menu at Old Trafford this winter.
Contract extensions take precedence
Firstly, the outlet acknowledge a new right-back and striker are part of the longer-term plans. A centre-forward is deemed United’s ‘priority position’ in 2023, though one might not be signed until the summer.
That’s because the bulk of their dealings through the winter will revolve around those already at the club, specifically the players who can become free agents in 2023 but have one-year extension options.
Five such players fit that bill, with United holding options to extend their stays by an extra 12 months. The quintet are David de Dea, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw, Fred and Marcus Rashford.
Those stars will be the centre of attention in Manchester after the World Cup, rather than new arrivals in January.
The report adds the ‘second phase’ of the squad’s rebuild will likely have to wait until next summer. At that stage, and given United worked wonders in the last window, fewer signings are expected compared with Ten Hag’s first window.
However, there is a positive to that statement. If United only need to sign two players at right-back and striker, for example, it means they can spend big in both departments rather than spreading their resources thinly over more areas.
Which deals will Man Utd trigger?
There appears little sense in not taking up the options of Dalot, Shaw and Rashford. All three are regular starters, with Shaw recently regaining his place after Malacia got the nod earlier in the campaign.
Activating the one-year extensions would protect the club’s investments, though longer-term deals are expected for all three.
One former United title winner reckons Rashford could go on to become “one of the best players in the world”. The 25-year-old recently notched his 100th goal for the club and opened up on why he’s performing so much better this season compared to last.
The futures of De Gea and Fred appear far less certain.
Ten Hag is known to want a goalkeeper who is more comfortable with his feet. The Athletic claimed Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon and FC Porto’s Diogo Costa are on the club’s radar.
Fred, meanwhile, has overcome vehement criticism to become a dependable performer when called upon. His problem is that Casemiro and Eriksen’s arrivals have resulted in his minutes being slashed.
United also have Scott McTominay to call upon in the double pivot, meaning Fred’s minutes have been restricted to just 393 in the league this year.
Only four starts have been forthcoming and the Brazilian hasn’t made it past the hour mark in two of them.
The Telegraph previously claimed Ten Hag wants a firmer approach taken to Man Utd contracts having felt they’ve been too easily dished out in previous regimes.
Fred and potentially De Gea may be early casualties of a new, iron fist approach.
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