Manchester United have now gone four years without winning a trophy.
And while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is technically making progress in terms of form and consistency, the pressure will ramp up for the 2021/22 season – because Manchester United are a club that expects to win things.
United are tipped to go big in the transfer market this summer following a second place Premier League finish and Champions League qualification, with the club already spending big in an attempt to challenge on all fronts.
They finally struck a deal for long-term target Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane is on the way too – but money is tight until they can offload some deadwood.
Here’s how they could line up in 2021/22.
GK: Dean Henderson
David de Gea and Dean Henderson shared duties for most of last season, but both are said to be unhappy they are not the go-to choice. De Gea is not what he once was and doubts over whether Henderson has what it takes remain within the club.
De Gea looks set to start the season for United after Henderson contracted COVID, but Henderson is fancied to take the role long-term as it stand
United want cover at right back – Kieran Trippier, perhaps? – but it’ll only likely be someone to push £50m man Aaron Wan-Bissaka; who improved last season despite obvious deficiencies remaining in his game.
He needs to improve his defending on crosses and continue developing going forward, but United like the former Crystal Palace man, and this position should be his for a long time to come.
What a signing this will be.
United have wanted Raphael Varane for 10 years, and missed out on him to Madrid in 2011 – back when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge. But his former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed to pull this off in a deal which shouldn’t rise too far past £40m.
Experienced, quick, good in the air, smart, a winner…what more could they ask for?
United’s club captain was sorely missed after getting injured in the closing weeks of last season. But he’ll return and continue to quietly impress next season, even while he’ll get mocked for a price tag he had no control over.
Having Varane next to him might help him out too.
Last season was Luke Shaw’s best in a United shirt, and he’ll be hoping to stay injury free and continue to prove himself as one of their most important players as he enters the peak years of his career.
Wolves’ Portuguese magnifico is on the market, and he shouldn’t cost too much more than £30m.
He’d make a smart buy for United, even if he’s perhaps not the world class holding midfielder they actually need to let everybody around them flourish.
Neves could do the job though, he’s at a good price and he’s young enough to get better. Interest is there as it stands but it seems United are biding their time.
They could look elsewhere too, though. Eduardo Camavinga would be a heck of a signing, but United feel he might want to move to Spain over England, while Saul Niguez has been linked with every club in the world.
Paul Pogba’s second tenure as a Manchester United player may look like it’s coming to an end – whether that be this summer or next.
He’s out of contract in a year (with it more hoped he’ll sign a renewal rather than expected) and could end up walking away from United for nothing for the second time in his career.
PSG are interested in doing a deal now, but United might run the risk of taking that extra few months to convince Pogba they can finally deliver on their promises.
Bruno’s impact on this team has been remarkable.
United want him to sign a new deal as a reward for his form, but he’ll want to be joined by a number of new players of great quality in order to get United competing for major titles.
He’s an important part of this team’s future.
Mason Greenwood had a difficult opening few months last season, but he looks to have found his groove again and is perhaps United’s most natural finisher.
Marcus Rashford’s injury may open up an opportunity for Greenwood to hit the ground running in 2021/22 – and he’s had a full pre-season behind him too.
Let’s be honest, this one was long overdue.
United have come out of this deal smelling like roses, as they’ll have made an over £30m saving on what they’d have had to pay to bring Sancho to Old Trafford last year. £72.9m is great business.
He could well start his United career on the left side of the attack given Rashford’s injury and subsequent surgery, but long term he’s destined for the opposite flank.
While his signing looked a move of desperation for United last summer, Edinson Cavani’s move to Old Trafford has actually worked out pretty well to date.
He’s got one more year on his deal – and that’s just enough time to allow United to concentrate on strengthening other positions before buying a big-name new striker next summer.
Cavani’s experience will continue to be crucial to Greenwood’s development, and another year working together will do the teenager a world of good.