Five key Man Utd transfer questions which have already been answered this season

We look back at the main concerns following the summer transfer window, and whether they still remain issues for Manchester United.
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Manchester United ended the summer transfer window with six new recruits: Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Antony and Martin Dubravka (loan).

Yet it was a turbulent summer for the club following the Cristiano Ronaldo saga, the sluggish approach to recruitment and the difficult start to the 2022/23 campaign. Even after the deadline passed, there were real questions about how balanced Erik ten Hag’s squad was and whether it was equipped to challenge for a top-four spot.

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Over three months on, United’s performances have answered several of those questions. Ten Hag now has a much clearer idea of which areas he needs to strengthen in January and, ahead of the window opening, we look back at five key dilemmas from the summer window and where United currently stand.

Is right-back a priority?

United wanted to bring in an additional right-back over the summer and were willing to allow Aaron Wan-Bissaka to leave. At the time, there were concerns about Diogo Dalot’s suitability in that role, but Ten Hag deemed a holding midfielder and winger as more pressing problems to address.

That decision has been more than justified given the form of the Portugal international, who has missed just one game all season for United. The 23-year-old put together a fine run of form in the early part of the campaign, his best sequence since joining the Red Devils in 2018. Dalot brought the same level to the international stage and ousted Joao Cancelo as first-choice right-back for Portugal during the World Cup.

That said, the right side of defence remains a worry for United. Ten Hag doesn’t appear to be a fan of Wan-Bissaka, who has had his fitness concerns this season, while Brandon Williams also struggled with injuries. Recalling Ethan Laird from Queens Park Rangers is a possibility in January, although it may be best for the youngster’s development to remain on loan in the Championship.

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United’s lack of options in this position have seen Victor Lindelof and Malacia fill in at right-back this season, and while Dalot’s performances have eased some of the pressure, adding back-up in this role is still needed.

Do United need McTominay and Fred?

Scott McTominay and Fred have been a staple of the United midfield for years, with mixed results in that period. Last season showed their inability to collectively shield a back four and Casemiro has outshone both since his arrival from Real Madrid.

His partnership with Eriksen also reduced McTominay and Fred’s game time over October and November. The pair do provide battling, energetic qualities in the middle, but both are now deemed as back-ups under Ten Hag.

Is there still a need for Fred and Scott McTominay at United? Credit: Getty.Is there still a need for Fred and Scott McTominay at United? Credit: Getty.
Is there still a need for Fred and Scott McTominay at United? Credit: Getty.

Given how similar their styles and strengths are, United don’t need to retain the services of the two midfielders, and swapping one for a more technical upgrade could be in the club’s best interest.

Is Frenkie de Jong needed?

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De Jong dominated last summer’s transfer reports, with United chasing the Barcelona star for several months. When a deal did not materialise, there was alarm at how balanced Ten Hag’s midfield would look without their no.1 transfer target.

Yet the form of Casemiro and Eriksen has negated those worries, meaning De Jong’s acquisition is less of a priority than it was during the early weeks of Ten Hag’s reign at Old Trafford. Not to say United would turn down a transfer if the opportunity were to arise, but they’re unlikely to break the bank in order to secure the Dutchman’s services.

Is Donny van de Beek cut out for the Premier League?

Most United supporters could have answered this question last summer: No.

It was hoped Donny van de Beek’s previous relationship with Ten Hag would resurrect his dwindling United career, but that simply hasn’t been the case. Van de Beek has been just as ineffective in matches this season, albeit his 2022/23 campaign has been impacted by injury.

Van de Beek has continued to underwhelm this season. Credit: Getty.Van de Beek has continued to underwhelm this season. Credit: Getty.
Van de Beek has continued to underwhelm this season. Credit: Getty.
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United’s No.34 started in three consecutive November matches against Real Sociedad and then in a double header with Aston Villa, and was replaced around the hour mark in all three, with Ten Hag facing awkward questions in post-match press conferences about Van de Beek’s impact. The 25-year-old was anonymous, failed to produce any moments of quality and was too safe with his passing.

It’s a transfer that simply hasn’t worked and it’s in everyone’s best interests if the midfielder moves on. Whether that takes place in January is another matter, however, and the scarcity of options in an attacking midfield role may give Van de Beek a stay of execution. He remains the only natural back-up for Bruno Fernandes, with McTominay and Fred at times being deployed in a more offensive role when the Portugal international has been absent.

Do United need a new striker?

United ended the summer window with Anthony Martial and Ronaldo as the only options for a starting berth up top, although Marcus Rashford has filled in on occasion. Ronaldo’s departure only amplifies the need for greater depth in that role, while Martial’s injury record will be a huge concern for Ten Hag heading into the second part of the season.

The United manager has already acknowledged he needs to sign another centre-forward, although January is not the ideal window in which to complete significant transfers. Finding a quality option at an affordable price may prove to be a stumbling block for the Red Devils should they opt to make a mid-season move, with the likes of  Joao Felix, Cody Gakpo, Goncalo Ramos and Memphis Depay linked.

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