Manchester United’s January transfer window: the players Ralf Rangnick should buy and sell next month
Ralf Rangnick’s first transfer window as Manchester United manager could allow for several squad changes next month - we assess his options.
Paul Pogba. Credit: Getty.
Manchester United have had an interesting season so far to say the least.
The Red Devils are fighting with several other clubs for a top four spot and after poor performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Norwegian was dismissed in November.
The club took an equally compelling approach to their next managerial appointment, with first an interim coach until the end of the campaign, before a permanent boss will be given the reins in the summer.
Ralf Rangnick was chosen to guide United in the right direction until at least the end of the season, with the 63-year-old known for his pressing style of play.
Last summer saw the Red Devils splash a combined £133.8million with add-ons, on Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, reuniting the latter with the Old Trafford faithful after 12 years away.
However, with United striving to return to their former glory, more money being spent in the January transfer window can’t be ruled out, especially if an individual suits Rangnick’s style of play.
Incomings: who should United sign?
The biggest problem the Red Devils faced under Solskjaer was their lack of defensive organisation. This led to numerous criticism from fans and pundits, specifically after the club’s defeats to Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford.
However, with Rangnick’s more assertive approach to how the game should be played and United only conceding one goal under the German, attention turns to the other end of the pitch.
The Red Devils aren’t short of options up top, but with only Ronaldo hitting double figures so far this campaign, and Anthony Martial apparently wanting to leave next month, if United want to finish in a Champions League place come May, they’ll need to find an ideal partner for the Portuguese international.
Now you could argue that Mason Greenwood should be given more opportunity alongside football’s all-time leading goalscorer, and you’d be right, however, a proven striker, to add competition for places, would better suit the club currently.
Chelsea’s Timo Werner is being rumoured as a potential signing under Rangnick, with the pair working together at RB Leipzig. The forward has 17 goals in 66 appearances in all competitions for the Blues, assisting his teammates on 19 occasions.
To add to this, the central-midfield pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay can’t be expected to play every game. Rotation is needed and with Paul Pogba’s contract coming to an end this summer, along with Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata both being 33, it could make sense to explore options.
Amadou Haidara is a former player of Rangnick, having worked under the 63-year-old at RB Leipzig, and would make for a brilliant addition to the Red Devils’ midfield.
Another option is Boubacar Kamara. The 22-year-old currently plays his trade for Marseille and reportedly wants to leave the club when his contract expires in the summer. A cut-price deal for the midfielder could suit United.
Outgoings: who should United sell or offer on loan and who is out of contract soon?
If the Red Devils’ replicate the money generated from their summer departures, they will be in a significant loss come the end of the financial year.
However, with several names linked with leaving the club next month, if rumours are true, the books will look slightly better.
Six senior players are also out of contract in the summer, most notably Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani, so cashing in on a few of them now would make sense.
As mentioned above, and expressed by his agent, Martial is one name who is actively looking to leave United in January. The Frenchman has been under par this campaign, only netting once.
His versatility will hopefully put him in good stead with any potential buyer, given he can play on either wing or as a striker.
Selling the forward would best suit the Red Devils, allowing for him to play regularly elsewhere.
Another name linked with a move away from United is Dean Henderson. However, unlike Martial, the shot-stopper isn’t expected to leave the club permanently, instead spending the remainder of the season out on loan.
A spell away from Old Trafford is nothing new for Henderson, with the 24-year-old most recently temporarily between the sticks for Sheffield United during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.
The Englishman is said to have numerous clubs interested in him, including Dutch outfit Ajax and Premier League strugglers Newcastle United.
Game-time is crucial for Henderson if he wants to secure a place in Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad next year, so the likelihood of this happening is quite high.
There are several reasons as to why the Red Devils should cash in on Jesse Lingard, and his contract expiring in the summer isn’t just one of them.
The 29-year-old hasn’t lived up to the hype that Sir Alex Ferguson placed on him once he retired from being the club’s manager. In over 220 appearances for United, Lingard has only scored 35 goals - not the expected return for a promising number 10.
His career has seen him spend time away from Old Trafford with loans at Leicester, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County and most recently West Ham.
The latter revolutionised the midfielder, seeing him net nine times in 16 games for the Hammers - form that excited United fans for his return this summer.
However, despite two goals this season, the 29-year-old has shown that his time with West Ham should’ve been a permanent move to London - an option hopefully still on the cards next month.
Paul Pogba’s second tenure at the Red Devils has been an interesting one. Despite winning silverware and showing why he is considered one of the world’s best centre-midfielders on his day, his consistency and attitude towards other players and former managers has overruled all.
The Frenchman is talented and has shown on numerous occasions he can find the back of the net. However, with his contract up at the end of the season, now is time for United to offload the 28-year-old.
Selling Pogba in January would free up wages and mean the club won’t miss out on a fee - as little as it could be.
A return to Juventus could be an option, or a move to Paris Saint-Germain might also be on the cards, as well as supposed interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona.