Manchester United have obvious next transfer priority after midfield signing

Every man and his dog knows Manchester United need a centre-midfielder in the summer, but whas is their next biggest priority?

United have been crying out for a midfielder that can dominate games from the middle of the park for years, yet the need has repeatedly been ignored for lavish spending in other areas instead. Often unnecessarily.

It has left them with the often maligned duo of Scott McTominay and Fred as their best option as Paul Pogba doesn’t have the discipline to play in a deep role, Nemanja Matic can’t start more than once a week and Donny van de Beek never settled at Old Trafford. While both members of ‘McFred’ have had great individual moments and performances — with the Brazilian, in particular, impressing of late — they have never made for a consistent partnership.

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Thankfully, the club has now realised the error of their ways and has made a new midfielder their biggest priority ahead of the summer transfer window, with Declan Rice the top target. The West Ham talisman has all the attributes to fix United’s midfield problems but with fierce competition and a steep asking price he may be difficult to acquire.

Should United miss out then an alternative will need to be signed, with the likes of Youri Tielemens, Aurelien Tchouameni, Ruben Neves and Jude Bellingham all being strongly linked.

However, midfield is far from United’s only problem on the pitch — even if it is the biggest — and other positions are likely going to have to be strengthened in order to make them Premier League title contenders again. Especially as Edinson Cavani Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Lee Grant will all almost certainly leave in the summer when their contracts expire.

With Van de Beek, Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Martial, Dean Henderson and even Marcus Rashford all having uncertain futures, too, a lot of replacements may be needed.

MEN Sport writers have assessed what the next biggest priority should be for United after a midfielder this summer. You can see their thoughts below and tell us what you think in the comments here.

Tyrone Marshall – Right-back

You certainly couldn’t add argue if United moved straight on to signing a striker after landing a midfielder, but they’ve got another year of Cristiano Ronaldo to come and alternative options if the worst happens and he’s unavailable at any point.

There’s a bigger hole to fill when it comes to the starting XI and that’s at right-back. Aaron Wan-Bissaka just isn’t creative enough to play full-back in a team with ambitions of winning the biggest titles and it’s hard to see him fitting into an Erik ten Hag or Mauricio Pochettino team. Diogo Dalot is a reasonable backup but it still feels like a risk to have him as the first choice for a full season.

If Ten Hag lands the United job then perhaps they could sign his current right-back, Noussair Mazraoui. The Morrocan has been an impressive attacking full-back for Ajax and he’s out of contract this summer, so is available for nothing. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are linked with him, but the attraction of continuing to work with Ten Hag could be key.

Player to target: Noussair Mazraoui.

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Rich Fay – Striker

United are desperate to add a younger striker to their squad at the end of the season and with Edinson Cavani set to leave for free there will be a great need to alleviate the reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo. The long-term succession plan should be to bring in a forward this summer who can learn from the Portuguese for one season before eventually helping to replace him next year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself noted the need for a physical forward to offer a focal point in attack and once again, that should be the objective this summer so that United have a physical presence going forward.

Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is being linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is being linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Benfica forward Darwin Nunez looks to be a very promising player and has excelled this season with a staggering 26 goals from just 33 appearances across all competitions. Not only has he plundered goals in the Portuguese top-flight but he has four goals in the Champions League too, proving to be a player for the big occasion and playing a key role in their progression to the quarter-final stage.

Player to target: Darwin Nunez.

Dominic Booth – Striker

With midfield such a glaring necessity for United in the summer, the club might be forgiven for concentrating all their energy on that department and forgetting about other priorities — but they really ought not to. With Cristiano Ronaldo now 37 and unable to play a high-energy style every week (that’s if he stays at the club anyway), plus Cavani’s departure and the Mason Greenwood situation, United need to act.

It’s high time United’s recruitment seem sought an under-the-radar striker signing to inject some energy into their attacking line. They have Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga as two very promising wide players but they need a focal point with potential and the ability to bag loads of goals.

They should look no further than Real Sociedad and Sweden forward Alexander Isak, who possesses all the technical and physical attributes United need from their striker: quick, mobile, strong, gifted with the ball at his feet and still only 22. His goals for Sociedad have dried up a touch lately, but he still has 30 of them in 63 La Liga starts, plus nine for Sweden already. He’s not the finished article like a Harry Kane or Erling Haaland but he’d be a seriously smart and exciting addition.

Player to target: Alexander Isak.

Dan Murphy – Centre-back

Should Cristiano Ronaldo remain at the club then the need for a striker hopefully shouldn’t be quite as pressing, especially as Joe Hugill is continuing to push his way towards the first-team. A position they should look at sooner is centre-back.

Antonio Rudiger's contract at Chelsea expires in the summer
Antonio Rudiger’s contract at Chelsea expires in the summer

It’s amazing that they have to after signing Raphael Varane last summer but, while he’s been great when on the pitch, his injury record has often left United exposed. Harry Maguire is enduring a terrible season, Victor Lindelof is decent but has a ceiling and Eric Bailly and Phil Jones can’t be relied upon due to the amount of time they spend on the sidelines. Another quality option is needed.

United have been shipping goals all season, with only Leicester City conceding more than them in the top 10, and while a new midfielder should help them become more solid another signing in the heart of defence should be brought in to secure the back-line.

The best option could be Antonio Rudiger, who has proven his quality in the Premier League and looks likely to be available on a free this summer when his contract at Chelsea expires. There will likely be stiff competition for him, though.

Player to target: Antonio Rudiger.

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