Manchester City > Manchester United
Manchester United may currently be ‘the best of the rest’ in the Premier League. But they are nowhere near the level of city rivals and soon to be Premier League champions, Manchester City.
Since the 2017/18 campaign, the Sky Blues have won two league titles, and are firmly on course for their 3rd in four years.
Man City have set a Premier League points record, become the first male English side to clinch the domestic treble, and won three League Cups and an FA Cup, too.
Pep Guardiola and co. have also booked their spot in this season’s League Cup final, whilst still going strong in both the FA Cup and Champions League.
Manchester United, on the other hand, during the same stretch, have made a couple of semi-finals, and finished 2nd in the Premier League once under Jose Mourinho.
The Red Devils now look set for a 2nd-placed finish once again this term. But with 27 points needed from their last 10 outing to match their points total from 2017/18, it is hard to argue that too much progress has been made in recent years.
United, though, nevertheless appear ready to persist with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for at least one more term.
So, if the club’s owners are truly looking to throw their weight behind the Norwegian, they need to back him in the market, for any chance of competing with a Manchester City team that has quality throughout their squad, backed by a top, top manager.
So, here at 101, we have selected four players who we believe would transform Man United into a side capable of putting an end to Manchester City’s dominance over the domestic game.
Note: These are not four transfers we believe will happen this summer. They are simply players who would dramatically improve Manchester United, and make them title challengers.
One area in which United must improve if they hope to secure their first Premier League title since the Sir Alex Ferguson days is their centre-forward spot.
At present, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are United main no.9s.
However, Martial has proven on numerous occasions that he is not good enough to be the sole centre-forward for a top, top side.
The Frenchman simply does not have the goalscoring instinct, and often fluffs his lines when presented with big chances.
Cavani is the opposite of Martial, with his keen eye for goal and deadly finishing having improved Man United a fair bit this season.
However, at 34 years of age, the Uruguayan is obviously not a long-term option, with his future at Old Trafford beyond this campaign having also been cast into doubt of late.
Therefore, one of Man United’s priorities should be to bring in a fairly young, goalscoring centre-forward.
The perfect choice for the Reds, or any club in world football for that matter, would be Erling Haaland.
Despite being just 20 years of age, the hitman is dominating with Borussia Dortmund, having netted 19 in 19 league outings, along with 10 in six Champions League matches this season.
He is also believed to have a release clause of around £65m, but that is not due to be active until 2022.
So, if Man United do wish to land the forward this summer, they will likely have to stump up a much higher sum.
Whatever the fee required, though, Haaland, who looks set to be one of Europe’s leading strikers for the next decade at least, would be worth every penny.
Much like up top, Manchester United should probably also be looking to improve their right-wing spot, in order to mount a successful title challenge.
At present, all of Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and occasionally Marcus Rashford are tasked with filling in on the right.
Man United also have some promising young talents – Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri – who are naturally right-wingers.
But to become one of Europe’s elite again, the Red Devils need to stop relying on out-of-position/inexperienced stars.
The best and most obvious choice to fill this role at present is Jadon Sancho.
United have been linked with the winger for some time now. But with BVB looking set to miss out on Champions League football for next season, perhaps this summer would be the best time for Ed Woodward and co. to strike.
Like Haaland, despite being just 20, Sancho has already proven that he is more than capable of doing it on the big stage.
And though the winger isn’t enjoying his best season in Germany, he has nevertheless scored 12 and assisted 16 in 31 outings thus far.
Another key area United need to improve in is their centre-back spot.
Harry Maguire is a decent centre-half and captain, despite his lack of pace. However, outside of the Englishman, United have very little quality at the back.
This comes with Victor Lindelof having proved on numerous occasions that he just isn’t good enough to be a regular starter for a side aiming to win the Premier League, whilst Eric Bailly, though a solid player on his day, has been plagued with injury issues throughout his stint in England.
One player Man United could target to partner Maguire is left-footed stopper Pau Torres.
Torres is a product of Spanish outfit Villarreal’s youth system, with whom he remains to this day.
The 24-year-old has notched 32 appearances across all competitions for El Submarino Amarillo this term, playing a crucial role in their fight for a European spot.
Torres has also demonstrated his amazing passing range and ability on the ball over the last few seasons, a trait all top centre-backs need to possess in the modern game.
In terms of a potential fee for the defender, Villarreal are said to want around €65m to part with Torres.
The final player Manchester United should target is Denis Zakaria.
The Red Devils, outside of an ageing Nemanja Matic, do not boast a proper quality ‘no.6’.
Whilst Fred and Scott McTominay are both solid players, they look more suited to box-to-box roles.
So, with Solskjaer keen to utilise both Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in his midfield, this can leave the Reds wide open.
One of Solskjaer’s solutions to this has been to play a ‘McFred’ pivot, behind Fernandes, with Pogba out wide.
But surely it would make more sense for United to have one defensively sound midfielder, who can allow both Pogba and Fernandes to get further forward. And in Denis Zakaria, the Manchester giants would have exactly that.
Zakaria joined Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2017, and has since gone on to firmly establish himself as a key cog at the base of the club’s midfield.
The 24-year-old, prior to a knee injury, notched 31 outings for Monchengladbach last term, playing a central role in the German outfit securing a Champions League berth.
And though the same injury also saw him miss the start of the current campaign, the Swiss midfielder has since returned, continuing to shine in his deep-lying berth.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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|1||Manchester City FC||29||40||68|
|2||Manchester United FC||28||23||54|
|3||Leicester City FC||28||16||53|
|5||West Ham United FC||27||11||48|
|7||Tottenham Hotspur FC||27||18||45|
|9||Aston Villa FC||27||11||41|
|12||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||28||-9||35|
|13||Crystal Palace FC||28||-17||34|
|16||Newcastle United FC||28||-17||28|
|17||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||27||-8||26|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||28||-36||18|
|20||Sheffield United FC||28||-29||14|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||17|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||16|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||16|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||14|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||13|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||13|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||12|
|Gundogan, Ilkay||Manchester City FC||12|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||10|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||10|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||9|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||9|
|Mahrez, Riyad||Manchester City FC||9|
|Barnes, Harvey||Leicester City FC||9|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||9|
|Lacazette, Alexandre||Arsenal FC||9|
|Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick||Arsenal FC||9|
|Maddison, James||Leicester City FC||8|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||8|
|Soucek, Tomas||West Ham United FC||8|
|Player||Team||Red Cards||Yellow Cards|
|Gallagher, Conor||West Bromwich Albion||0||8|
|Maguire, Harry||Manchester United FC||0||8|
|Bellerin, Hector||Arsenal FC||0||8|
|Milivojevic, Luka||Crystal Palace FC||1||7|
|Hayden, Isaac||Newcastle United FC||0||8|
|Lundstram, John||Sheffield United FC||1||6|
|Evans, Jonny||Leicester City FC||0||7|
|Egan, John||Sheffield United FC||1||6|
|Bissouma, Yves||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||6|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||0||6|
|Tielemans, Youri||Leicester City FC||0||6|
|Shaw, Luke||Manchester United FC||0||6|
|Klich, Mateusz||Leeds United||0||6|
|Doucoure, Abdoulaye||Everton FC||0||6|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||0||6|
|Hojbjerg, Pierre||Tottenham Hotspur FC||0||6|
|Westwood, Ashley||Burnley FC||0||6|
|Xhaka, Granit||Arsenal FC||1||5|
|Romeu, Oriol||Southampton FC||0||6|
|Kante, N`Golo||Chelsea FC||0||6|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||13|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||10|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||10|
|De Bruyne, Kevin||Manchester City FC||10|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||9|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||7|
|Cresswell, Aaron||West Ham United FC||7|
|Digne, Lucas||Everton FC||6|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||5|
|Maddison, James||Leicester City FC||5|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||5|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||5|
|Foden, Phil||Manchester City FC||5|
|Werner, Timo||Chelsea FC||5|
|Neto, Pedro||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||5|
|Shaw, Luke||Manchester United FC||5|
|Robertson, Andrew||Liverpool FC||5|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||4|