The wheels are in motion as Manchester United look to strengthen their side in the summer transfer window. Erik ten Hag has now been in the job for one full week, and it is less than a month until the club reconvenes for the start of pre-season training.
In an ideal world, United will have a new signing to boast about before that start date on June 27, but if they are away on international duty, it might not be until July that they rock up at Carrington to meet their new teammates.
United took the decision to not advance with any transfers until they finalized a deal for Ten Hag to become their next manager, meaning they have now had over a month to get to work on their shortlists and gauge which targets might actually want to move this summer .
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Signing at least one new midfielder has been identified as the ‘biggest’ challenge for United this season, but they also want to sign one forward with a preference for another, to offset the exodus of attack-minded players who are out of contract next month .
Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani appear to have played for United for the last time. Anthony Martial is available for transfer and Mason Greenwood is unavailable for selection.
United inquired about signing Dane Scarlett earlier in the year and made initial inquiries about Lyon forward Moussa Dembele back in March. Ajax forward Antony has been linked with United after playing under Ten Hag for two years, and Darwin Nunez is another being looked at by the club.
But perhaps the most interesting person on the list is Christopher Nkunku.
Ralf Rangnick has recommended the RB Leipzig star to United, and they do have a legitimate interest in his signature, though the Bundesliga club have no interest in letting him go this summer.
Nkunku, 24, has shone in Germany this season with 35 goals and 22 assists, being named Bundesliga Player of the Season after an incredible campaign in which he was named the league’s Player of the Month on four separate occasions as well.
There can be no denying the obvious quality of the France international, but this season’s struggles for Jadon Sancho certainly cast a bit of doubt on whether or not he’d be able to replicate such an impact in the Premier League.
Supporters will no doubt point out examples of players who have adapted well from one league to another, but it is interesting to note that in recent years, fellow forwards like Sancho, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have all struggled despite shining so brightly in the German top-flight.
Likewise, Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both struggled to find their feet at Old Trafford despite their success with Dortmund, two further examples of the difficulties which can occur when switching to a new domestic league.
Leroy Sane and Son Heung-min are two stars who took the Premier League by storm after completing their moves, and Erling Haaland could well be added to the list if his transfer to Man City is a success this summer.
However, on balance, they represent exceptions rather than the expectations of what a Bundesliga player tends to do in the Premier League, and there is a right to be cautious about Nkunku despite his staggering numbers this season.
If United can afford to take a risk, then the RB Leipzig star would be a worthy acquisition this summer, but with so many positions to strengthen and a limited budget to do so, it could well be too big a risk to take.
Being one of the best players in the Bundesliga counts for little when you are faced with the intense scrutiny of playing for United.
Just ask Jadon Sancho.
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