Let’s rewind to 2019. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in his first summer in charge and Manchester United needed a total overhaul.
Right-back, centre-back, the wing, midfield, striker, United were in need of the lot, and it has taken a long time to get to where we are, and by no means is it complete.
Centre-back was a priority, but considering all of the other areas of need, it became a subject of intense debate whether Manchester United should blow £80 million on Harry Maguire.
One of the alternatives was Toby Alderweireld. The Tottenham defender was available at £25 million due to a clause in his contract, and in 2019 he featured in the Champions League final.
A move for Alderweireld would have been a short-term fix at centre-back, and allowed money to be plunged into other areas of the team.
Who knows what that might have looked like, possibly very bad, if United had decided to pay up the £50 million Sean Longstaff fee.
The Sun claimed at one stage Solskjaer’s United had decided to pay up for Alderweireld. Evidently there was a change of heart, and it was the right decision.
United are in a better place now
Tottenham confirmed this week Toby Alderweireld has left the club to sign with Qatari club Al-Duhail. He left for a paltry figure too, in the region of £4 million.
Meanwhile Harry Maguire, who cost a huge sum in 2019, is going from strength to strength. He was recently voted in the Euro 2020 team of the tournament after his displays with England.
What’s more, Maguire looks worth every penny of the £80 million. United are a weaker side on the rare occasions he is unavailable, and he is not slowing down.
Had United signed Toby Alderweireld in 2019, then Raphael Varane would now be coming in as his replacement.
Instead the incoming Varane will form what looks like being one of Europe’s best defensive partnerships alongside Harry Maguire.
Manchester United do not always get recruitment decisions right through the years, but more often than not under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the right calls are being made.
It would have been so easy to take the quick, cheap fix, with Alderweireld in 2019. Solskjaer instead realised this was going to be a project, a rebuild which would take time. Only now are the pieces in place to really kick on.
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