When it comes to the January transfer window, Manchester United for once could be forgiven for not having yet formulated a full plan just yet.
The club are still looking to integrate players signed, late, in the summer, and get the best out of Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani.
Amad Diallo will also arrive from Atalanta in January. He and the development of Facundo Pellistri should give the squad a boost.
There are six steps United need to take to make the upcoming window a success…
Trim the squad down
The top priority will be to try to trim the squad. Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are three players who could leave, The MEN report.
Jesse Lingard is another player in need of a switch if his current situation does not improve.
United need to reduce the wage bill, and getting some or all of these players off the books can create an opportunity for incomings, either in January or in the summer.
Deal with the goalkeeper situation
Dean Henderson could seek a loan move, ESPN report. This would be with the aim of securing an England place for Euro 2021.
A short-term loan or even an 18-month loan would see United promote Sergio Romero back to the number two role behind David de Gea.
In the case Henderson decides to stay put and fight for his place, then United need to grant Romero an exit, further reducing the wage bill.
React to injuries
With 12 matches taking place over the next 37 days, United would be naive to believe that there will be no injuries.
This could create holes in the squad which need to be addressed. For instance, if Nemanja Matic gets injured, should United bring forward plans to sign a new defensive midfielder?
Could a centre-back injury crisis see United step up plans to bring in a new defender a few months early?
United need to be ready to react, and have a shortlist of targets who can be recruited if there is an urgent need.
Even if the squad is fully fit and performing well, United need to stay opportunistic in a market where some clubs may need to cash in on players.
United landed Bruno Fernandes last January and it had a big positive impact on the squad. New faces at the start of 2021 could have a similarly galvanising effect, especially if United are in the title race.
United should look ahead to Euro 2021 and consider who could see their price tag rocket. Moving early to bring a player in could become a shrewd investment.
Likewise, being prepared to pay a little extra to land Dayot Upamecano now before his release clause can be activated in the summer, could see United beat rivals to his signature.
Plan for Pogba
As it stands, Paul Pogba’s contract is set to expire in June 2022. Without a new deal, this coming summer becomes the best possible time to cash in, especially if he has a strong European Championships.
If that is United’s plan, then it is important to get to work on signing a replacement.
Buying early could give United an advantage, rather than waiting until Pogba is gone, when clubs will know there is money ready to be spent.
Getting an extra midfielder in now will benefit United over the second half of the season, and give the new recruit extra time to adjust.
Assess young player loans
The final step for United to take is to carefully look at which players on loan should stay where they are, and who could be moved.
For instance, James Garner’s loan at Watford is going well and Dylan Levitt’s stint at Charlton is shaping up poorly so far.
There are also a handful of young players in the academy who could benefit from spending the second half of the season out on loan, with midfielder Ethan Galbraith one who stands out.
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