Manchester United's triple transfer deal in 2019 looks worse than ever
At times during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in charge at Manchester United, it appeared the Norwegian was steering the club in the right direction. Back to back top four finishes spoke to this.
But here we are in 2022, three years on from Solskjaer’s appointment, with United back at square one.
Not only has the progress unravelled, but the transfer business conducted by Solskjaer is currently looking remarkably poor.
In Solskjaer’s first summer he spent £147 million on three players, one who has been sold, and the other two look to be in need of replacing.
Harry Maguire: £80 million
£80 million was a questionable figure to spend on a centre-back at the time, when the funds could have been better spent spread around the team.
There were plenty of alternate options too – but United had tunnel vision and were desperate to sign Maguire.
Maguire did help United’s defence improve, and proved durable, an issue United’s centre-backs have struggled with in the past.
But as time has gone on, weaknesses in the defender’s game have continued to be exposed, centering on his lack of pace.
Maguire being given the captain’s armband has not helped, as it has increased the pressure on Maguire, and his performances are not standing up to the scrutiny.
The Mail report Maguire’s future at United is in doubt, amid plans this summer to sign a ‘world class’ centre-back to play alongside Raphael Varane.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: £50 million
United knew at the time that the £50 million spent on Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a lot, considering he was a one-dimensional right-back.
The coaching staff hoped that they could work with him to improve the attacking side of his game, bearing in mind he was just 21 when he was signed.
Wan-Bissaka had an excellent first season, seemingly offering hope of solving the right-back position. But now it looks to be in need of fixing all over again.
Wan-Bissaka has not developed the attacking side of his game as United hoped, and his defending has shown up more and more flaws over the past 18 months.
For United’s Champions League clash away at Atletico, United even preferred to start Victor Lindelof at the position.
The club have been linked with making new signings at right-back, with The Mail claiming the club are keen on Tariq Lamptey.
Both Wan-Bissaka and Maguire look to be in need of replacing, and if sold, United would take a big loss on both.
Dan James: £17 million
Dan James was a gamble, a cheap deal taken on by United to offset the two huge spends. The reality was that he was a quick fix at the wing position, with top target Jadon Sancho unavailable for what turned out to be another two years.
James was a fine squad player, who United actually made a profit on, with Leeds buying him for £25 million this summer.
But when it comes to a football assessment, James is no longer at the club for a reason, because he does not have the quality United needed.
United don’t sign players with an intention of selling them for a profit in two years. United sign players for the long term, hoping they will have long and successful careers at Old Trafford.
James did not achieve this, perhaps he never stood a chance. But his failure serves to underline a transfer window which three years on, looks worse than ever.