We are 14 days into January and at present it feels like we can quite confidently say, ‘Manchester United will not be signing anybody’.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer discussed transfers earlier this week. He intimated that the January deal for Bruno Fernandes last year would likely be a one-off.
He told the club website: “January is always difficult but if something comes up you think is a long-term target anyway that’s another scenario.
“But not many teams would like to lose their players in January, so it’s unlikely something will happen on the inside. There might be two or three going out because, one, they deserve to play football, for their own good and for their own careers.”
January traditionally slow
January is often seen as a tough window to do business. The deal for Fernandes was a rarity rather than something which happens regularly.
But some of United’s best ever deals have been struck mid-season. Pre-Fernandes there were Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra who arrived in a January transfer window.
As did Louis Saha, while going further back Andy Cole was a January arrival.
Convincing teams to part with top players is not so easy of course, and the ongoing effect of the pandemic makes it less likely that United have money to throw around. The key is spending efficiently.
There’s an opportunity
Trimming the squad is important. An inability to shift unwanted or fringe players may have delayed United’s business in the summer. So if United can get a handful of players out, it could help later this year.
United do have an opportunity though to capitalise on a strong league position. Now more than ever we want to see ambition. One top signing could be the difference between first place, or anywhere else.
We saw the impact Fernandes had last season, and in 2019 United signed nobody and narrowly missed out on the top four. One signing could give the squad a big boost.
Defensively there are still questions and out wide United lack options. United shouldn’t be starting from scratch here; there should be a list of players scouted, ready to focus on.
Now of course the pool will be far wider in the summer and this will be in United’s thinking, a preference to wait. Last January’s deal for Fernandes was sparked by a dreadful result at home to Burnley and glaring squad deficiencies. United are stronger now and hopefully won’t get shown up in the two upcoming games against Liverpool. If we are, then that might prompt some action.
At the end of the season if United fall short, we don’t want to be looking back and thinking the club played it too safe. A game changer like Leon Bailey might be the type of ready-now winger who can come in and swing a few matches in our favour.
Go on, surprise us
So at this point we are not expecting any incoming deals to be done, but it doesn’t stop us hoping.
What we would like to see is just one surprise. One gamble taken on a low risk player who won’t break the bank.
That’s why a move for a top prospect like Moises Caicedo seemed so interesting, although that one has now fallen by the wayside.
United have Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri to play a part in the second half of the season perhaps, but if there is another player who can also come in and make an impact, United should look at it.
There is no sense stepping back altogether. United should stay alert to possible opportunities and be ready to strike. Bargains from Scandinavia, Holland, or Portugal could all be signed for under £15 million.
It shouldn’t be a case of buying for ‘buying’s sake’, but there might be a surprise United are capable of pulling off.
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