It’s been a long time. It’s taken a long time. It’s been trying. It’s been incredibly costly. However, Manchester United may have had a successful transfer window after all.
Erik ten Hag’s plans have not gone as planned, as United have been unable to sign his main target, Frenkie de Jong, but they have signed a solid, and arguably more needed, option in Casemiro to join the signings of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, and Lisandro Martinez. In addition, the club has secured its primary attacking objective.
The deal is still subject to international clearance and personal terms, but United has already confirmed the signing of Ajax’s promising winger Antony. The Brazilian comes at a high price, potentially reaching £85.5 million, but he has been the manager’s first choice to bolster his offensive options before the summer began.
Antony’s impending arrival will offer much-needed balance to United’s unbalanced attack, as he is a left-footed right winger rather than a right-footed left winger, and he will almost certainly move straight into Ten Hag’s strongest side once he becomes available. After Antony and reserve goalie Martin Dubravka officially join the club, United’s summer business will likely be over.
With these two acquisitions, United will have made six signings this summer, with all save Dubravka expected to be in Ten Hag’s new-look strongest XI. Despite his struggles playing out from the back, David de Gea looks certain to retain his No. 1 spot, with Ten Hag deciding to adapt his system and limit the Spaniard’s possession. If further huge blunders are made, Dubravka’s arrival, along with Tom Heaton, will provide more competition.
The contrast between United’s first two games (horrible losses to Brighton and Brentford) and the following two (victories over Liverpool and Southampton) couldn’t be more obvious, and the largest change has come in defense. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw started both games, and United have looked considerably more solid since they were removed from the lineup. Raphael Varane and Malacia, their replacements, must be in the backline going forward. Martinez has found his feet with Varane, while Diogo Dalot continues to lead Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Casemiro is the defensive midfielder United has been clamoring for years, thus he must be in the starting lineup to finally provide some defense protection. Christian Eriksen has brought much-needed passing range and grace to the midfield, so he should start alongside the Brazilian, but Fred, Scott McTominay, and Donny van de Beek are also viable possibilities.
Bruno Fernandes scored a fantastic winner against Southampton, and it’s his capacity to conjure up moments of magic out of nothing that makes him untouchable despite not being at his best for some time. Antony will very definitely attack from the right wing, with Jadon Sancho on the opposite flank. Due to Anthony Martial’s tragic injury, Marcus Rashford now appears to be the primary striker for the foreseeable future. Cristiano Ronaldo (if he remains), Anthony Elanga, and Anthony Martial are also viable options.