After splashing out over £150 million on new players almost willingly last summer, and after subsequent record revenue figures, it would be more of a shock if Ed Woodward didn’t end up writing a larger sum of cheques this time round.
The high-profile arrivals of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, alongside the world record signing of Paul Pogba, were expected to launch the club back to their beloved glory days.
However, despite winning the EFL Cup last month and being the favourites to be crowned Europa League champions, the most successful club in England still find themselves outside of the top four and struggling to challenge their rivals head-to-head in a way similar to Mourinho’s during his spells at Chelsea.
Of course, time is a key factor, and having had only ten months pass, there shouldn’t be a great deal of anxiety from Jose Mourinho. But the Portuguese manager will certainly be looking to exploit the financial power of his club and secure some of the best talents in world football, hoping to reclaim some personal dignity following his sacking at Chelsea in the process.
As one of the largest clubs globally, United are often the victims of ‘fake news’ on social media, and so it’s difficult to establish the concrete news from the phony. Still, here is a look at how they could line-up next season.
How Manchester United Could Line-up Next Season
GK – David De Gea
It has been widely speculated that the Spaniard could move back to his homeland and join Real Madrid, who are also reportedly interested in Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, for the past few years.
Mourinho’s ambition could play a vital role in persuading De Gea to stay, though failure to qualify for the Champions League may purchase his plane ticket for him.
Should the goalkeeper make the switch to the Bernabeu, United could move for Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has been holding off contract talks with AC Milan, and is represented by Mino Raiola – the man responsible for the transfers of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Pogba.
RB – Antonio Valencia/Nelson Semedo
While Valencia has been his side’s most consistent player under Mourinho, he is approaching the end of his prime and Semedo is considered one of the best young prospects in Europe.
With his blistering pace, Semedo has been one of the most dangerous attacking threats in his breakout season, meaning he is highly sought after, indicating that he could be brought in to warm the bench until he is a fuller article.
CBs – Eric Bailly/Victor Lindelof/Chris Smalling/Marcos Rojo
Bailly has only this season exceeded fifty career appearances following his £30 million move, and Marcos Rojo has had his United career reignited by Mourinho after a string of dismal performances under Louis van Gaal.
Victor Lindelof was a whisker away from signing and January, but the resurgences of Rojo and Phil Jones convinced Mourinho to hold at until at least the summer.
LB – Luke Shaw
Despite not playing anywhere near as many minutes as he would’ve hoped, or even expected, Shaw still has a key role to play at United.
Upon signing in 2014, Mourinho was also in pursuit of the youngster as Chelsea looked for a long term replacement to Ashley Cole.
CDM – Tiemoue Bakayoko/Michael Carrick
It is still unclear as to whether Carrick, who has recently been awarded with a testimonial for his services to the club, will remain a Manchester United player beyond the summer.
His importance has been repeated recognised by previous managers and Mourinho is now different. But the midfielder rarely featured since picking up a calf injury last month.
Bakayoko, a member of Monaco’s surprise package this season, has reportedly agreed terms with Chelsea, but it has also been suggested that he is in talks with a number of clubs, and United are expected to be one.
CMs – Paul Pogba/Ander Herrera
It is almost certain that these two will continue to control the midfield next season, if not for many seasons.
RW – Henrikh Mkhitayran
The Armenian didn’t have the most eccentric of introductions to English football but has since established himself as one of the Premier League’s best players.
LW – Antoine Griezmann/Anthony Martial
Griezmann is expected to join up with one of his best mates in Paul Pogba should he decide to leave Atletico at the end of the season.
But, as he fears over the weather in Manchester, Martial could claim the positiob between now and then with a congested fixture list calling for mass rotation from Mourinho.
ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Antoine Griezmann/Marcus Rashford
While Ibrahimovic is expected to trigger the one-year extension clause in his contract, the Swede’s future is still uncertain. Should he leave, Griezmann could take up his preferred position, or Rashford could be handed the playing time needed to enhance his development.
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