Declan Rice, Richarlison and Antony - three players to rebuild Manchester United after summer transfer window exodus
Manchester United are set to lose a huge chunk of their first team squad on a free transfer this summer. Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Lee Grant are all expected to depart, and that puts pressure on Erik ten Hag to bring in the right players. We look at three potential options.
Manchester United waved goodbye to several first teamers on Monday night as they defeated Brentford, and there are more following them out the door. Who will replace them?
Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani all had their moment in the Old Trafford rain, almost certainly for the final time, and certainly for the final time in a United shirt. There are, however, others who are likely to be on their way. Jesse Lingard was unavailable but otherwise almost would have been given his farewell appearance, and Phil Jones is a long way from consideration if injuries aren’t a problem, but it would be a surprise to see any of them playing for Erik ten Hag next season.
Given the ability of United to generate clicks remains undimmed, even if their on-pitch achievements are indisputably diminished, it is no surprise that there is no shortage of transfer rumours. We have a look at those who could step in for the incoming Dutch manager.
The latest rumours suggest that Manchester United could be interested in Everton’s Brazilian striker Richarlison, who was last on target at the weekend to earn a potentially vital 1-0 win over Chelsea.
On the surface, the idea makes sense. Richarlison has the physical attributes to lead the line, the speed to stretch defences, and the technique to make the best of the work done by Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes behind him. He is also able to play wide should Cristiano Ronaldo remain at Old Trafford for another year - which is looking more likely by the day given the veteran’s astonishing wages.
Another Everton forward could be an option, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin attracting attention as he continues to be the club’s most valuable asset, with international experience with England. Reportedly both players could be available for around £50 million, with United’s budget, and both of them would bring the average age of the squad down. If Everton go down, expect Frank Lampard or his replacement to be powerless to stop their departures. If they stay up, then it still feels inevitable that one of them will leave, but Arsenal could offer competition to United for their signatures.
Richarlison of Everton celebrates his goal with a flare during the Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on May 01, 2022 in Liverpool, England
Image credit: Getty Images
Declan Rice (West Ham)
For a couple of years he has felt inevitable that Declan Rice would move from east to west London, with Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, and Lampard before him, said to be keen on the adroit and versatile defensive player, who has emerged as England’s first-choice holding player.
The 23-year-old plays with style and with the right coaching has the ability to replace the underwhelming Paul Pogba in central midfield, while offering more defensive willing. While he might not be as spectacular as the World Cup winner, he is probably more consistent and reliable, which United will need if they are to arrest their grim decline and give Ten Hag a foundation to build upon.
Recent speculation has suggested that United have a surprisingly easy run at West Ham this summer. Manchester City, another club who appeared to be keen, are counting out their stacks of cash ready to hurl it at Erling Haaland instead. Chelsea, meanwhile, are counting the cost of being bought by an ally of Vladimir Putin after years of being warned they had been bought by an ally of Vladimir Putin.
The only thing standing in the way of this transfer is United’s ability to blow both their feet off even if they are only holding a pea shooter, and the fact that with years to run on his contract, West Ham have no need to sell. Indeed, they could also argue to Rice that they offer a better chance of Champions League future in the next couple of seasons.
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Declan Rice of West Ham United warms up ahead of the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 24, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Image credit: Eurosport
It would not be a Manchester United transfer blog without putting forward the suggestion that they could return to Ten Hag’s current club, Ajax, in order to give him one of his favourite players.
Rumours abound that Ten Hag is unimpressed by the options the club have on the right wing. Assuming that Sancho plays on the left, Mason Greenwood does not return, Anthony Elanga is not yet able to convince for a full season, and Marcus Rashford continues to struggle for form, the club need someone else who can play on the flank.
Antony Matheus Dos Santos of Ajax, celebrates the 3-2, Feyenoord goalkeeper Ofir Marciano during the Dutch premier league match between Ajax and Feyenoord at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on March 20, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image credit: Getty Images
22-year-old Brazilian Antony could step in, with 12 goals already this season and 10 assists, Ten Hag has been clear that Ajax miss him when he is injured, and given he quickly integrated into the side after crossing the Atlantic from Brazil, there would be hopes that he could make a similarly quick adjustment to the demands of the Premier League. At £50m he is something of a gamble, but now is the time to back the new manager and show they have learned the lessons of their previous reticence in the market.