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Transfer Window Verdict – Grading Manchester United’s Summer Business

Lisandro Martinez during a practice session
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It’s been a bumper summer of football transfer activity for Manchester United as the Premier League giants spent an eye-watering sum of £229 million in the transfer window. The Red Devils flexed their financial muscle with the purchases of Antony and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax, along with the additions of Casemiro from Real Madrid, Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord, Christian Eriksen on a free transfer and Martin Dubravka on loan.

It was a significant overhaul at Old Trafford with six first-team additions, and the hope around Manchester United is that Erik Ten Hag has enough players that fit his style of play to take the team back to the top four this Premier League season.

Did they upgrade their playing XI?

Of the six senior signings made by Manchester United this summer, at least four players significantly improve the first team in the short term. Lisandro Martinez is too short to be an elite Premier League centre-back, but his quality on the ball and aggressive defending are important attributes that Manchester United lacked. Similarly, Tyrell Malacia is an upgrade on Luke Shaw, more suited to the modern game with his ability in possession and 1v1 defensive capabilities.


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Casemiro may not be the answer over the long term in the Premier League, but he is the first proper defensive midfielder at Manchester United in at least five seasons. The Brazilian isn’t great on the ball and won’t help their build-up issues, but he will screen the back four and help in defensive transitions. And finally, despite the exorbitant transfer fee, Antony adds an important profile that Manchester United have needed on the right wing. The Brazilian can hold the touchline and cut inside from the right and is much more suited to playing on that side compared to United’s current options – Sancho, Elanga, Rashford, or Cristiano Ronaldo

Did they get value for their money?

Not really. Being Manchester United, they have to pay over the odds. Apart from the signing of Christian Eriksen on a free transfer from fellow Premier League club Brentford and Tyrell Malacia, Manchester United significantly overpaid on their three marquee signings of Casemiro, Antony, and Lisandro Martinez.


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The South American triumvirate cost a combined £200 million on top of the sky-high wages likely offered to the trio to come to the Theatre of Dreams. Manchester United could have gone about their business more smartly, looking to sign players such as Julian Alvarez, Antonio Rudiger or Ibrahima Sangare in similar positions, instead. However, Erik Ten Hag wished to work with players that he is familiar with from his time at Ajax and the Red Devils have the luxury of paying a premium to get their deals over the line. 

Did they sell well?

Manchester United only recouped £10 million in transfer fees in the off-season with the sale of Andreas Pereira to Fulham and Eric Bailly to Marseille. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, and Edinson Cavani departed on free transfers, while Dean Henderson was loaned off to the promoted Nottingham Forest.


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The biggest piece of business that involved Manchester United this summer, though, was that of the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese desperately tried to orchestrate a move away from the Red Devils this summer with the help of his agent Jorge Mendes. However, there were no takers for the 37-year-old forward, and Ronaldo will have to spend a season in the Europe League and on the Manchester United bench. It is unlikely that Ronaldo will heavily feature in Erik ten Hag’s plans, considering how United have started the season. However, the Dutchman will need to be wary of the power the Portuguese holds in the dressing room, and he may be forced into appeasing Cristiano Ronaldo’s desire to start from time to time to keep the harmony in the squad.

Overall mark: 6.5/10


[Featured Image Credit: Manchester United]