5 Manchester United players needing to impress at the World Cup
For many Manchester United players, this year’s World Cup is a chance to put aside a lacklustre domestic campaign and impress punters on the biggest stage of them all.
Even though some individuals managed to prove their worth for the Red Devils this season, others still left a lot to be desired.
With Jose Mourinho forever looking to recruit players who will improve his side, those who are lucky to have made it to Russia must prove why they deserve a spot in next season’s squad. Bearing the ever-growing pressure on United to reach the heights of past times in mind, only the best will do for the Red Devils.
Here are five Manchester United players who need to impress in Russia this summer:
#5 Romelu Lukaku
??Romelu Lukaku: last 12 months for Belgium
⚽13 goals pic.twitter.com/8ExsffKZCV
— UEFA Nations League (@UEFAEURO) June 11, 2018
One of the biggest mysteries in modern football has been Belgium’s inability to succeed in international competition. Despite an abundance of world-class talent, manager Roberto Martinez just cannot seem to get the job done.
In perhaps one of the most competitive attacks in international football in terms of places in the squad, Romelu Lukaku has become the country’s all-time leading goalscorer by the age of 25.
An in-form Lukaku up top would improve Belgium’s chances of finally lifting gold immensely. And a red-hot Romelu would only work wonders for United going into next season.
Lukaku has become both United’s and Belgium’s most reliable option at number nine. Under the guidance of Thierry Henry in Russia, hopefully, the 25-year-old can build on a promising debut season at Old Trafford.
“A mini version of Fernandinho.”
Man Utd have reached an agreement to sign Brazil midfielder Fred.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 5, 2018
Having played in the Ukranian league for the past five seasons, many United fans probably have not seen a whole lot of their team’s recent recruit in action. Making it into Brazil’s World Cup squad speaks enough about Fred’s talent, given how competitive spaces in the Canarinho are.
If Jose Mourinho is to continue playing three in midfield into next season, many will be curious to see where Fred fits in and whether he will compliment the styles of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
Though it appears Fred could miss some of Brazil’s opening games through injury, seeing the 25-year-old in action in high-level competition will be a good indicator as to what he will bring to United next season.
Brazil are even favourites to leave Russia with the trophy. I’m sure fans would welcome another World Cup winner into the club with open arms.
#3 Marcos Rojo
World Cup Coverage | ? Marcos Rojo on Argentina's trophy ambition:
"We want payback for the way things happened at the last World Cup."
"We will do everything to give our fans the possibility to celebrate winning the trophy again."#WorldCup2018 #SeleccionArgentina ?? pic.twitter.com/ezu1Wissaa
— Yahoo Sport UK (@YahooSportUK) June 6, 2018
Much like Manchester United, the Argentine national team’s main area of concern is the defence. Bringing these two teams together is 28-year-old Marcos Rojo, a frequently featured figure at the heart of his nation’s back line.
In March, Rojo extended his United contract, keeping him at the club until 2021. However, he finished the season with just nine Premier League appearances.
In the few times he has featured, Rojo has been one of United’s most-trusted options in defence – at least according to the fans.
If Rojo maintains his regular spot in the Argentina squad this summer and continues to impress, then maybe Mourinho will realise the talent he is wasting.
#2 Marcus Rashford
Some good news to bring you… ?
England have been handed a fitness boost with the news that Marcus Rashford is cleared to return to full training.
? https://t.co/M0htwcXYvy #bbcworldcup #worldcup pic.twitter.com/aRUNBh0oV4
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 15, 2018
Although Marcus Rashford’s Manchester United career has never seemed to be in any serious doubt, the signing of Alexis Sanchez has certainly seen him tumble down the pecking order.
Despite a sensational effort against Costa Rica in a recent friendly, Rashford has failed to provide any standout moments of individual brilliance towards the tail end of the season.
The 20-year-old was given the chance to occupy his favoured centre-forward role in some of the less important clashes towards the end of the season – yet still found himself benched in bigger games.
Based on Gareth Southgate’s current system, Rashford will even need to earn his way into England’s starting 11, with Raheem Sterling the likely partner for Harry Kane up front. This summer will be crucial for Marcus Rashford and his role in the United first-team.
#1 Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba: “I remember France’s 3-0 final win over Brazil in 1998. I was really young. As soon as France won, we all went outside and climbed over the cars. There were horns sounding and we were all happy.”
➡ https://t.co/SQLDPHJRJs #myfirstworldcup pic.twitter.com/jlS7l4BFc6
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 11, 2018
On his day, Paul Pogba’s technical ability as a footballer can be difficult to mimic. For Manchester United this season, however, those days have been hard to come by.
In the opening months of the 2017/18 campaign, it was clear why United forked out a world-record fee for the midfielder the previous summer. As the season went on, and the Red Devils drifted further from Premier League glory, Pogba’s reliability seemingly dwindled.
France certainly have the talent to trounce any team before them, though it looks like the lack of coaching prowess from Didier Deschamps could be their downfall.
What better stage to prove the naysayers wrong than the World Cup? Just imagine the confidence Pogba would bring into the side next season off the back of success in Russia.