A recent revival in form for Manchester United has seen them climb back up the Premier League table and position themselves within striking distance of the top six. The Red Devil’s campaign has seen lots of ups and downs already with Solskjaer’s side failing to find any real consistency to their performances and results suffering as a consequence.
With the New Year fast approaching, the Christmas period could be a defining couple of weeks in United’s season. Their squad depth has been questioned and the frequency of fixtures will certainly put them to the test. It is almost certain that United will be searching for reinforcements come January and Solskjaer has reportedly identified eight transfer targets which he will look to pursue.
The list of midfielders and forwards are potential long-term options for the club and fans will be hoping they can secure some signatures sooner rather than later.
James Maddison – 9/10
Maddison has been a key man in Leicester’s superb start to the season. His four goals and two assists have helped the Foxes to 2nd in the league table and Brendan Rogers has his side playing some great football. The creative midfielder would likely to be utilised in the number ten role in behind the striker, using his vision to thread through passes to United’s pacey forwards. He would provide a link between midfield and attack that Solskjaer’s side have sorely missed this season, especially in the absence of Paul Pogba.
The 22-year-old has plenty of potential and the opportunity to sign him is one which United must surely pursue. However, the question that remains to be answered: why would Maddison leave a team that is playing so well and battling at the top of the table to join an inconsistent United side? The Englishman is a target which Solskjaer must do his best to lure to United, but they may struggle to convince Maddison that the club is the right fit for him unless they can improve their performances and put themselves in the fight for the top four.
Jadon Sancho – 8/10
The tricky young winger has been repeatedly linked with a return to England, with United among the teams said to be interested in acquiring his services. Since leaving to join Borussia Dortmund, the teenager has set Germany alight and has started this campaign just as promisingly. Despite Dortmund struggling in the Bundesliga where they sit 6th (Sky Sports), Sancho has continued to impress, registering three goals and five assists in his nine league appearances.
He is a perfect fit for Solskjaer’s side and would provide a naturally right-sided option for United, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James all proving more effective off the left. Sancho’s pace and direct dribbling is similar to his compatriot Rashford and they would form a menacing duo when driving at any defence.
A possible stumbling block could be the price of the wonder kid. With a market value of £90 million, Sancho is likely to cost United upwards of £100 million and some deadwood may have to be offloaded to make way for him. Furthermore, there will be a lot of interest for the youngster and his decision may be swayed by the promise of Champions League football which United are currently unable to offer.
Erling Haaland – 8/10
The 19-year-old Norweigan seems like a no brainer for United. Having worked under Solskjaer at previous club Molde, there is an established partnership between the two which may be an important factor in bringing the teenager to Old Trafford.
Haaland’s electric start to the season has put RB Salzburg three points clear at the top of the T-Mobile Bundesliga, as well as in a position to fight for a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The centre forward has already netted 26 times for his club in 17 appearances with seven of those goals coming in Europe (WhoScored).
The 6ft 3 talisman has proven himself as a prolific goal scorer and could be utilised in a lone striker role to spearhead Solskjaer’s attack. United have been without a natural goal scorer since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the promising Haaland could provide a finishing touch to the Reds’ pacey, counter-attacking style.
Jack Grealish – 7/10
United’s desire to sign a creative midfielder who can play in behind the striker has led to Grealish’s name being considered as a potential option. He is a similar player to Maddison with good vision and an eye for goal. However, the Villa captain would be a much cheaper option than the Leicester star, with a value at £22.5 million (Transfer Markt).
No Villa player has more key passes than Grealish and he has the joint-most assists for his side, as well as finding the net twice (WhoScored). Although a move to a big club would be tempting for him, he is the captain of his boyhood club and it won’t be easy to pry him away. There is a lot of football to be played between now and January and Aston Villa’s league position, come the turn of the year, may play a part in Grealish’s decision to look elsewhere. If the Villans find themselves stuck in a relegation scrap, the offer to jump ship might be tempting, although Dean Smith will be doing everything in his power to keep the key man at the club.
The option to sign Grealish is a good one, but only as a back-up option if there is no feasible deal for James Maddison.
Declan Rice – 6/10
Declan Rice is a name that has been strongly linked with United since he broke onto the scene for West Ham. The defensive midfielder is effective in his role and has the most interceptions for the Irons as well as ranking second for number of tackles per game (WhoScored).
It is likely that Rice could be tempted away from struggling West Ham, although it is debatable as to whether United really need him. The emergence of Scott McTominay has been unexpected but promising for United fans. The Scot has secured himself a regular first-team spot and has impressed with his reading of the game. He consistently breaks up play and turns defence into attack with quick passes forward.
With the 22-year-old rapidly improving, it seems unnecessary for United to fork out on a similar player without giving McTominay the chance to grow. Although this potential transfer may have been a priority last season, McTominay has materialised into a consistent player and one of the few leaders on the pitch for Solskjaer.
John McGinn – 6/10
McGinn is a player that has largely gone under the radar until Aston Villa burst onto the Premier League scene this season. The box-to-box midfielder has been an instrumental part of Villa’s side and when they perform well, he is often the key man.
The Glaswegian has registered three goals and two assists for his club this season and has been their most influential player on and off the ball. No Villa player averages more dribbles or shots per game with only Jack Grealish responsible for more key passes. He also ranks 2nd for number of tackles per game, regaining possession and starting counter-attacks (WhoScored).
McGinn’s market value is £5.85 million and with Aston Villa struggling, a move to United would surely appeal to the Scot. Although he wouldn’t be a key player for the Reds, he would provide a strong back-up option in a United midfield that lacks depth.
Moussa Dembele – 6/10
Former Fulham striker Moussa Dembele may be keen on a return to England with Lyon struggling to keep up with the pace in Ligue 1. They sit in 14th, only four points above the relegation zone and have failed to find any real form in the league despite looking good in Europe.
The Frenchman has remained as prolific as ever in front of goal, scoring 24 times in 45 appearances for Les Gones. His performances have resulted in his name being linked with a number of top European clubs and the 23-year-old may be weighing-up his future at the club, as their form continues to disappoint domestically.
Nobody really knows whether Dembele has what it takes to cut it in the Premier League, but he has scored bundles of goals everywhere he’s played and this may be enough for Solskjaer to gamble on. However, Lyon are unlikely to let their top goal scorer leave on the cheap and his potentially hefty price tag would likely put United off considering his unproven nature.
Callum Wilson – 5/10
United’s search for a goal scorer has thrown up the name of experienced forward Callum Wilson. The 27-year-old has consistently scored goals in the Premier League and has netted five times this season in Bournemouth’s solid start to the campaign.
Although it is easy to dismiss the potential signing, one positive would be the price. With the forward currently valued at £27 million, it is unlikely United would be expected to pay more than double that to secure his signature. Solskjaer has been without options going forward at many times this season and with a striker his main priority, Wilson could prove a useful back-up option giving United the ability to rotate and still have a player with an eye for goal on the pitch.
Despite this, Wilson won’t be at the top of Solskjaer’s transfer shortlist. Having only managed to get into double figures once for goals (Premier League), United will be looking for a 20 goal-a-season man to fire them back to glory.