Could Harry Kane or Jadon Sancho join Manchester United? Will Jesse Lingard leave? Our man in Manchester answers your questions…
Sky Sports News’ James Cooper joined us for a Transfer Centre takeover on Tuesday evening, answering your Manchester United questions on where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may do his business next…
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How much credit does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserve for the improvement seen in both the style of play and development of some of the players this season, although United are still fifth in the table? @Ayubadan99 (Twitter)
James Cooper: It’s a really good place to start and in the same way we’re quick to criticise when things are going wrong, we have to be fair and actually single someone out for praise when they turn things around. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done that or at least he’s got Manchester United heading in the right direction again, I think he’d even admit this is a long journey but the first few steps look encouraging. I’ve highlighted it before but he’s improved each of his strikers, Odion Ighalo will help that process, he’s shored up his defence, the squad looks more together than it’s been for some time and we’ve started to see effective tactical changes within games. Goals and clean sheets are what win matches and United are unbeaten in their last 11 but what those games have also shown is players willing to take risks and not hiding from the ball or their responsibilities.
- The Bruno Fernandes effect
- Transfer Centre LIVE!
- Manchester United transfer rumours
What are the chances of Paul Pogba signing a new contract? – @Enalacran254 (Twitter)
JC: I’m not sure there’s a player I’ve talked more about in the past four years and Paul Pogba might be responsible for more words from journalists than any Manchester United player this century, but two things have changed this season. Yes, he’s missed but not in the way he was prior to Christmas when the team was struggling. Right now I believe the club have more power than the player in this situation than at any stage since he returned to Old Trafford. His contract situation means he has another year plus the option of another year, so effectively two more years, but I think there are more reasons for him to stay than to go. It’ll be down to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ultimately and whether he sees the right desire and determination from the player, and I can’t see any club having the money or the will to do a deal for a player who’s appeared twice in almost six months.
What are the chances of United signing a holding midfielder despite Nemanja Matic extending his contract and Fred and Scott McTominay’s improvement? – @HarryCasey96 (Twitter)
JC: I don’t necessarily think there’s a need for Manchester United to sign a new CDM but I think that issue is also wrapped up in the fate of Paul Pogba, if he were to depart there’d be a need to replace him and the finance to do so. But if he ends up remaining at Old Trafford, the prospect of him playing alongside McTominay, Fred or Matic with Fernandes in front of them would be exciting. Bruno seems to have injected new life into Nemanja Matic, who’s rediscovered a yard of pace, he’s helped Fred finally settle down and start to play while McTominay, typified by his goal against Manchester City, has the potential to be a driving force in the centre of the park. Manchester United might decide their transfer priorities lie elsewhere and don’t forget, they’re also in the race to sign young midfielder Jude Bellingham from Birmingham City.
Alexis Sanchez didn’t get off to the greatest start at United and hasn’t lived up to expectation at Inter. Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be considering cashing in on him? – @footballzone_20 (Twitter)
JC: I think there are two scenarios here, what Manchester United would like to happen and what will probably end up happening. Alexis Sanchez has become an expensive problem that doesn’t look to have been solved by his loan move to Inter Milan, so while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would love to cash in on him, there won’t be much demand from any club to sign him permanently unless United are prepared to take a financial hit on him. They could pay up his contract but that would be eye-watering too. It means the two parties might well be stuck with one another especially as this now promises to be an unprecedented transfer window, whenever it takes place. What I will say is that Sanchez might find Manchester United an easier place to be than the club he left and there’s still the possibility that the player who thrilled at Arsenal could be unlocked again.
Are United looking to bolster their defensive options and, if so, are the rumours of interest in Dayot Upamecano true? – @Queci_Suave (Twitter)
JC: A new centre-back remains a primary target for Manchester United and Dayot Upamecano is certainly on a list of options with the club’s policy, like many others, to establish a first choice with three or four other alternatives. What I don’t know is how high Upamecano is on that list. What I can say is that Victor Lindelof looks to have established a real partnership with Harry Maguire but needs competition for his place alongside the club’s captain. Eric Bailly hasn’t proved himself to be a consistent threat because of injury, and the same can be said of Axel Tuanzebe this season while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones look to be off Solskjaer’s radar too. So this looks like an area of the pitch that United will aim to strengthen.
Do you think Jesse Lingard will leave? – @mufc_cappa (Twitter)
JC: This is a tricky one because if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could get Jesse Lingard back to the player that’s given Manchester United fans plenty of good memories then there wouldn’t be a reason for him to leave this summer. But it looks as though a transfer would probably suit both parties and Lingard may have been reflecting on that point when he brought in Mino Raiola as his agent. I’m told there’s been a lot going on off the pitch and while he’s also made mistakes, I don’t think there’s an excuse for how Lingard’s been treated by some sections of the support, and what he had to endure after the game at Derby was sickening. So perhaps it’s time for him to find a new club and rediscover his love of the game, I may be biased, but I hope I’m not the only person who would like to see him smiling on the pitch again.
Will Odion Ighalo stay at Manchester United on a permanent deal? – @henrychidbere (Twitter)
JC: I think the signs are certainly positive. I asked him after a recent game if it was down to him would he want to stay permanently and he made it very clear he wants to be a Manchester United player for the long term. I have to be honest, on Deadline Day, I saw this as a panic signing and couldn’t really see how it would pay off for either party. What I didn’t know is just how much he loves Manchester United and how much of an honour he considers it to be playing for the club. If Ighalo stays, it would benefit the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. His goals at Derby were goals neither of them would instinctively score and Solskjaer wants both of them and Mason Greenwood to add the sort of predatory skills that would deliver an extra five or six goals a season. Ighalo staying would also lessen the need to bring in another striker and add greater purchasing power to the delivery of other targets.
Who has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s best signing? – @Joseftheguy (Twitter)
JC: One word: Bruno. I can’t think of another player who’s been brought in to Manchester United and made such an immediate impact but Fernandes’ arrival reminds me of the effect Zlatan delivered or perhaps Henrik Larsson. But neither of those players were at the peak of their powers. Those behind the scenes at Old Trafford are convinced we’re yet to see the best of Bruno Fernandes, that there’s a lot more to come, and while his personal performances have been high quality, what no one could predict was the knock-on effect he’d have for those players around him. Fernandes’ signing is more evidence that the club are starting to get their recruitment right and during this period of lockdown, Bruno has certainly made it more fun playing as Manchester United on FIFA!
Do you think United will sign Harry Kane this summer? – @Aekavin7 (Twitter)
JC: They’re certainly big admirers of Harry Kane and have had conversations in the past about trying to bring the Spurs striker to Old Trafford but Daniel Levy is someone who’s proved to be a tough negotiator and not someone who’s easy to deal with. I think if Manchester United were given any encouragement that they could sign Harry Kane then they’d certainly look very seriously at it, imagine him playing alongside Rashford and Martial with Fernandes and potentially Pogba providing him with opportunities. Kane would cost an awful lot of money and while United could afford it, right now they might be better using those funds to strengthen two key areas of need, right-wing and centre-back.
Who is more of the priority for Manchester United in terms of midfield out of Jack Grealish and James Maddison? – @AmarDudwall (Twitter)
JC: It’s an interesting debate, both have shown they have the quality to be Manchester United players and also the potential to raise the levels of the current squad. I know both have also been looked at and Grealish, in particular, caught the eye with his performance at Old Trafford in December which was capped off by a goal that had them applauding on the Stretford End. He certainly has the swagger, the belief and the ability to be a real fan favourite in a red shirt. Again, I tend to think that the arrival of any midfielder is dependent on what happens with Paul Pogba, especially because Bruno Fernandes has been such a smash-hit, but Grealish is probably top of the recruitment list should a vacancy arise.
What are the actual chances that Sancho goes to Man Utd? – @nortiz_56 (Instagram)
JC: Manchester United like Jadon Sancho very much and he fits the bill too when it comes to being young, English, exciting and fundamentally someone who could strengthen and fill a position that needs to be properly filled. If you think about the prospect of Rashford, Martial and Sancho as a front three with Bruno Fernandes providing the passes and vision behind them, it starts to look a bit more exciting and you can understand why someone like Sancho answers so many questions. The transfer fee and salary wouldn’t be a problem for Manchester United and when you throw in his friendship with Marcus Rashford it appears to be a deal that has all the ingredients to happen. Before anyone gets carried away, though, one note of caution is we don’t know how this next transfer window will look or how clubs will behave. However, before coronavirus struck, Jadon Sancho would have been top of Manchester United’s target list.
Can we expect more than one signing this summer? – @dan.saunders15 (Instagram)
JC: I’d certainly expect more than one new face to come through the doors at Old Trafford, though, of course, in a sense Bruno Fernandes was a summer signing brought forward to January and what an impact he’s made! Manchester United are vying to bring in 16-year-old Bellingham from Birmingham City but although he’d be part of the first-team squad if he joined, I get the sense that his capture would be something of a bonus and wouldn’t affect other targets. As I’ve already said, I think the centre-back position is one that will need strengthening along with the right-wing spot and any further arrivals will depend on the future of Paul Pogba, who would need to be replaced if he were to leave Manchester United.
Should Daniel James go on a season-long loan? – @_sanalod (Instagram)
JC: I think with Daniel James, his development as a player will be the foremost consideration in what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to do with him next season, but I really don’t think there’s a need to loan him out for him to progress. We all saw the signs of raw talent at the start of the season when arguably he was the only thing for Manchester United fans to get excited about on the back of three goals in his first four games for the club. He was never envisaged as being a first-team regular in only his second season as a professional and I bet right now Daniel James is really getting the benefit of this extended mid-season break as he looked worn out before football was paused. As a player and a person the Welshman’s had a lot to contend with this season, but imagine how much he could learn from someone like Jadon Sancho!
Is there any chance of Kai Havertz and/or Timo Werner moving to Manchester United? – @kendrick_10_ (Instagram)
JC: They’re players that are certainly on the Manchester United radar, their performances and profile mean they’ve been looked at but right now, I get the impression that the focus may well be on other positions and other players. That doesn’t mean that either couldn’t fit into life at Old Trafford but if Jadon Sancho is a primary target then I couldn’t see a scenario whereby Timo Werner arrived too. Equally, I think midfield options look strong, thanks in part to the renaissance of Nemanja Matic and Fred’s development, throw Bruno Fernandes and perhaps even Paul Pogba into the equation and at the moment, I couldn’t see where Kai Havertz would fit. Manchester United have shown signs of improving their recruitment and part of that process is narrowing down options so what I’m suggesting is that if No 1 targets don’t materialise then other options come into play. I don’t think anyone at Old Trafford envisaged signing Odion Ighalo for much of January…
Is Angel Gomes going to sign a new contract? – @romain_prlt (Instagram)
JC: The signs are positive, especially when you consider six of his academy peers have signed new deals in the past 13 months, the most recent of those being Tahith Chong. I’ve watched him play plenty of times for Manchester United’s U23s where Angel Gomes has dominated matches and I know that when he’s got his first-team chances he may not have been in his favoured position, but you have to say those performances have been solid rather than spectacular. He’s still very young, at just 19, but will hopefully recognise staying will aid his development as a player more than leaving. If he does decide to sign the contract Manchester United are offering him, the next decision will be whether Gomes and also Chong would benefit from being loaned out next season and playing regularly.
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