Man Utd: Solskjaer urges team to use Europa pain to rebuild
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Manchester United’s penalty shootout defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final has left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a string of problems. The Norwegian boss was denied a first trophy as United manager after David de Gea’s spot-kick was saved.
However, the penalty drama only told half of the story on the night, as United struggled to break down Unai Emery’s resolute side.
Edinson Cavani’s scrappy second-half goal cancelled out Gerard Moreno’s opener in Gdansk.
But neither side were able to create anything in normal or extra time as the tie seemed destined to be decided by spot-kicks.
With the tallies tied at 10 successful penalties each it was De Gea’s miss that ended United’s chances as Villarreal clinched their first-ever major trophy.
Question marks have already been raised about the future of certain United stars ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, with De Gea amongst those linked with a summer exit.
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Solskjaer confirmed in his post-match interview that he wants to bring in new players to strengthen both the starting XI and the wider first-team squad.
He will also have to make some tough decisions about his current players with Donny van de Beek’s place back under the spotlight.
The Dutch international finally secured a move from Ajax in a £35m deal in August 2020 after United failed to get a deal over the line 12 months earlier.
However, despite being a long-term transfer target for Solskjaer, the Norwegian has struggled to find a place for him in his plans.
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The 24-year-old made just four Premier League starts in 2020/21 with bulk of his 15 appearances off the bench coming as late cameos and he remained as an unused sub against Villarreal.
A combination of Solskjaer being unclear on where to play him in his midfield unit, and which players to partner him with, has created a conundrum which neither party appears to have the answer to.
Solskjaer will re-evaluate the situation in the coming months but the signs do not look positive for van de Beek at Old Trafford.
With the United ownership telling Solskjaer he needs to sell before he can buy this summer, van de Beek is one player with a sell-on value.
Despite struggling for minutes in the last 12 months, his price tag has not dipped massively, with United confident of getting around £25m in a sale.
Solskjaer is well-stocked in central midfield ahead of 2021/22, with Paul Pogba set to stay, alongside Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay and rising star Hannibal Mejbri.
If United are unable to generate a suitable fee for the Dutchman, Solskjaer could use him as part of a player-plus-cash deal.
The Red Devils are currently chasing key transfer targets including England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish.
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