Man Utd: The first six fixtures of the new Premier League season
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Manchester United, if they do manage to get a deal for Raphael Varane over the line, won’t just be signing one of the best defenders on the planet. They’ll also be acquiring a serial winner, just like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani in previous years. And, given how this is a very young Red Devils side, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer considers that to be key.
Manchester United have made solid progress ever since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager back in December 2018.
But, with no trophies to show for their efforts so far, the Red Devils are determined to take action this summer as they look to end their wait for the Premier League title.
In recent years, United have gone for serial winners. Players with glittering CVs, from Europe’s biggest clubs, have all touched down.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was the first, touching down at Old Trafford after being deemed surplus to requirements at Bayern Munich. For Louis van Gaal, he was a midfield maestro with the talent to take his team to the top.
Ultimately, that didn’t happen.
But Schweinsteiger was still a good presence at United, lending his wisdom to the younger players in Van Gaal’s, and then Jose Mourinho’s, squads.
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In 2016, Mourinho then signed a serial winner himself. Ibrahimovic arrived from PSG, promising to bring substantial things to the Premier League.
And the Sweden international, most certainly, didn’t disappoint.
Ibrahimovic only spent 18 months at Old Trafford but won round both the fans and his team-mates, scoring 28 goals during his sole season at the club.
The veteran, still going strong at AC Milan, also brought a winning mentality to Old Trafford – with the club winning the Carabao Cup and Europa League trophies during his spell there.
So happy were United with Ibrahimovic, they offered him a contract extension at a time where his playing days were on the line following a serious knee injury.
Yet they ultimately decided to let him leave for LA Galaxy, believing they’d coaxed all they could from the veteran.
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Then, just last summer, United signed Cavani.
Having originally intended to snap up Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, they were left scrambling for a world-class alternative. A tall order given the little time they had left.
But Solskjaer, believing the likes of Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all needed a mentor, insisted on the signing of Cavani.
It took the Uruguay international a little time to find his feet in the Premier League, especially having barely played prior to his move to the Theatre of Dreams.
But Cavani enjoyed an outstanding end to the campaign, clocking up 17 goals across all competitions – with only Rashford and Bruno Fernandes finding the net more.
All three players had medals aplenty.
Schweinsteiger won eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokal trophies, a UEFA Champions League crown, a FIFA Club World Cup and a UEFA Super Cup title prior to joining.
Ibrahimovic waltzed in the door having won league titles in Italy, Spain, France and Holland.
And Cavani had clocked up titles aplenty during his time with PSG, enhancing his reputation as one of the best forwards on the planet in the process.
Now, United are hopeful Varane can be the latest trophy specialist to arrive at the club. What’s more, a deal is looking increasingly likely.
It emerged last week that the Red Devils already had a ‘total agreement’ with the World Cup winner about a move, even if staying at Real Madrid isn’t entirely or unequivocally out of the question.
United are growing increasingly confident, with Real Madrid talks advanced at the current moment in time.
And Varane himself is eager to make the move, feeling he’s won all he can during a glittering decade with Los Blancos.
For Solskjaer, the 28-year-old is the key to Premier League title glory.
A world-class partner for Harry Maguire, two years after the England international arrived from Leicester, may be the ticket to the trophy the club want most.
And if he can be half as good as Ibrahimovic and Cavani were during their spells in Manchester, Solskjaer’s side will certainly be onto a winner.
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