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Manchester United 2020/21: Possible Signings - data analysis statistics

Manchester United 2020/21: Possible Signings – data analysis

In a season that has spanned a full calendar year, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United managed to finish third in the Premier League, reach the Emirates FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup semi-final as well as the UEFA Europa League semi-final. Fans have been gutted that United couldn’t get their hands on at least one of the two trophies, as the run-in apart after the restart had been excellent, to put it mildly.

The way the season ended should be a wake-up call to the board and backroom staff in terms of the transfers and in addition to that, they should execute to get United closer to the level of the likes of the City’s and Liverpool’s in the Premier League, and the likes of Bayern and PSG on the continental stage. Since Manchester United have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League, there should be no problem for them to attract top-quality stars to Old Trafford.

In this data analysis, we are going to take a look at the statistics of possible recruits United should try to bring in to improve the squad competitiveness, as well as to maintain the competitive edge to challenge the rest of the super clubs domestically and on the continental stage. The following list states the positions that the club should be targeting a fix for, be it internally or as a recruit. 

Positions that need strengthening – 

  • Goalkeeper – Sorting the first-choice option
  • Left-Back – Potential first choice
  • Centre-Back – First choice and back-up option
  • Central Defensive Midfield – First choice option
  • Central Attacking Midfield – Back-up option
  • Right-Winger – First Choice & a potential back-up option
  • Striker – Back-up option

Goalkeeper

United haven’t had the best of years in goal for the past two seasons, or more particularly, David de Gea hasn’t had the best of years in goal since the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He has appeared to be shaky, making costly errors and has invited criticism to his name that was unthinkable before. After Solskjær handed him a new contract at the start of last season, it only meant that De Gea was about to find his feet as the faith shown in him by Solskjær would help his morale as well as his confidence.

Nothing has changed much in the last 12 months except for the fact that the number 1 jersey is now under threat from Dean Henderson. De Gea has continued to make impressive saves, which almost no other keeper could make, but his errors are starting to cost United in terms of points and not just goals conceded. Henderson’s first season in the Premier League was one which effectively put his name up for contention for a position which was seemingly untouchable two years ago. He helped Sheffield to achieve mid-table security, and the club were at one stage of the season in the hunt for UCL football, before the worldwide lockdown.

David De Gea Dean Henderson
Clean Sheets 13 13
Save% 73.1% 75.2%
Goals Against 36 33
Goals Against/90 0.95 0.92
Minutes Played 3420 3240
Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis
The inner ring indicates De Gea’s Stats, whereas the outer ring indicates Henderson’s stats.

Verdict –

Although cases can be made for and against both the players, it seems feasible that united should allow Dean Henderson a chance to compete with De Gea before he eventually takes over as the first choice. Having competition in the first team for a position that has been shaky over the past few campaigns, may inject the motivation needed for the team to be secure and confident of the man in between the sticks. Dean shouldn’t be loaned out and should be kept in the first team to continue his development as Solskjær and his backroom staff lay out a plan for him to settle into the team sheet on a weekly basis in the long run.

Cost –> Nothing

Left-Back

One of the most unsettled positions in Manchester united backline over the last few years, maybe even since Patrice Evra left-back in 2014, and currently, Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams (who’s naturally right-footed) are vying for the starting spot. If United’s ambition is of some serious weight under Solskjær, they need to invest in someone extremely good, who can compete with Luke Shaw, while Brandon Williams continues his development as the under-study. 

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Nicolas Tagliafico – 27y.o. – Ajax – 28 million eurosAlex Grimaldo – 24y.o. – SL Benfica – 28 million euros
  2. Alex Telles – 27y.o. – FC Porto – 40 million euros
  3. Marc Cucurella – 22y.o. – Getafe – 18 million euros
  4. Diego Rico – 27y.o. – AFC Bournemouth – 8 million euros
  5. Theo Hernandez – 22y.o. – Milan – 32 million euros
  6. Sergio Reguillon – 23y.o. – Real Madrid – 25 million euros

The player profiles of the shortlisted are as follows – 

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict –

Manchester United should be on the hunt for two possible first-choice options from the above analysis, Bournemouth’s Diego Rico and Real Madrid’s Sergio Reguillon. They both stood out in more departments than anyone else, and both players are already proven, and not necessarily a gamble, as Reguillon shone against United in the Europa League semis, and Rico already has Premier League experience. With the added benefit that Reguillon is already on the market, as Madrid are keen on offloading him, and Chelsea already pursuing their move for Chilwell, this could be a bargain for Solskjær. If this move fails to materialize, Rico would be keen for a move away from a newly relegated Bournemouth, and the club would be happy to part with him to help with their finances with the influx of the transfer fee.

After this piece was written, Reguillon moved to Spurs, meaning that Rico is really one of the only alternatives that United can look at. 

Cost –> {(10 – 15) or (30 – 40)} million euros

Centre-Back

Another position that needs attention, but less so, since United’s acquisition of Maguire last summer. United are looking to build their defence around a solid centre back partnership, and are in the market for a centre-back, preferably left-sided, as it would help to accommodate both Maguire and the incoming signing. Lindelof simply hasn’t been good enough, as he seems to be simply not of the level, United are currently aiming to progress, although would constitute an able and capable rotation option, who one day could find his place in the team, and maybe even on the team sheet. 

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Jordan Torunarigha – 22y.o – Hertha BSC – 13 million euros
  2. Moussa Niakhate – 24y.o. – Mainz 05 – 11 million euros
  3. Nico Elvedi – 23y.o. – Borussia Monchengladbach – 28 million euros
  4. Alessio Romagnoli – 25y.o. – Milan – 36 million euros
  5. Alexander Djiku – 25y.o. – Strasbourg – 6 million euros
  6. Luke Shaw – 25y.o. – Manchester United – 22 million euros

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict – 

Luke Shaw excelled this season when he played as a centre-back in a back three last season. Although he is predominantly a left-back, he could, and maybe even should be converted into a centre-back by United. Left-footed, he would already be comfortable playing alongside, as he can sit on the left side of the centre-back pairing. Already sharing a partnership on the left side of the defence, it shouldn’t take much time for either of them to gel as United’s first-choice partnership. If this doesn’t seem all too feasible, United should make a move for Hertha’s Jordan Torunarigha. Young, able, defensively solid, he would be the kind of partner that could continue even after Maguire’s departure later on. He has time to grow and develop, and at a team like United, and with a manager like OGS, it might just be the perfect destination for him.

Cost –> {(Nothing for Luke Shaw) or (15 – 25 million euros for Torunarigha)}

Defensive Midfield

A solid team needs a solid DM. And that is exactly what Manchester United should be in the hunt for. With Matic, already in his 30s, Fred more of a carrier than a destroyer, and McTominay still a few years away from regularly playing as the destroyer, United should be in the market for a DM, who is in his prime and can do the job that’s at hand, right now.

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Joao Palhinha – 25y.o. – Sporting CP – 9 million euros
  2. Hernani – 26y.o. – Parma – 3 million euros
  3. Otavio – 26y.o. – Bordeaux – 6 million euros
  4. Will Hughes – 25y.o. – Watford – 14 million euros
  5. Ellyes Skhiri – 25y.o. – Koln – 6 million euros
  6. Adam Maher – 27y.o. – FC Utrecht – 3 million euros

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict – 

Two transfer options and one in-house option came to light during our analysis, with Joao Palhinha, Will Hughes, and Fred as the three possible options. United should be looking to move for at least one of the two transfer options to bulk up their midfield options before a long and potentially draining 20/21 season. With Fred capable of playing both the carrier and destroyer and Hughes of a relatively similar mould. Palhinha is the more conventional destroyer and would be a like for like replacement for Matic. While Hughes would offer versatility, Palhinha would offer defensive stability.

Cost –> {(Nothing for Fred) or (15 – 20 million euros for Joao Palhinha) or (20 – 30 million euros for Will Hughes)}

Central Attacking Midfield

With Bruno’s acquisition, the club have filled the gaping hole of creativity in midfield for years to come, and are set to create a lethal midfield partnership with Pogba and Bruno getting along very well, on & off the pitch. But they need to bring in cover for him, should he ever pick up an injury or be unavailable due to suspension or when United are rotating their line-ups.

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Mohammed Ihattaren – 18y.o. – PSV Eindhoven – 20 million euros
  2. Quincy Promes – 28y.o. – Ajax – 17 million euros
  3. Rafa Silva – 27y.o. – SL Benfica – 24 million euros
  4. Breel Embolo – 23y.o. – Borussia Monchengladbach – 16 million euros

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict – 

The two Dutchmen are on the opposite end of the age spectrum and offer different things to the attack and creativity to Manchester United. Both are capable, while one is for the long run in Ihattaren, the other might just be the perfect cover and competition for Bruno in Promes. It is very easy to be in a dilemma to secure the present or the future, but both the options individually fulfil at least one criteria that United are supposed to be addressing in terms of squad depth.

Cost –> {(20 – 40 million euros for Mohammed Ihattaren) or (20 – 30 million euros for Quincy Promes)}

Right-Winger

Since David Beckham left the club back in 2004, Manchester United haven’t had a proper out and out right-winger at the club, with Cristiano Ronaldo going onto establish himself as a left-winger or a striker rather than a right-winger. Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all played out wide on the right for the club, but none were able to make that position their own. Valencia was converted into a full-back, Angel Di Maria went onto achieve bigger and better things at PSG after just one season at Old Trafford, and Mkhitaryan was involved in that infamous swap deal for Alexis Sanchez in January.

The need for a proper right-winger was highlighted last season, as United lacked a proper wide player out on the right all season long, with Dan James, Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira all filling in when required, and none of them could make that position their own throughout 19/20.

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Ricardo Orsolini – 23 – Bologna – 20 million euros
  2. Emiliano Buendia – 23 – Norwich City – 14 million euros
  3. Calvin Stengs – 21y.o. – AZ – 18 million euros
  4. Jadon Sancho – 20y.o. – Borussia Dortmund – 120 million euros
  5. Federico Chiesa – 22y.o. – Fiorentina – 48 million euros
  6. Marcus Edwards – 21y.o. – Vitoria Guimaraes – 13 million euros
  7. Domenico Berardi – 26y.o. – Sassuolo – 19 million euros

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

 

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict – 

Three stand out options in Domenico Berardi, Federico Chiesa and Jadon Sancho have been concluded, and all three make cases for themselves. Domenico Berardi is about to hit his prime and would be the cheapest option but a proven player, as he has been playing regular top tier football for over since 13/14 and has been consistently putting in his shifts. Federico Chiesa has already been touted as a Sancho alternative and with good reason. Young, versatile and very capable of contributing both goals and assists, and it will only improve if he is surrounded by better players. Sancho’s stats make the case for him, already an elite forward, he looks very likely to challenge Mbappe or Haaland in the years to come for the title of the best player in the world. His quality doesn’t need any introduction as it’s pretty evident by now as to how good he is and how much better he just might go on to become.

Cost –> {(20 – 30 million euros for Domenico Berardi) or (50 – 60 million euros for Federico Chiesa) or (close to 120 million euros for Jadon Sancho)}

Striker

Finally, Martial broke the hattrick duck for Manchester United strikers, as he got his first, and the first in seven years for any Manchester United player to have hit a hattrick for the club, since a certain Robin Van Persie. United’s number 9 problem seems to be resolved, as Martial responded emphatically to receiving his number back at United. But United need a deputy for that role. Greenwood may be the biggest talent to have made it to the first team since Rashford, but he can’t be expected to fill in every time United decide to give Martial a rest, or when he is out injured for a while. United need a proper second choice ahead of greenwood, because excess football from a young age could exhaust him prematurely, and drain him of his abilities way before he is expected to hit his prime, not to mention the exposure to possible injuries he might suffer from weekly football.

The following players were assessed vigorously before we picked out the best option in our opinion.

  1. Donyell Malen – 21y.o. – PSV Eindhoven – 25 million euros
  2. Patrick Schick – 24y.o. – Roma – 25 million euros
  3. Luis Muriel – 29y.o. – Atalanta CF – 15 million euros
  4. Mason Greenwood – 18y.o. – Manchester United – 45 million euros

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Manchester United: 20/21 - Recruitment Analysis

Verdict – 

Luis Muriel, is arguably the best choice for a back-up to Martial should he choose to move to Old Trafford. He has played in different systems, styles, and formations across his career, and would be a valuable option when United need to experiment or rotate the eleven. He has the poaching ability and is good with the ball at his feet. He adds a different layer to United’s attack, that could just be the spark that helps the attack. He would also aid the development of Greenwood and Martial as they take the necessary steps to come into their own over time.

Cost –>20 – 25 million euros for Muriel

Conclusion

Final Picks according to our data analysis 

  • Left-Back – Diego Rico – 15 million euros
  • Centre-Back – Convert Shaw, and bring in Torunarigha as competition – 20 million euros
  • Defensive-Mid – Bring in Joao Palhinha – 15 million euros 
  • Centre-Attacking-Mid – Bring in Mohammed Ihattaren – 25 million 
  • Right-Wing – Bring in Jadon Sancho/Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi – 120 million euros/ (50+22) million euros 
  • Striker – Bring in Luis Muriel – 22.5 million euros

Total cost = 217.5 million euros/ 169.5 million euros