Manchester United have had a problem on the right wing for a number of years, going back to when Antonio Valencia, previously the club’s Player of the Year and an inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year, was repurposed as right-back around 2015.
Since then, a number of players have tried and failed to make it their own, through either a lack of quality or simply being the wrong fit for the role. Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed brief promise, only to be let go, while Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira have all fallen short.
United need a versatile and incisive player with plenty of pace and intensity who can complement Anthony Martial in the centre and Marcus Rashford on the left next season.
It is probably the club’s most pressing need in the transfer market right now, so 90min's here to take a look at five wide options United could realistically target…
90min first told you as far back as September that United are confident of signing Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho - who is already friends with Rashford off the pitch - and will pay what it takes to sign the rising England star.
It was later reported in Germany that Sancho is expected to leave Dortmund ahead of next season, while Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has since also conceded that the Bundesliga side will not stand in the player’s way if he wishes to leave.
90min also reported that United think they have done enough to sign him, with all signs pointing to a scenario where Sancho is a United player next season.
The number seven shirt is available for him, while even the postponement of Euro 2020 by 12 months could be beneficial; as a strong tournament could have seen his price rocket.
Potential price: £100m-£120m
If, for whatever reason, United are unable to complete a deal for Sancho, the club may have to start considering other options. Young talent ripe for long-term development will be the preference.
United have already been linked this season with a move for Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka, who has made a significant impact since breaking into the Gunners’ first team in September shortly after his 18th birthday.
Saka has impressed with his attitude and maturity for a player so young and raw, even admirably filling in at left-back for Arsenal since December. He has contributed nine assists in 29 appearances in all competitions to date, while scoring three goals of his own.
While left-footed, modern wingers are nothing if not versatile, with switching sides during games a way for attackers to try and stay one step ahead of defenders.
As things stand, Saka is under contract at Arsenal until 2021 and is yet to agree an extension.
Potential price: £30m–£40m
Still only 20, Dwight McNeil has made a significant impact since his first-team breakthrough at Burnley last season and leads the Clarets in assists in the Premier League this campaign.
Like Saka, McNeil is left-footed. But, again, versatility and the ability to switch sides with Marcus Rashford, who will primarily start from the left, to keep opponents guessing is important.
Having actually been part of United’s academy until the age of 14, he cites Old Trafford legend Ryan Giggs as the player he has modelled his game on. That much is clear from McNeil’s direct style of play, one that would surely fit Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s tactical system.
“I used to watch everything [Giggs] did,” McNeil told The Guardian in 2019. “Direct dribbles past people, crosses, goals, leadership, I just lapped it up. I was a United fan anyway…[but] every time United bought someone exciting or new, I just stuck with Giggs all the way through.”
Potential price: £30m–£40m
This season more than ever, Adama Traore has started to realise the potential that previously made him one of the most talked-about young talents in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
The 24-year-old Spaniard’s pace has made him one of the most devastating players in the Premier League for Wolves, who bought him from Middlesbrough in 2018. He has added end product that previously lacked, scoring as many goals this season alone as in the previous three combined.
Traore also has seven Premier League assists to date this season, which is more than Daniel James, Jack Grealish and Mohamed Salah (all 6).
90min revealed in January that Manchester City have asked to be kept informed of any developments regarding his future, with Liverpool and Barcelona also interested. In the same report, 90min additionally explained that Wolves will not accept less than £70m.
Potential price: £70m–£80m
A few injury problems aside, French winger Allan Saint-Maximin has had an encouraging debut season in the Premier League since joining Newcastle from Nice last summer.
The 23-year-old doesn’t have the statistics to back up his promise just yet compared to some of the Premier League’s other wingers, but his speed, unpredictability and versatility to play on either flank could make him an asset to any squad in the division in time.
“I learnt to play on the street,” Saint-Maximin told the Daily Telegraph a few months into his Newcastle career. “When I get the ball, I want to beat my man, dribble, to play with freedom, to express myself. In academies, they train, one touch, two touch. I was brought up differently.”
Last month, the player also told The Athletic that it was his dream to move to the Premier League, while away from the pitch he prioritises family life over a party lifestyle.
Potential price: £35m–£45m
Winger featured in 90min’s list of ‘5 Positions Man Utd Need to Strengthen – Summer 2020’ – click to take a look at the other positions discussed and who the club could sign in each.
Source : 90min