DANNY MURPHY: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to break the bank for Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Declan Rice if Manchester United want to close the gap on City and Liverpool… this summer will be crucial
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must break the bank if he wants to improve Man United
- The Manchester United boss has steadied a rocky ship since the turn of the year
- Now he must focus on closing the gap between his club and City and Liverpool
- United should sell Paul Pogba and David De Gea to free up funds for transfers
- With at least £260m, they can buy Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Declan Rice
It’s going to be a crucial summer for Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has impressed me in the manner he’s steadied a rocky ship, now the club need to take a forward step to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City.
That doesn’t mean a radical overhaul because they already have good players at Old Trafford. Three top-quality signings in key positions could make all the difference moving them to the next level.
Imagine if Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Declan Rice were at United? They’d be in good shape to compete for any trophy.
It’s going to need to be a crucial summer at Old Trafford if Man United want to close the gap
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has steadied a rocky ship and now they must focus on the future
I understand those three, even if they were desperate to join United, would cost at least £260million. But sacrifices could be made to help raise the funds.
I think Paul Pogba wants to leave so selling him could work for all parties. David de Gea is a top goalkeeper but United have a ready-made replacement in Dean Henderson, who was lauded by Watford’s Ben Foster when I spoke to him last week.
Some United supporters are still sceptical Solskjaer is the right man but I think the hardcore of matchgoers are behind him. They see the improvements even without Pogba and Marcus Rashford. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes has added fun and creativity.
Yet compare United with their opponents on Sunday, Manchester City. Pep Guardiola can choose between Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden in attacking positions, with Leroy Sane on his way back.
United are still far behind Liverpool and City but a strong summer could see them challenge
United are relatively light in numbers and world-class starters.
Anthony Martial has talent but isn’t a centre-forward to be relied on every week. Rashford’s best position is wide where he can face play and use the trickery that allows him to get past defenders.
Given that Erling Braut Haaland chose Borussia Dortmund, I’d break the bank for Kane even though he’s injured at the moment.
I don’t think a hamstring represents a risk like a cruciate would. He’s as close to a guarantee for scoring goals as you’ll find in the game and, the way he lives his life and conducts himself, he’ll keep going.
Kane would cost £100m and so would Sancho at Dortmund. But they have the quality United require to make the next jump. If they had a front three next season of Sancho, Kane and Rashford with Martial, Dan James and Mason Greenwood in reserve, it would be a strike force befitting a big club.
United simply must break the bank to sign Tottenham captain Harry Kane in the summer
Mentioning West Ham’s Rice might surprise people, but he has established himself as a Premier League regular and won England caps in central midfield — at the age of 21.
I liken him to Jordan Henderson because of his athleticism, power and attitude. Henderson improved every season and is now a Champions League-winning captain. Rice is on a similar path.
Having a really top midfield holder to protect the back-four is important in the modern game. It’s why Manchester City spent a club-record £65m on Rodri. United have Nemanja Matic but Rice will be around for the next decade. He’d allow Fernandes and Scott McTominay to express themselves.
Pogba is a wonderful footballer but it might be in United’s interests to cash in and use the funds elsewhere.
Defensively, United are in good shape. They’ve been linked with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly at £80m but I don’t know if he’s a priority. United have Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, and don’t forget Chris Smalling who has excelled on loan with Roma.
Sunday’s game is a serious test for United. City keep the ball better than any team in the country and I can see the end of Solskjaer’s nine-game unbeaten run.
But it won’t alter my opinion that the manager has done enough this season to be backed with major signings.
They should go for England pair Declan Rice (second left) and Jadon Sancho (second right)
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