Manchester United have spent £40million on a “squad player” in Donny van de Beek and need to make a more high-profile signing this summer, according to former Sunderland and Blackburn defender Michael Gray. Van de Beek has become United’s first signing of this transfer window after signing a five-year deal at Old Trafford. The Dutch star has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising midfielders during his time at Ajax.
But Gray does not think Van de Beek is the type of signing United needed to make.
Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is the top transfer target for the Red Devils but the £108million asking price is proving a stumbling block.
Gray says a deal for Sancho or “another star signing” should have been prioritised over Van de Beek because the midfield is a well-stocked area in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield.
“This is such a big surprise for me that Man United have gone for Donny van de Beek before they’ve actually tried to get Sancho in again or another star signing,” Gray said on talkSPORT ahead of Van de Beek’s arrival.
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“He’s not the star signing I thought Manchester United would actually bring through the door first.
“Is he even a position they need? If you had asked me midway through last season – [Nemanja] Matic was struggling, Fred couldn’t get anywhere near the team, [Scott] McTominay picked up that bad injury – I’d have said ‘yes, he’s a good signing’.
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“But since then Matic has been outstanding, Fred has improved but he’s obviously not for Man United moving forward, and McTominay has come back.
“I think McTominay will be around for the next five or six years, maybe even longer than that, and he can play in that holding midfield role.
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“That’s the position they’ve bought Van de Beek for. He’s 23 years old, he got ten goals last season, he’s 6ft 1in, and he’s a very good signing – as a back-up player.
“That’s what really surprises me, that’s where football is right now, they’re buying a squad player for £40m.
“I think Man United’s first signing of the window should have been the one that got everybody speaking, that star signing, like a Sancho – a player who could have taken them from third to first in the league.
“But Van de Beek isn’t going to change too much at Manchester United as a holding midfielder.
“I think he’ll be a good signing for Manchester United, but he’s not the signing everybody has been waiting for.”
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