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Owen Hargreaves wants Manchester United to make three signings in the summer transfer window in Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and either Raphael Varane or Marquinhos after their Europa League final loss to Villarreal. After a 1-1 draw after extra time, United were downed 11-10 on penalties in Gdansk, Poland.
David de Gea was the only one of 22 players to miss their spot-kicks as all 11 Villarreal players, including goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, scored from 12 yards out.
It was another gutting blow in cup competitions for United who had been knocked out in the same tournament at the semi-final stage last term, also suffering final-four disappointment in the Carabao Cup twice and last year’s FA Cup.
United crashed out of this year’s FA Cup to eventual winners Leicester and to League Cup champions Manchester City having also crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co.’s Europa League final misery means United go a fourth successive season without a trophy and takes shine away from their progress in the Premier League.
The Red Devils had finished second to Manchester City, as they make forward steps in bridging the gap to Pep Guardiola’s side although they finished 12 points behind their title-lifting neighbours.
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And ex-United midfielder Hargreaves insists it is a vital summer off the season for his old club as he backed Solskjaer to go out and sign three players in the centre of defence, the centre of midfield and out wide on the right in attack in Real Madrid’s Varane or Marquinhos of PSG as well as West Ham’s Rice and Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho.
Hargreaves told BT Sport: “If they had won, that might have papered over the cracks and maybe you don’t really go out and get [signings].
“But now Ole might think they need three or four. That game, it needed someone to come on and make a difference.
“United have been a long way off at times over the last few years, I actually think they’re only three players off.
“I think all they need is a centre-back, a central midfielder and a right winger. For me, that’s all they need.
“That will cost you a few quid, but the fact of the matter is, when you know exactly what you need, it’s easier to go out and get it, whoever that’s going to be.
“If they can do that this summer, Sancho, Varane or Marquinhos, or Declan Rice, there are targets there that can make that United team better.”
Discussing United’s signings last summer, Hargreaves pointed out than neither Donny van de Beek or Amad came off the bench for them against Villarreal.
“Recruitment, Van de Beek didn’t come off the bench, Amad, that’s about £80m there,” he noted. “When they spend money this summer, they’ve got to get guys who can come on and change the game for them.”
While legendary ex-United centre-back Rio Ferdinand agreed and said: “This window is massive, it’s a massive window for Man United now.
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“The recruitment team, the owners, the CEO, the manager, the staff need to go out and recruit the right players that fit the bill, to take this team from getting to finals and can’t get over the line, to finishing the job.
“It needs to be the right people, the right characters, and good enough players that add value to this team. For instance, we always talk about [Virgil] van Dijk being the catalyst for Liverpool over the last few years.
“What had he won in England before? He was at Southampton, they weren’t fighting for titles or in Europe. It’s the right characters, the right people who fit the team, the right profile to take you on and make the team better.”
Solskjaer reflected post-match: “There’s two ways. You can feel sorry for yourself and go on holiday and don’t do anything about it.
“Or you can go home and do something about it and come back even better, stronger, more hungry, ready from the first minute because we know that we didn’t start this season great.
“We fell behind, too far behind to be challenging for the league so we need to start really well.
“We need to work better, work harder, cleverer, but, as I’ve said, two or three players to strengthen the starting XI and the squad all together [is important].
“It’s important for us to go even further because I’m sure our contenders or challengers will also challenge to improve so we want to improve as much as we can.”
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