The news that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as permanent manager of Manchester United has kicked the transfer rumour mill into high gear.
United are a club who are consistently linked with hot prospects and top talents making picking their actual transfer targets that much harder to identify.
There is plenty to suggest that Solskjaer may steer clear of signing out and stars of the game in favour of younger players in a model that is becoming increasingly popular with the Premier League’s elite.
That doesn’t mean that United won’t be willing to splash the cash if a top player becomes available.
Here we take a look at five players linked to Manchester United who could wind up being the first to put pen to paper and join Ole’s army.
Yes I know I just said that United will be looking to bring in hot prospects rather than fully fledged stars but this connection is one that just won’t go away.
Unless Zinedine Zidane does a wondrous patch job, Bale’s relationship with Real Madrid, both the club and the fans, appears to be irredeemably shot. The Welshman looks certain to leave the Bernabéu at the end of the season. Bale’s spirit appears to have already left Madrid, which isn’t helping his position with fans.
The question is: why would an ambitious Manchester United squad take on a seemingly flagging star? Well for one thing, he is still very quick and his attack-minded wing play would suit ‘the United Way’ down to the ground.
With Eden Hazard seemingly bound for Madrid it could be time for Bale to return to the Premier League, and he could be doing so in red.
Spanish media have reported that former Liverpool playmaker Phillipe Coutinho could be headed to Old Trafford in a swap deal that would see Marcus Rashford join Barcelona. That is a stunning work of fiction but one that perhaps contains a kernel of truth.
Coutinho has been on Manchester United’s radar for some time. The Brazilian has failed to settle into life in La Liga and could welcome a return to the league that has showcased his best performances.
The little magician is apparently willing to risk the wrath of Liverpool fans by joining their hated rivals, but as good as he can be it is hard to envision him slotting seamlessly into United’s shape.
The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho would make an ideal first signing for Solskjaer as he ticks all the boxes on the Manchester United transfer checklist.
Sancho has already shown that he has the kind of attitude prized by United. He showed tremendous courage in choosing to sign his first senior contract with a Bundesliga club, a move that paid off and has seen him showcase his skills in the Champions League and earn an England call-up.
As a right-winger Sancho will provide strength to a problematic area for Solksjaer’s team but Dortmund have no interest in selling a player whose potential is obvious to anyone who has seen him play.
By switching his national team allegiance to England Declan Rice has put himself on United’s transfer radar. It has been reported that Solskjaer has given Ed Woodward a mandate to prioritize the acquisition of young English talent.
The versatile West Ham defensive player is up for sale if the price is right according to current boss Manuel Pellegrini, who is well aware that all of the big dogs are sniffing around for Rice.
He controversially chose to switch allegiances from Ireland to England and made his debut in the Euro 2020 Qualifiers played during the recent international break.
Capable of playing as both a centre back and defensive midfielder, Rice could potentially free up Paul Pogba to roam further forward in United’s midfield.
With Jadon Sancho set to cost upwards of £100mil, Callum Hudson-Odoi offers a fantastic cut-price option with Chelsea willing to consider offers of in excess of £50mil for the winger.
Hudson-Odoi seems to have impressed everyone except Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri and even with Europe’s elite buzzing round he is apparently set to be offered £100k per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.
The exciting young player has yet to earn a Premier League start under Sarri and has been linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich but the prospect of first team football at a club like United could be a carrot too juicy for the wing to resist.
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