Manchester United were one of the biggest spenders in the summer transfer window, backing manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to genuinely challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The Reds have been significantly boosted by a series of high-profile signings, with Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo joining for a combined total of £135.3m. The transfer deadline day saw the club complete the sensational signing of Ronaldo from Juventus.
The Portuguese megastar, 36, has been made the highest-paid player in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad by a country mile, as Manchester United could not pass up the opportunity to re-sign him when it became clear that the forward was in talks over a move to cross-town rivals Manchester City.
Solskjaer should be pleased with the business done by the Reds during the summer transfer window and the pressure will now be on him to deliver silverware at Old Trafford, which he hasn’t in his two-and-a-half year’s stay at the club.
While they will be in the hunt for their first Premier League title in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, let’s have a look at the strongest possible United XI with superstar Ronaldo.
The Strongest Possible Manchester United Lineup
Manchester United re-signed Tom Heaton on a free transfer after he was released from Aston Villa at the end of last season. The England international will be the third-choice goalkeeper at Old Trafford behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson.
De Gea and Henderson are basically expected to fight for the no.1 role but the latter’s problems with Covid-19 meant Solskjaer had no option but to start the season with De Gea. The Spanish international has shown signs of getting back to his old self, especially with the double save at Wolves to help United to a 1-0 victory last weekend.
Even after Henderson returns, De Gea is expected to retain the no.1 spot for some time.
The addition of Raphael Varane has lifted the Reds’ defence to a new level altogether. The Frenchman, whose CV needs no introduction, is a top defender and his experience and winning mentality is also going to help Solskjaer’s side. He’s a straight upgrade over Victor Lindelof and will partner skipper Harry Maguire at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence, just as he did at Wolves with the duo keeping a clean sheet.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is arguably the best 1v1 defender in the Premier League and is Solskjaer’s first-choice at right-back. Luke Shaw has been terrific over the last 12 months, both defensively and offensively, and should start at left-back in the United lineup.
Solskjaer has preferred a double-pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay over the best part of the last two seasons, but the arrival of Varane should help United play a high line while giving Solskjaer the option to either go with one of Fred, McTominay or Nemanja Matic in the no.6 role.
In that case, McTominay is a better option than Fred to play as a screener in front of the backline with Paul Pogba in a box-to-box role. Five assists in three games tells one the form Pogba is in at the moment. Solskjaer would hope to see more of the same from the Frenchman when the Premier League resumes after the international break.
Bruno Fernandes has been phenomenal since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon last year and has made the no.10 role his own. Donny van de Beek is an option in that position and could get more game time than last season in cup competitions.
The attack is undoubtedly Solskjaer squad’s biggest strength, and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo has only added more potency to it. Arguably the greatest player of all time, Ronaldo is back in Manchester and certainly not to warm the benches, as claimed by Solskjaer last weekend. The Portuguese superstar is still going strong at the ripe age of 36 and is expected to lead the line.
In Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood, Solskjaer has some really exciting, quick and creative forwards and with domestic as well European cup competitions set to commence this month onward, the Norwegian tactician must rotate them well.
Rashford will be the first-choice left-winger when returns to full fitness and is expected to regularly feature in Solskjaer’s lineup. The Reds spent £73 million to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, and while he’s had a slow start to his Old Trafford career, the young Englishman should end the club’s long search for a right-winger.
Given the form Greenwood is in at the moment—three in three games—it will take a lot of courage from Solskjaer to drop the academy graduate from his starting XI. Greenwood’s versatility will see him enjoy a lot of game time this season, with Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial deemed as back-up options to Ronaldo.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.