Manchester United could be looking a lot different by the time the summer transfer window closes on Aug. 8.
After already signing pacy youngsters Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a combined $83 million, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be enthused to hear about the latest developments regarding two of his other targets.
With Man United on their preseason tour of Australia and the Far East, Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has remained in England to sort out transfer deals and there have been updates on their pursuit of winger Nicolas Pepe and attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes, with both players consistently linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer.
Pepe, 24, lit up Ligue 1 last season as Lille finished second in the table and qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The Ivory Coast winger has just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations and here’s what Lille club president Gerard Lopez had to say about his future at the club.
“For Nico, it is almost done and he could have left last summer,” Lopez said. “It is true that there are big offers and big clubs in for him, so I think [he will leave].”
As for Fernandes, he has spoken to the media ahead of Sporting Lisbon’s trip to New York City to play a friendly against Liverpool on Wednesday and admitted he wants to move to the Premier League.
“I don’t care about the market, I’ve talked about this many times. The only thing I can do now is that I need to catch the plane so I don’t miss it,” Fernandes said. “‘Will this be the last match for Sporting?’ I don’t know, it’s the coach who decides. I told you I’d like to play in England, but that’s not what interests me. It may be when the club decides.”
Sporting’s president Frederico Varandas has said earlier this week that Fernandes will not leave for anything less than $65 million, even though Fernandes has a much smaller release clause in his contract.
There is a clause which Sporting have in his contract which says they can pay Fernandes $6 million direct if they reject any offer over his release clause. So, yeah, that deal is a little more complicated.
As for Pepe, it is believed Lille want around $75 million for the clinical winger and although both Bayern Munich and Liverpool have been linked with a move for him, Man United are now the new favorites to sign him.
Even though United should spend more money on their defensive unit, both of these players bring one main thing: Goals. And plenty of them.
Pepe scored 22 in France’s top-flight last season, while Fernandes, 24, scored 31 times for Sporting Lisbon in all competitions as the Portuguese midfielder had a breakout year.
With a $100 million move for Leicester’s Harry Maguire lined up, plus Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff still courted, Solskjaer is focusing on bringing in players 26 years old or younger.
That is the correct approach as United want to match the intensity of the way Liverpool and Man City play to push themselves back into the top four and return to being perennial title challengers.
As for the rest of their squad, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, for now, are still around, while David De Gea is set to sign a new contract with the Red Devils in the coming days. If Lukaku leaves, which looks likely, then Mason Greenwood seems ready to step in and give Solskjaer yet another attacking option.
Taking into account these possible moves and the signings United have already made, here’s what their matchday squad could look like this season.
Not bad, eh?
Possible Man United matchday squad, 2019-20
—– De Gea —–
— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Shaw —
—– Matic —–
— Pepe — Pogba — Fernandes — Martial —
—– Rashford —-