Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now addressed the most glaring issue within his Manchester United squad, but one more arrival could complete a summer overhaul.
The Red Devils slumped to a hugely disappointing sixth-place Premier League finish last season, missing out on qualification for the Champions League as a result.
Jose Mourinho oversaw the first half of the campaign before being sacked in December, with the team sitting 12 points adrift of the top four, which led to Solskjaer’s appointment on an interim basis.
The Norwegian boss initially masterminded a thrilling resurgence, securing 15 wins from his first 17 games in charge across all competitions, but results took a turn for the worst after he was rewarded with a permanent three-year contract in March.
United won just two of their final 12 matches, slipping out of contention for major trophies amid a worrying loss of form and fitness among the squad’s key performers.
Mourinho publicly voiced concerns over the team’s defensive problems before his departure and in the end, he was proved right, as the Red Devils conceded more goals than any of their top-six rivals.
United shipped a club-record 54 Premier League goals in total, with only relegated Fulham and Huddersfield posting less clean sheets over the course of the 38-game campaign.
Solskjaer has reacted by making three senior-level signings this summer, effectively addressing the squad’s defensive woes while adhering to a new policy of only targeting young, homegrown talent.
With the August 8 deadline fast approaching there could yet be more transfer activity at Old Trafford, especially after an impressive pre-season which has seen a cloud of gloom lifted.
Daniel James – (Swansea City)
Solskjaer secured the services of Welsh winger Daniel James for £15 million at the start of June, after United successfully negotiated a deal with Championship outfit Swansea – as per BBC Sport.
The 21-year-old has drawn comparisons with United legend Ryan Giggs due to his lightning speed and superb dribbling ability, which he has justified during a handful of eye-catching friendly performances this summer.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – (Crystal Palace)
Solskjaer’s second signing as United manager was English full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who completed a switch from Selhurst Park to Old Trafford for £50 million last month – as per Goal.
The dynamic right-back was a standout performer for Palace in the Premier League last season and he is expected to make a huge impact at Old Trafford after putting pen to paper on a five-year contract.
Harry Maguire – (Leicester City)
One of the longest-running transfer sagas of the last year finally came to end on Monday afternoon, as United announced the world-record signing of England centre-back Harry Maguire.
As per Goal, the 26-year-old left joined the Red Devils from Leicester for £80 million, surpassing Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk as the most expensive defender in the game.
Maguire is the kind of leader United have lacked since the days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, which is why he might just be the most important new recruit to arrive at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013.
Solskjaer might have wanted to keep the core of his squad together ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, but Ander Herrera’s departure has ensured that there is still one major gap to fill before the transfer window closes on Thursday.
United were unable to tie the Spaniard down to an extension at the Theatre of Dreams and he was ultimately allowed to join Paris Saint Germain on a free transfer, ending his five-year stay in Manchester – as per The Guardian.
Herrera was a superb servant for the Red Devils and one of the only successful signings of the lean post-Ferguson years to date, which saw him named the club’s player of the year in 2017.
Former club captain Antonio Valencia also cut ties with United after a decade of service, joining LDU Quito in Ecuador upon the expiration of his contract at Old Trafford.
23-year-old James Wilson has been the only other man to leave the club, moving to Scottish outfit Aberdeen after failing to make the step up to United’s senior squad.
Further transfer activity
Solskjaer may still be sweating over the futures of key duo Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku before the end of the week, with both men still heavily linked with summer exits.
The former has been the subject of interest from Real Madrid since Zinedine Zidane’s return to the club back in March, with United rejecting a play-plus-cash bid which included James Rodriguez last week – as per the Telegraph.
A return to Juventus has also been mooted for Pogba, but he was a prominent figure for the Red Devils in pre-season and supporters will hope he ultimately decides to stay in Manchester for at least one more year.
Lukaku, meanwhile, did not feature in any of United’s five summer fixtures, having been identified as a primary target by Inter Milan.
The Express reports that Juventus are also competing for the Belgian’s signature, but United want to make all their money back on a star they brought from Everton for £75 million back in 2017(fee confirmed by the Telegraph).
United had been in talks over an exchange deal including Bianconeri talisman Paulo Dybala, but the move fell through due to his lofty wage demands – according to BBC Sport.
Should Lukaku indeed end up leaving Manchester, Solskjaer could be left short on options going forward, with only Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood left as natural forward options.
The Guardian states that another Juve star, Mario Mandzukic has emerged on United’s radar, but as he approaches the twilight years of his career at 33-years-old, it is unlikely he would play week in week out at Old Trafford.
Sporting Lisbon playmaker Bruno Fernandes seems the most likely man to join Solskjaer’s ranks, but according to The Sun, United have not yet been willing to meet his £63 million price tag.
Meanwhile, Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been touted as a possible replacement for Herrera in a holding role for the Red Devils and talks over a possible last-minute deal are still ongoing – as per Metro Sport.
It seems as though United could still get at least one more deal over the line before the start of the new season, which may end up being essential to their chances of returning to the Champions League.