Manchester United Need to Show More Ambition in the Transfer Market

Sam Pilger@sampilgerContributing Football WriterJuly 7, 2014

Whatever happens between now and when the transfer window closes at 11 p.m. on September 1 Manchester United have already enjoyed a considerably more profitable summer than last year. 

The summer of 2013 was an unmitigated disaster as United dithered and missed out on a succession of players before finally securing their solitary major signing of Marouane Fellaini with just hours to spare on deadline day.

The United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has learned these painful lessons and already spent a total of £56 million on the immense promise of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera in recent weeks.

This, however, should just be the start for United this summer.

Both Shaw and Herrera are fine signings, but neither are likely to immediately transform United next season.

They are signings to help United regain the Premier League title in 2016 or 2017, not as soon as next season.

Shaw is a bold signing whose attacking flair on the left flank promises to be an asset at Old Trafford for the next 15 years.

With Patrice Evra clearly in decline, United have acted quickly to replace him at left-back with one of England’s best young talents.

But he is just about to turn 19; a dip in form and a period of adjustment would be entirely normal next season.

Ander Herrera is another imaginative and promising signing who has already bolstered United’s alarmingly decrepit midfield.

Hailed as the eventual successor to Andres Iniesta in Spain, Herrera can perform several roles in midfield with his energy, intelligence and overall attacking intent.

But Herrera is moving to a new league and country, with no senior international or Champions League experience and again would need time to settle at Old Trafford.

Manchester United now need to further augment their squad by recruiting several proven and established players.

They need to make a statement and bring in the calibre of player that will start to concern their Premier League rivals.

They did this in 2012 by luring Robin van Persie from Arsenal. They need to do it again. 

Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool will not have been overly worried by the arrivals of Shaw and Herrera. United need players who will make them feared once again.  

In the centre of midfield, the recruitment of Juventus’ Arturo Vidal would fulfil this role.

A strong and technical player, who at 27 is approaching his best years and impressed at the World Cup, Vidal would bring a much-needed presence to this United side.

As reported by Jamie Jackson in The Guardian Vidal is on United’s radar, and Woodward now needs to show the club’s intent for next season by bringing him to Old Trafford.

The United defence is also in urgent need of new recruits.

There remains a gaping hole in the centre following the summer departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

There has been growing speculation, as reported by David McDonnell in The Daily Mirror that United will begin to address this with the signing of Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal.

The Belgian would be an underwhelming, but intriguing, addition.

Vermaelen is still only 28, boasts 47 international caps and has been schooled at Ajax and Arsenal, but at the moment is languishing on the bench at the Emirates. 

United need to be bolder when looking to replace two defensive titans like Vidic and Ferdinand.

While Thiago Silva, Vincent Kompany and Gerard Pique all appear to be settled or out of reach, Mats Hummels at Borussia Dortmund could be a more realistic option for Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

United cannot afford to bodge such an important position and need to capture the cultured Hummels, who is still only 25 and set to represent Germany in the World Cup semi-finals this week.

The final item on United's shopping list should be an attacking player with genuine pace.

While United’s current first-choice attackers Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and especially Adnan Januzaj are certainly no slouches, they don’t possess the raw pace that can really frighten defenders in the modern game.

They do already have some players in Nani and Antonio Valencia who have that in their skill set, but both have become diminished by their erratic form over the last two seasons.

Enquiries should be swiftly made for Alexis Sanchez, Arjen Robben and Marco Reus; this type of direct player with unsettling pace.

United have started the transfer window well with the signings of Shaw and Herrera, but they can’t afford to spend too long feeling smug and self-congratulatory.

There are just under two months of the transfer window remaining, which is more than enough time for United to add the players they so obviously still require: two central defenders, a dominant central midfielder and an attacking player with pace.

At the moment Louis van Gaal will inherit a squad more than capable of lifting United back into the top four.

If United want to rise even higher and return to the summit of English football next season, they need to go forth and be more ambitious this summer. 


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