What Next for Jose Mourinho's Manchester United in the Summer Transfer Window?
It is fair to say he was stunned by the state of the squad he inherited from Louis van Gaal in 2016. The team was a jumble of players left over from Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and the Dutchman's reigns—and Mourinho made it clear it was going to take time to sort out the mess.
He has never been a fan of the January transfer window, instead preferring early summer business so new faces can integrate and understand his way of working. Alexis Sanchez was an exceptional case—a chance he could not let pass him by. But now Mourinho has committed his future to United, he is beginning to look towards the crucial third summer transfer window of his reign.
He will see it as a chance to finally feel like he has the squad he wants, and if it goes well, he may even be able to compare his chances of success with Pep Guardiola's on the other side of the city.
Here we take a look at some of the names on Mourinho's shopping list as he bids to take United back to the top of English football.
Urgent: Central Midfielder Needed
Anyone who watched United's shocking display in a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday will not be surprised to learn a central midfielder is the club's No. 1 priority in the next transfer window.
They so urgently need a new face in the middle of the park that Mourinho strongly considered ways to fix the problem in January, but he is now left weighing up his options for the rest of the season.
Nemanja Matic's signing was lauded last summer, but he needs someone beside him to help protect the defence. Paul Pogba is not being best utilised when he has to hold himself back, and there are other squad members who are on their way out.
Michael Carrick is likely to make a shift from the playing staff to the coaching staff at the end of the campaign, while Marouane Fellaini's contract expires in June. There is also uncertainty about whether Ander Herrera will remain at the club.
United scouts are convinced he could become a world-beater if he moves to Old Trafford, and he was someone Mourinho seriously thought about trying to sign before the Sanchez deal began to happen.
City have made strong moves for the midfielder recently, but the fact they failed to seal a deal will give United hope.
The Brazil international is keen on the prospect of a Premier League switch in 2018, and there is a belief he would suit English football.
In January, one well-placed source told me he believes there is a "good chance" Fred will arrive in the summer. And that remains the case.
The Battle for Alex Sandro
Left-back has been a problem position throughout Mourinho's reign, with the unlikely figure of Ashley Young emerging as his favourite option.
Luke Shaw has taken strides towards proving he is worth keeping on board, but it seems Juventus' Alex Sandro is going to be the man they try to sign.
He has been on many top clubs' shortlists over the past year and is understood to be open to a move away from Italy.
United know they will have to move fast if he is to join them, although they will be boosted by the fact Chelsea no longer seem to have a need for him after completing a deal for Emerson Palmieri on Tuesday.
Sandro's asking price in the Janauary transfer window was £60 million, but United believe that price tag will drop when the season ends.
A Star for the Future
Mourinho is sometimes criticised for not bringing through young talent, but his club has an eye on one starlet who could become one of Europe's most exciting players.
Justin Kluivert is the son of legendary former Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert and has broken through at Ajax over the past year.
He is 18, yet he has 13 Eredivisie starts behind him this season and has weighed in with five goals and two assists.
Having just signed Sanchez, and with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on board as two of the most beloved players at the club, United are not exactly crying out for a new option on the wing—but Kluivert would be seen as a long-term project.
He is expected to sign a new contract with Ajax soon, but if United do sign him, there is believed to be a potential agreement they would let him remain in the Netherlands to aid his development.
Sources around Amsterdam believe he would command a fee in the region of £20 million.
One More Superstar?
United's transfer windows do not always go to plan—just look at Romelu Lukaku and Sanchez's signings.
Those two players were not high on Mourinho's agenda, yet when the chance came to snap them up, he pounced. That is why we can never rule out the addition of another superstar.
Antoine Griezmann has long been on the club's radar but is also wanted by various other clubs across Europe. Cristiano Ronaldo is linked with a return to Old Trafford whenever his Real Madrid form dips. But Gareth Bale is the man who figures around United believe is the most interesting.
The club wanted him in 2013, the summer he joined Madrid, and Mourinho is on board with them in terms of admiring the Welshman.
Bale has been doing everything he can at the Santiago Bernabeu to ensure he is not remembered as an £85.3 million disappointment, yet with every season that passes, he seems increasingly likely to return to the Premier League.
Contacts close to the player are convinced he will head home for the final big years of his career, and this summer, as he turns 29, could prove to be that time.
If Bale becomes available, United would be part of discussions—even though, on paper, it would seem they don't need him.