Manchester United’s Premier League season hangs in the balance at the halfway point, sitting seventh in the table but with a game in hand on the leaders.
Clubs falling just short of their high expectations are often the busiest in the January window, looking to secure a few difference-makers without upsetting the balance of the squad. Manchester United falls firmly in that category, and manager Ralf Rangnick now has a number of big decisions to make.
Rangnick will need to decide not just whom to bring in, but who can leave, with the club looking to secure the futures of a few players who have seen less time this season. Room will be needed to bring in any reinforcements, with the squad already somewhat bloated.
In addition, a number of players don’t seem to fit Rangnick’s established 4-2-2-2 tactical setup and that much was evident in the club’s year-opening home loss to Wolves. It remains to be seen how much long-term influence the German interim boss has with the board, potentially asking for players to depart or arrive that fit his style.
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Below is the updated list of Manchester United player transactions during the January 2022 transfer window, the updated squad list and the rumors and reports involving the Red Devils:
Man United Transfers: January 2022 winter window
|Jan. 7||Axel Tuanzebe||CB||24||Napoli||Loan (Fee: $680,000)|
Man United squad 2021-22
Below is the updated Manchester United first-team roster. Any new additions during the January 2022 window will be noted in bold:
Goalkeepers (4): David de Gea, Lee Grant, Tom Heaton, Dean Henderson.
Defenders (9): Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, .
Midfielders (8): Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek.
Forwards (9): Edinson Cavani, Tahith Chong, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho,
The current Man United projected first-choice starting lineup, when completely healthy, currently looks like:
Man United projected starting XI (4-4-2, left to right): De Gea (GK) — Shaw, Maguire, Varane, Dalot — Fred, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford — Ronaldo, Cavani.
Man United back-ups: Henderson (GK), Jones (CB), Lindelof (CB), Bailly (CB), Telles (LB), Wan-Bissaka (RB), McTominay (CM), Matic (CM), Van de Beek (CM), Mata (CM), Lingard (CAM), Greenwood (CF), Martial (CF), Sancho (LW), Elanga (LW), Diallo (RW), Chong (RW).
(GK = goalkeeper; CB = center back; LB = left back; RB = right back; CM = central midfielder; CAM = attacking midfielder; CF = center forward; LW = left wing; RW = right wing)
Man United transfer rumors & news
Here’s the latest on the Man United transfer front based on reports across Europe:
Pogba’s status: Latest updates
Paul Pogba‘s standing at Manchester United has been the source of constant speculation. The French midfielder has never seemed to truly settle in Manchester since joining in the summer of 2016, but speculation is brewing now more than ever as his contract expires this summer and to this point no movement on a new deal has developed.
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At 28 years old, Pogba is still in his prime, and although a hamstring injury has derailed his season so far with just nine Premier League appearances, he would be a hot commodity on the market. Manchester United has a decision to make between keeping him through the end of the season for a Champions League push, or pulling the trigger in January to get something over nothing. Pogba is back in training and could return to action with Manchester United soon, and if he proves a difference-maker that could swing the narrative.
Is it time for Manchester United to offer Paul Pogba a new contract? 🤔✍️
The Transfer Talk team discuss the midfielder’s future following his return to training yesterday. 🔴 pic.twitter.com/nEYuv4yfPq
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 18, 2022
A report from ESPN states that Pogba at this point is likely to stay at Man United through the expiration of his contract, and it seems the most likely scenario is a return to Juventus in the summer.
More recently, according to French paper L’Equipe, Pogba’s stance on his Red Devils future continues to “fluctuate” as his feelings regarding interim manager Ralf Rangnick are mixed. It’s possible that the club’s eventual hire of a permanent boss could be critical in deciding Pogba’s future at the club.
Is Man United shopping for a new forward?
Striker doesn’t appear to be a position of need for Manchester United, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, and Mason Greenwood all holding down the position well, but that doesn’t stop the rumors from swirling.
According to Spanish tabloid Fichajes, the Red Devils could be a player for Leeds United attacker Raphinha, who is having a stellar season. With eight goals and an assist in 17 Premier League matches, the 25-year-old Brazilian has also drawn interest from Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, meaning Man United would have stiff competition.
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Spanish publications have tabbed Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele as a possibility for Manchester United in the past few days. With his contract expiring in the summer, Dembele has been looking for a new home, reportedly rejecting multiple contract offers from the club. Barcelona could try to sell this winter if a club wants to pony up to acquire Dembele before he signs a pre-contract agreement for the summer. According to Sport in Spain, Dembele has been offered to United for about $25 million, and according to Mundo Deportivo, the club has “real interest” in a deal. With Dembele’s recent banishment from the Barcelona squad, Sport now reports that Man United is interested in Dembele, but they do not wish to pay a transfer fee and would only sign him on a free, which would free Barcelona of his wages.
It was never meant to be a winter deal, but a report by ESPN’s Mark Ogden in late January indicate that Manchester United is out of the Erling Haaland race, with Real Madrid leading the way.
Will Man United offload dead weight?
The Manchester United squad is currently bloated with a number of fringe players who are desperate for more playing time. It’s possible that United is a seller in the January market as a result.
Ralf Rangnick has a problem on his hands, as playmaker Bruno Fernandes is reportedly unhappy with life at Old Trafford, centered around failed contract talks. The report states that Fernandes is unhappy that he’s being paid well below many of the other United stars despite proving he is a central figure for the club on the field. He has apparently put negotiations for a new deal on hold until the summer. After scoring twice against Aston Villa, Fernandes could be pushing for a January exit, according to English publication Express. The Daily Mail was less concerned, stating the club is “relaxed” on the sitaution and confident that Fernandes will sign a new deal.
Anthony Martial has completed a move to Spanish side Sevilla, with a very public desire to leave now approved by his parent club. The deal is a short six-month loan, with Sevilla reportedly paying most of his salary, and Martial also agreeing to a wage reduction to faciliate the move.
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Plenty has happened since Newcastle first showed interest in Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard, who has been looking for a way out all winter. A report from the Manchester Evening News indicated early interest, but Manchester United has played hardball. According to a report by Rob Dawson of ESPN, Manchester United wants an additional $16 million “survival bonus” agreed to should Lingard help keep Newcastle afloat in the Premier League, with the total cost for Newcastle up over $22 million for just six months of service, according to James Ducker of the Telegraph. Dawson’s report states that Lingard is “furious” that Manchester United is being so difficult with his situation.
Donny van de Beek has been pushed by former Dutch star Raphael van der Vaart to leave Manchester United in a bid to earn more minutes, but to this point no solid rumors have surfaced suggesting he could leave. There are still three more seasons left on his contract which expires in the summer of 2025. Some reports have tabbed him as “stuck” at Manchester United, unable to leave. However, the Manchester Evening News reports that the Red Devils are relaxing their stance, having offered him to Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United on loan, while Wolves is hoping for a more audatious attempt at a permanent deal according to the Birmingham Mail.
Defender Axel Tuanzebe has been recalled from his Aston Villa loan and instead sent out to Napoli on loan, making his debut on January 9. Tuanzebe never got established minutes at Villa Park due to the established central defensive partnership between Ezri Konza and Tyrone Mings, but he would be of use to the Italian side which will miss Kalidou Koulibaly for a month while on AFCON duty. United will also make some money on the deal, which is always a positive. Shockingly, Tuanzebe’s agent accused Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool player, of favoring other Aston Villa defenders because Tuanzebe is a Man United player, calling out the Liverpool/Man United rivalry.
Fellow defender Eric Bailly is apparently a target for AC Milan, who is still yet to replace the injured Simon Kjaer. According to French publication Foot Mercado, Bailly would “welcome a move” to Milan.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson was understandably rumored to be on his way out, but according to the Metro, he will stay the rest of the season and fight for his place. It will be a tall ask, as the England international is stuck behind David de Gea who is back to his best as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe this season.
Other potential Man United reinforcements
The Red Devils appear to be more sellers than buyers in the January window, but there are a few players worth noting who have been linked to the club. The list of names continues to grow by the day, as Manchester United continues to struggle on the pitch.
Spanish outlet Marca has reported that Manchester United is pushing a move for Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara who is out of contract in the summer. The report states that United is looking to get a jump on things and sign Kamara for a reduced fee this winter rather than wait to challenge other clubs for his services in the summer. Marseille could choose to keep him and allow the 22-year-old to leave in the summer for free, however, with the club in a battle for a Champions League place.
A report by Spanish publication El Nacional states that Manchester United had a $70 million bid rejected for Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde. However, for a bid to get made and only one publication to report it calls into question the accuracy of the reporting. Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo also cites Manchester United interest in Barcelona defender Ronald Araújo, whose contract expires in 2023, but with Barcelona building from within at the moment, it remains to be seen how willing they would be to allowing a promising young defender to leave.
A report from Italy on Wednesday morning stated that goalkeeper David Ospina has been “offered” to Manchester United. The future of Dean Henderson is up in the air, leaving United possibly looking for a backup goalkeeper either this winter or in the summer. Ospina’s contract at Napoli expires in the summer, and his agent is reportedly looking for a new home for the Colombian.
Also out of Italy, Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is a new target and could make his way to Old Trafford, according to Italian publication La Repubblica. The 25-year-old is out of contract in 2023, meaning Napoli could look to sell this winter to maximize profits.
New reports indicate that Manchester United is the latest club to chase Brighton youngster Tariq Lamptey, who is a wanted man according to the papers. The Express named United as the latest suitor, with Chelsea and Newcastle also mentioned at various times this winter.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Man United is monitoring the situation with Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, but no official bids have been submitted. Zakaria is a wanted man this winter, and Man United will have plenty of competition if they decide to enter the fray. Word continues to filter down that United is chasing Zakaria, but a summer attempt to sign him on a free is far more likely.
Manchester United have made no bid for Denis Zakaria as things stand. The option has been discussed as he’s appreciated by Rangnick – but there’s still no official bid to Borussia 🔴 #MUFC
More than four clubs are already working to sign Zakaria as free agent in July. Open race. pic.twitter.com/AnffDd1clQ
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 10, 2022
In need of a new holding midfielder to partner with Scott McTominay, rumors have surfaced of late about interest in Ruben Neves, via Sky Sports and others, understandably so after the Portuguese international ran the show in Wolves 1-0 win over United in early January. That would be a fantastic purchase, but Neves is a critical piece of the Wolves squad and is under contract until the summer of 2024 so he is another that would seem more likely to be a summer target than immediately.
According to English tabloids, including the Sun, Manchester United is “preparing the groundwork” for a big-money bid for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. Defensive midfielder is a position of need at Manchester United, especially with Scott McTominay proving himself as a useful No. 8. It’s possible the Red Devils see this as an immediate need and make a push before the summer. Rice’s contract expires in the summer of 2024, so West Ham could be persuaded to take top dollar now. According to a report by football.london, Rice’s transfer fee would push into nine figures.
Reports in Argentina suggest that Manchester United will meet in January with the agent for River Plate striker Julian Alvarez. A River Plate youth product, the 21-year-old has bagged a whopping 24 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions for the Argentine giants, and reportedly has a $23 million release clause United would have to trigger.
There is also talk that Ralf Rangnick could bring midfielder Amadou Haidara over from his former club RB Leipzig, having been the one to secure the 23-year-old’s services at the Bundesliga club to begin with. The speculation comes from comments that RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff made in early December indicating Rangnick “loves” Haidara and that the club is hoping to secure a new contract for the midfielder to ward off Manchester United interest, with a $44 million release clause the club wishes to wipe clean.
A report from Spanish publication Marca states that Manchester United could be in the running to sign Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer. While that wouldn’t bring the defender to Old Trafford until the summer, he is available now to sign a pre-contract agreement with his Chelsea deal expiring in June. The report states that Rudiger would cost around $63 million between salary, bonus, and agent fees.
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