Wednesday 18 September 2019

Nemanja Matic says Manchester United must buy quality this summer as club targets five new signings

Manchester United's Nemanja Matic in transfers warning. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United's Nemanja Matic in transfers warning. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

Nemanja Matic has warned Manchester United need quality signings this summer if they are to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League, as the midfielder admitted the club's trophyless campaign has cranked up the pressure for next season.

Manager Jose Mourinho ideally wants to bring in five players this summer, but knows the truncated transfer window, compounded by the month-long World Cup, will reduce the time to complete deals and make acquiring such numbers increasingly difficult. They include two full-backs, a centre-half, a midfielder and a winger.

The United boss will also be under pressure to offload peripheral players, such as Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind, to accommodate space on the wage bill and avoid a bloated squad.

If Marouane Fellaini fails to agree a new contract, Mourinho would be left needing two midfielders following the retirement of Michael Carrick, a scenario which could impact on plans to strengthen elsewhere.

Defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup final ensured United finished without a trophy and the prospect of Liverpool winning the Champions League against Real Madrid on Saturday would be another kick in the teeth to Mourinho, after a campaign in which he has seen the club's other biggest rival, Manchester City, run away with the title.

"I think we need some players with some experience to bring some more qualities to our team," Matic said. "After that we can fight for the title and the Champions League also."

Asked if the Chelsea defeat had increased the pressure for next season, the United midfielder added: "Of course, this is football. When you don't win one year, the next year is always more pressure. When you play for Manchester United, this is a normal thing."

United are working on a deal for Fred, Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazil midfielder, who City tried to sign in January. City are thought to have now turned their sights to Jorginho, the Napoli and Italy midfielder, which could assist United's pursuit of Fred, although Shakhtar want £60 million.

United have also been linked with left-backs Alex Sandro, of Juventus, and Tottenham's Danny Rose, as well as Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld, Chelsea winger Willian and Real Madrid centre-half Raphael Varane. Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri has been offered to all the Premier League's top six.

However, Mourinho's chequered record in the transfer market since taking over at Old Trafford does not inspire confidence and the manager must address a series of issues within his existing squad.

Victor Lindelof has endured an unconvincing debut season since his €35 million move from Benfica last summer and was omitted from the Cup final squad altogether.

Another centre-half, Eric Bailly, a £35 million recruit from Villarreal in 2016, has been strangely frozen out since returning from a long injury lay-off and has made just five starts since February, despite being widely regarded as the best defender at the club.

Left-back Luke Shaw has never won Mourinho's trust and his future is shrouded in uncertainty with his career at a crossroads.

Paul Pogba's form has plummeted since the turn of the year and it cannot be discounted that Mourinho would consider cashing in on the France midfielder if Paris St-Germain made a huge offer.

Anthony Martial's relationship with Mourinho is also strained and Juventus head a queue of clubs, including Spurs, who are interested in signing the France forward.

"I'd like to think he'd stay," Paul Scholes, the former United midfielder, said.

"Whether his manager quite fancies him I'm not too sure. He's not shown too much confidence in him. Martial's a really good talent. Every time he comes on he impresses me."

Other changes are also expected behind the scenes, with Mourinho due to hire Italian fitness coach Stefano Rapetti from Sampdoria in the wake of Rui Faria's departure. Rapetti worked with Mourinho at Inter Milan.

Fermanagh's Kieran McKenna, United's U-18 coach, could also be promoted to the first team set-up. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport