According to reports from The Times, Jose Mourinho is focusing Manchester United’s transfer efforts on bolstering the spine of his new starting Xi – with Juventus star Paul Pogba a priority transfer target.
That should be no surprise to Red Devils fans; creating a new, physical and dependable backbone has been a recurring trend throughout the Special One’s managerial career.
Take his second spell at Chelsea, for example. In 18 months, Petr Cech, David Luiz, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres were replaced by Thibaut Courtois, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.
Obtaining one of the top midfielders in world football is certainly a strong start to solidifying the Red Devils’ spine, but lacking firepower up top, quality in the engine room and a long-term partner to Chris Smalling at centre-back, Pogba is by no means the answer to all of United’s problems.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE more signings who’d help bolster the Red Devils’ backbone.
Manchester United need a long-term partner Chris Smalling and the priority candidate remains Everton defender John Stones, one of the most exciting youngsters in the Premier League who Jose Mourinho launched a succession of bids for whilst at Chelsea last summer. The 22-year-old’s playmaking instincts have come under criticism this season but he’d still likely set United back somewhere in the region of £45million.
Once described by Jose Mourinho as the best young defender in the world, the Manchester United boss will be desperate to get his hands on Raphael Varane this summer amid rumours the prodigious centre-back is unsettled at Real Madrid. The France international is already vastly experienced for a 23-year-old, captaining his national team and starting in the 2014 Champions League final, and is developing into the total defensive package. But convincing Los Blancos to sell will be no easy task, with his contract not due to expire until 2020.
Should Manchester United miss out on Paul Pogba, logic suggests their transfer attentions will quickly turn towards Radja Nainggolan. Much like the France international, the Roma star offers box-to-box energy in abundance alongside a sturdy supply of goals, with eleven in Serie A during the last two seasons. Performances for Belgium at Euro 2016 could further convince United to swoop for the 28-year-old, but they face heavy competition from fellow admirers Chelsea.
Adding world-class quality to the top of the spine is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been strongly linked with an Old Trafford switch since confirming his departure from PSG on a free transfer. The iconic Swede is still up there with the best strikers in world football at the age of 34, notching up a career-best 50 goals this season, and having not lost a title race since the 2002/03 season at Ajax, would really set a benchmark for success at Old Trafford.
Gabon manager Jorge Costa has surprisingly revealed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has removed himself from selection because he’s ‘in the process of changing clubs‘, with Manchester United in the frame to snap up the Borussia Dortmund striker. The 26-year-old has established himself as one of the top strikers in world football this season, notching up 39 goals across all competitions, and in terms of pace and power would be perfect for the Premier League. Aubameyang and Ibrahimovic would be some partnership, not to mention Wayne Rooney in behind, but the tabloids value him at a whopping £70million.