Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his team are expected to push for homegrown players once they officially buy a 25% stake in Manchester United.
Despite spending a fortune on player transfers over the past few seasons, Manchester United have been struggling on the pitch. They have had decent seasons every now and then, but the Red Devils have failed to touch the heights they did back in the day when Sir Alex Ferguson was their manager.
While the struggle for revival continues, Manchester United fans are hopeful things will soon change as British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is all set to purchase a 25% stake in the club. The INEOS chief has reportedly paid around £1.3 billion to acquire a minority stake in the cub.
Once the partial takeover is complete, the British billionaire will not only have a 25% stake but will also have control of sporting operations at Old Trafford. And, he is expected to make major changes in the club’s hierarchy.
Apart from the changes, Sir Ratcliffe is expected to focus on recruiting homegrown players. Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils have spent millions on transfers but they have only signed seven British players.
Ratcliffe and his team believe that United’s success over the years was based on their strong core of homegrown players. As a result, Manchester United are expected to push for homegrown players once the partial takeover is complete.
On the basis of the Red Devils’ recent performances, The Hard Tackle has identified key areas that need reinforcement and on the basis of rumours, playing style and availability. With that in mind, here is a list of five players Manchester United should target.
Marc Guehi (CB)
Injuries and inconsistency at the back have been a major problem for Manchester United of late. Lisandro Martinez is currently out injured while Raphael Varane has been injury-prone since arriving at the club. Moreover, the long-term futures of Varane, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof are not certain. As a result, the need for a new centre-back is quite clear.
The Red Devils want to sign someone who can help them in the long run, and they have been linked with Marc Guehi over a potential transfer in the upcoming transfer window. Things might not have worked out for the 23-year-old at Chelsea. But he has managed to go from strength to strength since joining Crystal Palace.
Manchester United have reportedly made Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi their top January target. (Football Insider) pic.twitter.com/2qzvpgZUFw
— Transfer News Central (@TransferNewsCen) November 28, 2023
He has become the mainstay of the Eagles, and his performances have earned him a place in the England national team. Guehi is a leader on the pitch; he has already proven himself in the English top flight and would easily fit into the United backline.
The Red Devils have been keeping a close eye on him and have started doing background checks. While United are keen on having him in their ranks, they are not the only club interested. There are other clubs that would love to sign him, and Chelsea are one of them. The Blues are keen on bringing him back to the club, and the player is also open to the idea of re-joining them.
Jarrod Bowen (RW)
Despite spending millions on signing new right-wingers, the position remains a big headache for Manchester United. Jadon Sancho has been dropped from the first team following his public rift with Erik ten Hag, and he will most likely part ways with the club in January.
Meanwhile, Antony has struggled since joining the Red Devils, and Mason Greenwood, who is currently on loan at Getafe, is unlikely to stay at Old Trafford beyond next summer. As a result, they will have to push for a new right-winger.
Rather than going big and spending a fortune on a youngster, Manchester United could sign the experienced Jarrod Bowen, who has been a consistent performer for West Ham United. The England international is only 26, and he still has years of football left in him.
He can directly slot into the Manchester United starting XI, and his recent form suggests that he could do wonders for them. In the ongoing season, he has 12 goal contributions in 16 outings. And, his impressive performances have resulted in interest from Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle United.
While the Red Devils have not been linked with the 26-year-old of late, they were interested in him back in the day. And given the crisis on the right flank, they can surely push for him. Bowen might not be the most exciting player, but he is consistent and more importantly, he is versatile and can feature as a striker as well as in behind a number nine.
Evan Ferguson (ST)
Manchester United broke the bank and forked out £72 million to sign Rasmus Hojlund ahead of the ongoing season. The 20-year-old has since featured in 17 matches for the Red Devils, scoring five goals, all of which have come in the UEFA Champions League.
Hojlund is yet to find the back of the net in the Premier League. While he is a huge prospect for the future, the Danish striker might not have all the answers for them up top. And, with Anthony Martial expected to part ways with the club in the near future, they do need another number nine. So, the Red Devils have been linked with Brighton’s Evan Ferguson.
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) March 28, 2023
The 19-year-old sensation has gone from strength to strength since getting promoted to the Brighton first team in the summer of 2022. He has featured in 45 matches and already has 20 goal contributions to his name. In the ongoing season, Ferguson has scored six goals in the Premier League.
The teenager seems to have all the traits one needs to be a top number nine. He has the physical side of things and has an eye for the goal. Ferguson could compete with Hojlund for a spot in the starting XI, and the Red Devils could even start both of them up top if and when needed.
He could be a great addition to their ranks but once again, they will have to battle it out with Chelsea for his signatures. The Blues have struggled in front of goal at times, and they are in desperate need of a new number nine. While their priority is Victor Osimhen, they are also interested in the 19-year-old.
Jarrad Branthwaite (CB)
Manchester United might have to sign multiple centre-backs over the next two transfer windows. While the priority will be to sign one this winter, they might have to push for another defender in the summer since the long-term futures of Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof are not certain.
Two of them could leave the club by the end of the season and that is when the Red Devils could look towards Jarrad Branthwaite. The 21-year-old has been in sensational form in the last 18 months, and his impressive run has attracted a lot of attention.
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) August 1, 2023
Branthwaite was on loan at PSV Eindhoven last season. He had an exceptional spell with the Dutch outfit and has carried on in a similar fashion post his return to his parent club Everton. He has featured in 14 matches this season and has racked up close to 1300 minutes.
Branthwaite’s performances have attracted the attention of the Red Devils, and they have been monitoring him for a while now. Manchester United feel he could help them in the short term as well as in the long run.
He is a huge prospect for the future, and signing him won’t be that easy as there will be competition for his services. Newcastle United are one of the clubs that could challenge the Red Devils. Eddie Howe is keen on defensive reinforcement and on top of that, the Magpies have targeted young homegrown players of late.
Kalvin Phillips (CM)
Kalvin Phillips playing for Manchester United might not sound right, but there is a possibility it might happen. The Red Devils have previously been linked with him, and he can surely solve quite a few of their problems.
The England international has not had the best of times since joining Manchester City from Leeds United. He has not been able to break into their first team but has managed to keep his place in the England national team.
City were ready to part ways with the 28-year-old in the summer, only for the player to decide to stay and fight for his place in the team. But, nothing has changed, and he still remains way down the pecking order under Pep Guardiola.
As a result, the Englishman is ready to leave the club in the winter, and Manchester City are unlikely to stand in his way. While in normal circumstances a trade between City and United is quite rare, this time around it could take place.
Pep Guardiola recently said that only small clubs worry about selling players to their rivals. This comment suggests he might not have a problem selling Phillips to the Red Devils. And, since the player could be a great fit for the club, Manchester United will surely go after him.
United are not alone in the race for his services, and they will have to battle it out with quite a few clubs. Newcastle United and Liverpool are two Premier League sides who could challenge them till the very end. As a result, it will be interesting to see if the Red Devils can manage to win the race.