Remember when Man City paid £50 million for Kyle Walker and no one could quite believe that they’d spent so much on a full-back?
Well, United have just spent roughly the same for one with only one full season of Premier League action under his belt. And let’s not forget Walker was England’s first choice back then.
To be fair to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he’s set his stall out this summer and is clearly trying to do something different to his predecessors. Focusing on young, hungry players is exactly what United should be doing and Aaron Wan-Bissaka was arguably one of last season’s top performers in the Premier League.
His stats speak for themselves and to win player of the season in a team so dominated by Wilfried Zaha is an impressive feat.
But the step up is going to be big. The England U21 right-back’s stats are all about the defensive side of his game. Wingers really struggle to get past him, and his positioning is top class. Just those two things are a real improvement from last season’s first choice right-back, Ashley Young.
What may count against him is his rawness. He will make mistakes. A player that young starting at the back always will. It’s how he recovers from them that will shape how he gets on at United. The fans also need to be patient.
Palace were great on the break away from home last season, as were United in the early months under Ole. They would sit back and be fairly solid defensively, using the likes of Zaha to hit teams on the break. Wan-Bissaka fulfilled this defensive role but we didn’t see too much of his attacking ability.
At United, and especially at Old Trafford, he’ll often be the spare man and will be asked to bring the ball forward. His delivery needs to be good and he’ll need to form a good partnership with whoever is in front of him, potentially the other new signing, Daniel James.
If he can do this, United will be a different prospect. He is a converted winger, so the signs are good.
It will be very interesting to see how he gets on in the Europa League. The home games in the knockout stages of the Champions League last season were telling. Both PSG and Barca left Young to be the spare man. His delivery was poor, and he couldn’t influence the game. The new man has to do far better than this in the big games.
You can see how Solskjaer is trying to build the team with a focus on youth. He arrived at the club as a player the year after the turnaround of playing staff that saw the Class of 92 trusted over the elder statesmen that were shipped out.
It makes sense for him to focus on youth, just like Fergie did. But what Fergie always did was keep some older players around and build the core of the team around them.
This is what United don’t have now. And it all starts with a top quality centre-half.
It looks like Harry Maguire will go to City which leaves everything a little quiet on that front. This is worrying. It’s a problem that should have been fixed a year ago. United simply can’t go into another season without a top class centre-back to partner Victor Lindelöf.
At the other end of the pitch word is Romelu Lukaku is on his way to Inter Milan. If United can get close to what they paid for him, this would be a good move. But they have to replace him.
Marcus Rashford has a good claim to start the season as first choice striker, but the simple fact of the matter is he hasn’t scored enough goals in his career as yet. If he can do that this season that would be great, but he needs competition from another forward who fits the Ole mould – young, hungry and with something to prove.
The first team players returned for pre-season yesterday, with the first friendly in Australia on July 13th. If these players are coming, they need to be signed soon.
So, Ed Woodward. It’s time to get some more business done. And fast. Not something you’ve ever really done before.