Tag Archives: Transfers

Newcastle looking to bring in two huge names following takeover

Newcastle United are keen to bring in both Erik Ten Haag and Ousmane Dembele as they look to make a statement following their takeover.

The Magpies were bought by the Saudi Arabian government last month unofficially, but have now got almost unlimited funds to spend over the next several years to become a major force in football.

After sacking manager Steve Bruce last week, the club have now turned their attentions to incomings and reports are suggesting that there are two huge names they are eyeing up.

According to several reports the new owners are targeting current Ajax boss Erik Ten Haag as their new manager and are willing to offer him £6million-per-year after tax to get him to join the club.

The Dutch boss has overseen a renaissance at the Amsterdam club following their Champions League run a few years ago and they are now back to their free-flowing best, with youngsters shining and lots of goals being scored.

That is something that is appealing to the north-east club, but Ten Haag is reportedly not sold on the idea. He has also been linked with the Manchester United job, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get the sack after the recent poor run of results.

The amount of cash available in the transfer market could potentially convince him though, especially with the news that Newcastle are planning to splash the cash on trying to persuade Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele to join.

Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona waves the fans prior to the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Estadi Johan Cruyff on...

The French winger joined the Catalan giants in a €145m deal back in August 2017 as Neymar’s replacement after he joined Paris Saint-Germain.

However a string of injury problems and attitude issues in training have seen him fail to really live up to expectations and the club and he is currently in the final year of his contract.

Barcelona are desperate to re-sign him to a new deal but Dembele is reportedly unsure about signing after a lack of game time, leaving Newcastle to believe they could swoop in and bring him to the Premier League.

Newcastle fans are excited and the Premier League is waiting to see what they do first. January is only around the corner, so not long to wait now.

Raheem Sterling admits he’s open to move abroad for more regular game time

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has admitted that he is willing to leave the club for more regular game time and says that he would be open to moving abroad.

The England international signed for Man City in a £50m deal from Liverpool back in 2015 and has gone on to make 302 appearances for the club, scoring 115 goals in the process.

He had been a regular in the first-team until midway through last season when he lost his place to Phil Foden and now with Jack Grealish joining in the summer he has found himself struggling for starts once again.

After an excellent Euro 2020 tournament with England in the summer, where Sterling scored three times en route to a penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the final, it was hoped by he and many that he would be able to earn himself more regular minutes once again.

However so far Sterling has started just twice in the Premier League this season and once in the Champions League, with one goal to his name.

The lack of regular game time has seen his future come into question again, with his current contract set to expire in 2023 and discussions paused due to a lack of playing.

Sterling was speaking at the FT Business of Sport US summit when he opened up about his future, revealing that he has always dreamed of playing abroad.

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on October 3, 2021 in Liverpool,...

“If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else, I would be open to it. At this moment in time, football is the most important thing to me.

“I have always had something that maybe one day I would love to play abroad and see how I meet that challenge.

“I am not someone who complains. I have not tried to make it a bigger deal than it is. I am just raring to go, play football and score regularly.”

Sterling has been linked with moves to Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the past and with a deal seemingly more possible than ever before, those clubs will likely take an interest again in January or next summer.

Manchester United’s poor business head rears again with Jesse Lingard

The summer of 2020 was all about the future of Jesse Lingard at one point, and the England man found himself out in the cold.

Despite the addition of Edinson Cavani, Donny Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes into the first-team picture at Manchester United, Jesse Lingard opted to stay at the club and fight for his first-team place after scoring his first and only goal of the season on the final day against Leicester the previous season.

He found himself out in the cold in the first half of last season, featuring only in the Carabao Cup and failing to get on the pitch for even a single minute in the Premier League.

He left the club on loan in January and joined West Ham, where he lit up the league and became one of the best performing players in the second half of the campaign.

He scored nine goals and registered four assists in 16 games for the Hammers, helping them to secure European football and it was expected that he would complete a permanent move away from Old Trafford last summer.

But with a year left on his deal and with Manchester United signing Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho to add to their attacking options, Lingard instead opted to stay put and fight for his place once more.

He started the season relatively well, scoring against Newcastle and West Ham while also setting up Ronaldo for the winning goal against Villarreal in the Champions League. But all of those appearances came from the substitutes bench, with his only start so far coming in the Carabao Cup.

Jesse Lingard of Manchester United celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester...

This has led to more speculation over his future, with reports that he has rejected a new contract at the club as he wants assurances over more regular game time.

Barcelona and AC Milan are reportedly interested in signing him on a free transfer, but the whole situation just screams poor planning on United’s behalf once again.

The Reds had ample interest in the 28-year-old during the summer for a permanent deal but set their asking price at around £30m.

For a player who had six-months of good form and was out of contract in less than 12 months time, it seemed high and was proven to be when nobody made an official offer for the England international.

Lingard strangely didn’t push for a move, despite the lack of football ultimately costing him a place in the Euro 2020 squad, something he admitted made him cry.

Jesse Lingard of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on September 28, 2021 in Manchester,...

So with a World Cup coming up next year, the decision to put himself back into that scenario was just odd. United’s decision to keep him was odd, Solskjaer’s adamance to keep him around but not use him is odd. The whole situation is odd.

Now it seems that United will lose out on a chunk of money for a valuable asset, Lingard will miss out on another half-season of football and clubs interested will get a bargain for a player who showed he is capable of making a difference.

United must learn that sometimes they need to just let players go for a bit less than market value to be able to get something at all. Because far too often they are left in a situation where they get nothing for players that they had plenty of interest in, because they’re too stubborn to shift their demands or far too generous with their contracts which means players are too comfortable and don’t press to leave.

It’s a nasty cycle and one United must break, or face the same situation happening again and again in the future.

Patience needed in Newcastle takeover, but they’re coming

It was well over a year in the making but Mike Ashley is finally no longer the owner of Newcastle United Football Club.

While that isn’t the story in the media right now, that’s what Newcastle fans are celebrating mostly. The fact that they have been bought by the Saudi Arabian royal family is just a big bonus for them.

Ignore the politics of the deal for now and lets focus on the football side of it. Newcastle now have the resources to become an absolute powerhouse in European football.

As soon as it was confirmed that Newcastle were mega-rich, the links immediately began with top class players.

The likes of Mauro Icardi, Jesse Lingard, Donny Van de Beek, James Tarkowski and others have been linked with a January move to the club with the new owners stating their intentions to challenge for major honours in the not too distant future.

But while people have imagined that Newcastle will become a Chelsea or Man City overnight in the Premier League, some patience needs to be noticed.

Steve Bruce is expected to be sacked before their first game under new owners against Tottenham at the weekend, but the playing squad won’t change until January at the earliest.

Newcastle United Directors Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi pose for photographs inside their stadium after meeting with staff at St. James Park...

Add to that, they’re still not exactly the most attractive proposition unless it’s from a purely financial standpoint. The “big six” plus the likes of Leicester and even West Ham currently are still in a far better position to earn European football.

Newcastle will need to undergo an entire rebuild from top to bottom, with a manager, new recruitment team and then a squad of players that can compete.

With FFP it will take far longer than it did for the likes of Chelsea and Man City, but eventually it will happen. Fans should be patient as it takes place.

Newcastle United supporters celebrate outside the club's stadium St James' Park in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England on October 7 after the...

Success is inevitable, but it’s hard to ship off deadwood and even harder to bring top quality footballers to your football club when there is so much competition.

But they’re coming. And once they arrive, they will be a huge problem for everyone in England and Europe when it comes to competing for the biggest trophies.

Kylian Mbappe admits he wants out of PSG, but why now?

It was one of the biggest stories of the summer in the world of football, but in the end Kylian Mbappe wasn’t sold to Real Madrid and instead stayed at Paris Saint-Germain.

The French forward was subject to a €180m bid from the Spanish giants as the deadline approached and with less than a year remaining on his contract it was believed that he would leave the club.

But Paris Saint-Germain stood firm and refused to sell one of their star-men to keep together a squad that they built over the course of the transfer window as one of the best in Europe, citing the late interest from Madrid as a big factor.

Mbappe has started the season well, scoring four and assisting five goals in 11 games for the French giants so far. But after going back to international duty with France now, he has revealed in an interview with RMC Sport that he told PSG he wanted to leave in July.

“I asked to leave [in July] because from the moment I didn’t want to extend, I wanted the club to have a transfer fee to have a quality replacement. I wanted everyone to grow, to go out ‘hand in hand’, to make a good deal, and I respected that. I said, if you don’t want me to leave, I’ll stay.

“People have said that I’ve turned down six or seven offers for an extension, that I don’t want to talk to Leonardo anymore, that’s absolutely not true. It’s a club that has given me a lot, I’ve always been happy, and I still am.

“My position has been clear. I said I wanted to leave (PSG) and I said it early enough. Personally, I didn’t really appreciate saying ‘he’s coming the last week of August’ because that sounds like a thief. I said at the end of July that I wanted to leave.”

But why now? When Real Madrid are arguably at the weakest point they’ve been in during Mbappe’s lifetime and Paris Saint-Germain are undoubtedly the strongest they’ve ever been.

It’s simple really. It’s a lifelong dream for Mbappe, and he now has the chance to dictate his own future and make it a reality.

So often fans and media criticise players for going for the biggest paycheck, or for not caring about the “beautiful game” anymore. Mbappe is doing the exact opposite.

Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain looks on during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Rennes and Paris Saint Germain at Roazhon Park on October 3,...

He knows he could walk into any club side in the world already, even at 22-years-old. He is already one of the highest earners in the PSG dressing room and could quite easily become their all-time top goalscorer if he stayed until he was 25.

But he’s done it all in France already. He’s a multi-time golden boot winner, he’s won the league with Monaco and PSG, he’s won all the domestic cups. The only thing he hasn’t done is win the Champions League, and he could very well do that this season.

It’s hard to imagine that Mbappe hasn’t seen how the Harry Kane situation unfolded this summer with Spurs and Man City and not learnt from it. PSG are not a club that need money and therefore they never need to sell a player that they don’t want to sell.

They clearly want to keep Mbappe, so signing a new contract with the club just ties him down and ruins his chances of a future move. As it stands, all the cards are in his hands.

He stays at PSG for another year still happy, still scoring goals and still being influential. When next summer comes he has the world at his feet. If Real Madrid can’t stump up enough in wages and a signing on fee to sign him, then Mbappe will not be short on options.

But if they do, which you have to assume is likely considering they were willing to spend €180m this summer, then Mbappe will be joining one of the most prestigious clubs in the history of world football. Not only that, but he will be joining as their star man, the face of the club and the face of the Spanish top division.

He will be the man, something that he isn’t and can’t be at PSG while Neymar and Lionel Messi exist. He makes Madrid so much better and a huge threat in every competition they enter and he has the chance to pursue a career and be successful with the club of his dreams.

For once, the love of the game and the love of football wins out over money and glory. He should be praised for his decision and the way he has gone about it, not questioned. He’s just a fan at the end of the day.

Premier League transfer window – summary & thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything football related on here, and that’s because I’ve been pretty busy and also writing for the Manchester Evening News in my new full-time role (hence the much reduced content rate these days).

But even without my constant commentary, the football world hasn’t stopped moving and the last month or so of the transfer window has been absolutely unrivalled in sporting history.

Lionel Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain and the French giants refused to sell Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid despite his contract entering the final 12 months of validity. But the Premier League was even crazier.

The easiest way to do it is to go club by club through the sides most expected to win the title this season and summarise their window and expectations for the upcoming campaign.

We’ll start with the current reigning champions Man City, who smashed the British record transfer fee to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in a deal worth £100m. After losing Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers to Barcelona, they were expected to bring in a top striker too and chased Harry Kane throughout the summer but they were then left hanging when Spurs refused to negotiate.

Jack Grealish signs for Man City in Premier League record £100MILLION  transfer from Aston Villa

Despite the failure to sign a striker, City have started the season scoring ten goals in three games and defensively still look very solid as they did last year. They have a clear hole in the squad in terms of a traditional centre-forward, but Pep Guardiola sides always have several goal sources and that won’t change this year.

The signing of Grealish for a nine-figure sum added to the fact they were literally three wins away from winning every trophy available to them last seasons mean the expectation of the team is still to win the league.

Their issue this season however will be that they have a lot of competition for the title.

Arguably their strongest competition will be the current reigning European champions, Chelsea. The Blues look solid under Thomas Tuchel once again this season but have addressed some key areas, including the signing of fearsome striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan in a deal worth £97.5m.

After balancing the books to get Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea press on with fire  sale as they chase next big deal | Evening Standard

The Belgian has returned to Stamford Bridge hungrier than ever for success, fresh off carrying Inter Milan to the Serie A title last year. He’s been joined on deadline day by Saul Niguez on a season-long loan deal from Atletico Madrid, further boosting the depth of an already stacked squad.

Chelsea are solid defensively, excellent in transition and in possession and now have a certified source of goals leading their attack too. With the depth they have, the excellent coach and pure quality in the squad they should consider anything but winning the league a failure.

The other main competition that they will have this season is from the red half of Manchester and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United side.

Not only did they finally complete the signing of long-term targets Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but they also did the impossible and were able to re-sign the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus.

United were able to bolster their defensive line hugely with the addition of one of the best defenders in the world and then boosted an already strong attacking lineup with one of the best young wide players as well as one of the best ever. They didn’t however manage to sign a defensive midfielder and that could be a hinderance in their title push.

Despite that though, by adding so much quality to a team that finished second last season the only expectation of the squad can be to win it this year.

I realise that means I’ve said three different team have to win the league this year, but that’s because no matter what happens come May 2022 at least two of those teams will be considered failures for not lifting the Premier League trophy.

It could well be all three deemed as failures though, because Liverpool are well and truly in the race yet again. Last year they were completely blitzed by injuries to their defensive line and when Klopp opted to play midfielders in defence to cover them, they completely collapsed to the worst title defence in a long time.

But with Virgil Van Dijk back at his imperious best plus the return to fitness of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip followed by the addition of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, they’re defence is so much stronger. The midfield is solid, boosted by the promotion of young talent Harvey Elliott while Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota make up a formidable front line they are back to being contenders.

With Jurgen Klopp in the managerial hot seat too, Liverpool have got one of the best coaches in world football and a team that just two seasons ago was without a doubt the best in the world. They’re underdogs because of the business their rivals have done, but they are without a doubt in the running for the title too.

It’s due to be an absolutely crazy Premier League season and one you won’t want to miss under any circumstances. Keep an eye out for our top six predictions coming next week too.

Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain isn’t boring, it’s just modern football

Lionel Messi has officially left Barcelona FC after 17 years and is going to be a Paris Saint-Germain player next season.

The move comes after the Argentine initially agreed to sign a new deal with the Catalan side, just 12 months after making a scene publicly about wanting to leave after not agreeing with the direction the club was going in.

But after a season in which he seemed to find joy once again and added what would turn out to be a 35th and final trophy with the club, he was denied the chance of finishing his career in the Camp Nou by La Liga rules.

La Liga rules state that a club’s annual wage to turnover ratio can be no more than 70% but Messi’s renewal would take the club up to 115%.

The main issue isn’t that however, but yet another fallout from the Super League fiasco that took place earlier this year. The Spanish FA had been overlooking Barcelona being above their limit for years, but with Barcelona and Real Madrid refusing to agree to a deal that would see La Liga sell a portion of their equity for cash but bury the Super League forever, president Javier Tebas has decided to enforce the rules.

Leo Messi Press Conference : News Photo

Many questioned why Messi wouldn’t just play for free if he wanted to stay at the club so badly, but even if he did their wage bill would be at 95% of their turnover. It made no difference, Messi can’t play for Barcelona this season while the league actually choose to enforce their rules.

So that leaves a handful of clubs that are actually able to afford him and allow him to continue his career at the highest level.

Manchester City just spent £100m on Jack Grealish from Aston Villa and gave him the number 10 shirt, but they also want Harry Kane desperately and are under investigation for FFP breaches. Manchester United are more interested in building a young squad to develop and while Messi is obviously someone you want in your team, they have a structure in place they clearly aren’t willing to break.

Chelsea were also a possible destination but they’ve just splashed £98m on Romelu Lukaku for their strike force after a £250m outlay last summer on the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, meaning they made the decision to not offer 34-year-old Messi astronomical wages.

With Real Madrid obviously out of the running, Italy not a viable option because of the financial situation in their country and Bayern Munich never in the running, it left just PSG.

This is a PSG side run by the super rich Qatar Sports Investment group. They sponsor Barcelona as a club and currently can afford to pay both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe after spending a combined £360m the two superstars.

Yet they’ve still managed to agree a two-year deal with Messi where he will earn a reported £25m per-year net in wages and £20m in a signing on fee. In reality, they had zero competition for his siganture.

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021 : News Photo

The deal has been labelled as ‘boring’ as Messi joins a super-rich side who already dominate their domestic scene, despite not winning the league title last year, and is already filled with other superstars. They wanted romance, like when Diego Maradona joined Napoli, for further evidence that Messi is the best ever.

But that’s not his problem. He wants to compete at the highest level for as long as he can and when you’re as good as he is, any team you could potentially join will already have several top talents in the club. Adding Messi into a group of already super talented footballer basically instantly makes them favourites.

It’s not Messi’s fault that only some clubs can afford him, because he deserves to be the highest paid player in the world. He’s the best ever and having won six Ballon d’Or’s already and on course for a seventh later this year, it’s not like he’s living off past glories either.

He will make PSG unanimous favourites for the Champions League, a trophy he and they are desperate to win and he will part of one of the most entertaining teams on the continent going forward.

The only losers here are La Liga and Barcelona, the rest of us should enjoy him for the last few years of his career when he’s finally in a team worthy of his talent. He’s no longer carrying players lucky to play with him on his back in a constant hunt for success. This is going to be fun.

Chelsea’s Jules Kounde situation brings light to academy pathway yet again

Chelsea are being Chelsea yet again this summer.

The Blues are on the verge of signing young French centre-back Jules Kounde from Sevilla in a move worth around £60million to slot straight into their back-three, after Thomas Tuchel made him a priority signing for the summer.

But when you look at other deals that the west London side have made this summer, you start to question the fore-planning going on at Stamford Bridge when it comes to the academy once again.

Chelsea’s summer as European champions began with them losing their academy defensive crown jewel in Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan.

In January, Tomori was allowed to leave for Serie A on loan just before Frank Lampard was sacked and replaced by Tuchel. But interestingly, and weirdly, the loan deal included a very affordable clause to turn the deal permanent.

Unsurprisingly Tomori shone with Milan as they secured Champions League football for the first time since the 2013/14 season, and thus the Rossoneri decided to splash the cash and take him to Italy full-time.

Chelsea secured £25million for the 23-year-old and while fans were over the moon about the deal, the returning Marc Guehi from Swansea City on loan was seen to be an immediate replacement in the squad.

Instead, Chelsea couldn’t agree a new contract with the England youth international and Guehi was allowed to leave to sign for Premier League side Crystal Palace in a £21.5million deal. So that makes the Champions League holders two academy defenders down, hence the supposed move for Kounde.

But with a reported fee of £60m for Kounde, it begs the question about the pathway for academy players getting into the first-team once again.

One thing that Lampard did properly during his 18 months in charge at Stamford Bridge was open up a pathway for young players to believe they could make it to the first team from Cobham.

The likes of Reece James, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all became regulars in the first-team squad under Lampard, while the likes of Tariq Lamptey and Tomori made their debuts too.

But now it seems as though that gateway to men’s football is being closed off once again as Chelsea prioritise success via money than a long-term plan.

There is nothing wrong with that, there is a clear method that works as they win trophies on a regular basis using this plan. But lots of fans and young players will see the lack of a pathway and could become more detached from the club.

Kounde is a top defender and without a doubt one of the best young centre-backs in world football right now. Is he better than Guehi, Tomori and any other academy defender at the club right now? Absolutely.


But is he £65million better? Probably not. Tuchel’s back three last season was mightily impressive when he was selecting from Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger. There is no reason that they wouldn’t be as successful this season, with even more time to work on his methods and style.

He also has options of Trevor Chalobah and even Reece James for the centre-back role beyond them, so he’s not short on numbers.

Bringing in Kounde seems more like a statement signing than one they actually are in need of and makes sense. Keeping Guehi and putting more trust into that academy pathway would’ve been a big positive to everyone in the club as well as for fans that support them.

Chelsea are improving with Kounde and that is the most important thing, but don’t be surprised to see the young talent at the club grow more and more impatient as these signings become the norm once again.

Arsenal’s pursuit of Ben White deserves praise, even if the price is crazy

One criticism that I, and many other fans, have of football clubs is when they try to shop out of their price range.

In the past we’ve seen Arsenal linked with players that seemed way out of their budget or capabilities based on the status of the current squad and their performance over the last few years.

We often say that there is a market for a club in transition such as Arsenal, and it’s to take a gamble on players a step earlier than they would have previously in order to build a top squad for the future before the big boys start circling around them.

When Leicester do their business and sign the likes of Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans it’s because they’re willing to take the plunge earlier than the top teams.

Tielamans and Fofana weren’t cheap either, costing a combined £70m for a club who have only ever finished in the top four once in Premier League history. But the way they have turned out and become top players, they could now probably command that combined fee for each player individually.

Alternatively, they could build a side full of top talents who can now help them to challenge the bigger more equipped sides in the country. Sadly for Arsenal fans, as much as it may hurt, that is the bubble they’re in now.

Signing the likes of Thomas Partey is huge and something that the history of the club can afford them to do. They’re still a giant club globally and do have some name value when it comes to attracting stars.

But something that Mikel Arteta is doing this summer seems to be targeting is that young talent that can help them to bridge the gap. The exit of David Luiz this summer means that they need a centre back and for whatever reason, he doesn’t rate William Saliba whatsoever.

So the best way to replace him is to bring in a young, talented defender that he can develop into a top level player for the club in the long-term. That man is seemingly Brighton’s Ben White.

He shone for Leeds United in the Championship two seasons ago and then last year was great for the Seagulls, showing that he can cope in the Premier League. He then stepped into the England squad for Gareth Southgate at the last minute for Euro 2020, replacing the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Arteta would have seen him play centre-back in a four or three, wing-back, right-back or even defensive midfield. That helps him to solve several problems within his squad with just one signing.

He’s clearly a very talented young player with plenty of room to improve and a big fee is only ever remembered when the player doesn’t do well. Nobody talks about the £75m Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool, or the £50m Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling.

If White becomes a successful purchase as Arsenal clearly anticipate he will, then the fee becomes irrelevant.

Getting in a young, super talented player is a good thing for Arsenal and while the fee represents a huge outlay on a gamble, it’s one that they’re best placed to make.

They’re finally shopping in the right markets and they’re one of the biggest sharks in that pool, it’s time to make a splash.

Manchester United transfer window looks right for the most part

It feels like every summer for the last five summers Manchester United have needed the same positions filled during a transfer window.

A right winger, a striker, a centre-back, a defensive midfielder and full-backs. All of which have been signed in recent years, but none of the quality necessary to make it not a glaring issue within the squad.

But this summer seems a little bit different for the most part when it comes to the transfers the squad are reportedly seeking.

A deal for Jadon Sancho is closer than ever before with the Red Devils having made two bids for the England international so far and the only thing stopping it being accepted is the structure of the payments.

Then there is the news that Raphael Varane really wants to leave Real Madrid this summer and that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are at the front of the queue to make a deal happen.

That’s two top level players that would not only improve the squad this summer but they would also instantly improve the starting lineup too, which can only help to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool for next season.

Further to those two United have also been linked with Declan Rice for the defensive midfield position, Kieran Trippier for the right-back role and Edinson Cavani has re-signed for another year as the striker option.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford of England look on during the England training session on June 03, 2021 in Middlesbrough, England.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the personnel of the other two incoming transfer targets initially, it’s a positive sign that the club are looking to address problem areas of the squad in one window.

Solskjaer has shown that he has progressed the team to a certain level without getting first-choice targets for much of his tenure, but to kick on to the next level he needs that added quality to lean on when it gets tough.

For the defensive midfield role, United need someone with quality defensive attributes but who can also play football. Just being good defensively isn’t enough for the top clubs and Rice’s attributes on the ball won’t help United when coming up against a low block, which is something they already struggle with.

A defensive midfielder with quality on the ball like Yves Bissouma or Douglas Luiz would cost a fraction of the price and be better suited to what a top midfield really needs.

At right-back Trippier is the right profile of player needed, just the wrong individual. The England and Atletico Madrid defender is a good attacking outlet as well as decent defender, but he is the wrong side of 30 and will take a fair chunk out of the budget for the summer.

United currently have Diogo Dalot and Ethan Laird as young, attacking full-backs that could compete with Aaron Wan-Bissaka in that position but instead Solskjaer wants to sign one as a short-term option.

Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium battles for possession with Declan Rice of England and Kieran Trippier of England during the UEFA Nations League group...

If signing one is the thing that needs to be done because Solskjaer doesn’t rate Dalot and Laird is moving out on loan for the season, then it should be someone younger that is a target. Tariq Lamptey would be a terrific option, while I’m sure some scouting departments could look at the likes of Germany Under-21 right-back Ridle Baku and see a talented option there.

They’d likely cost less than the reported £35million that Atletico want for Trippier but even if they didn’t, the fee would be far more justified as a long-term investment to compete with Wan-Bissaka on going forward rather than someone coming in for a final big pay day.

Whether we agree with the personnel though, it shows that Solskjaer sees what the fans see and that improvements are needed in specific areas. The fact the business seems to be a priority to get done early is a positive.

The summer transfer window is on the right track for Manchester United, for the most part anyway.