United may have an established first-team squad right now, but it is lack of quality and depth on the bench that is presently the issue, and probably hurt us the most against Sevilla as Ole just didn’t have faith in the bench to provide a match-winning moment. Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich we relegated to the Championship this season, and we take a look at five players that we can sign from these teams. This scavenger hunt would be mainly to recruit squad players and impact subs.
1. TODD CANTWELL
In a dismal Premier League campaign for the Canaries, Todd Cantwell was a shining light. He scored against United in the FA Cup through a belter and was probably the best player for the Canaries by far. The Dereham born midfielder scored 7 goals and assisted 2 from midfield in the entire season which is not a bad return for a midfielder. This also takes into account that Teemu Pukki was absolutely abysmal in the latter half of the season.
He is young – just 22 years old, energetic, creative and can pick a pass, making him an option worth considering if we don’t get our primary targets for the CAM position, to say nothing of him being a cheap option for us, he would be content with a role from the bench, and possibly could make an impact from there. He fits Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s transfer policy perfectly i.e. to sign players who are hungry for game-time, and are not quite the finished article yet.
He is extremely versatile and can play basically anywhere in the attacking line and midfield, and he could also be utilized as a false 9 as once used by Daniel Farke. If we decide to pass on from Grealish, which looks increasingly likely if we continued to be priced out, Cantwell may be an option worth considering. Also because Norwich was relegated, he should be available cheaply - maybe in the region of £20 million or less especially with a creative add-on’s payment structure, increasingly a staple of the Woodward-Judge negotiation tactic.
2. ISMAILA SARR
Ismaila Sarr is probably already a cult hero for the Red Devil fans (possibly even Arsenal fans) due to his heroics in the match which eventually ended Liverpool’s winning run in the Premier League. The Senegalese curiously suffered relegation with a really competent Watford side, which could mainly be blamed on the Club’s board. Sarr is Premier league quality as he had shown repeatedly mainly under Nigel Pearson with 6 goals and six assists, and there is reported interest from our Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, in securing his signature.
Ismaila Sarr would be an absolute steal if we manage to get him to sign. A speedy, energetic player who likes to dribble is what Solskjaer looks for in a winger, and Sarr could be a good addition to the squad and could be a capable backup to Mason Greenwood or Jadon Sancho if we sign him considering that Dan James’ best position is on the Left Wing. He won’t be cheap though as Watford is reportedly demanding a fee of 35 – 40 million for him. David Brooks might be another attractive prospect.
3. GERARD DEULOFEU
There is no denying this – If Deulofeu hadn’t been injured in the latter half of the season after the historic win against Liverpool, the Hornets would still be in the Premier League (That and some sensible decisions made by the board). Gerard Deulofeu is class when on-song, and is nearing his prime - certainly not a Championship layer. The Catalonian forward can play in multiple positions LW, RW, CAM, and even center forward when deployed as a deep-lying frontman.
He could be of extreme value to the Red Devils should they sign him – as they look to end their trophy drought with Deulofeu acting mainly as a bench option, and cup player, and someone (if he realizes his true potential) who could be snapping at the heels of all the forwards - providing much-needed competition for places in the Red Devils’ frontline.
As the case is with most Spanish players, he thrives in a system that plays fast attacking football and is a real threat when he is given an inch of space as he has the ability to deliver a line-breaking pass or take a shot himself. With Watford relegated United could acquire him for a much cheaper price than he would normally be available for, and he is a player, in my opinion, we should seriously consider looking at. However, we would need to fend off interest from AC Milan to acquire the ex-Barcelona frontman.
4. EMILIANO BUENDIA
Along with Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia was the major creative force in the Canaries’ midfield having made quite the impression in his debut Premier League campaign. Had Teemu Pukki continued his sensational form at the start of the season, Emi Buendia could well have ended up with more than 15 assists this season as opposed to the 7 he got. The Argentine impressed a lot of people particularly with the role he played in defeating the then defending champions, Manchester City, as his work-rate proving too much for the Citizen’s defense to deal with, and his industry was rewarded with a goal and an assist to his name.
That is his natural game as he looks to outrun almost every player on the pitch, contributes to the defensive shape, and has the ability to launch quick and deadly counter-attacks with his deft long-range passing, making him an ideal fit as a backup CAM (he can play on the right-wing and Central midfield too) as in the Gaffer’s words – “United always outruns the opposing team”.
With the Canaries poised to play yet another campaign in England’s second-tier (as it has been the case this decade) Emi Buendia may be considering his options with a move. There is reportedly some interest from local rivals, Leeds United, in acquiring his services.
5. JOSHUA KING
A United Academy product – so a known quantity, he knows the club well, and it would be an interesting reunion considering that his club Bournemouth were relegated, and he didn’t have his best season. Regardless, the Norwegian’s ability is never in doubt and he has the presence of mind to create something out of nothing. Joshua King is a fairly technical player who will come deep to get the ball and will make good runs, King doesn’t necessarily have qualities that would for a great striker.
However, he is highly intelligent, knows when to pass and when to shoot, and he is good in the air. Considering that Odion Ighalo may not be staying beyond January as his parent club Shanghai Shenhua reportedly has no interest in selling, we could look to him to being our backup center forward option. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously worked with his fellow Norwegian back when he was the reserves manager and holds King in very high regard. He could be very useful in the cup competitions as a substitute.
A Norwegian coming on late, and scoring the winning goal would be a tradition that you would fancy Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would like to continue. This season he played predominantly cutting in from the left-hand side but can play in the striker position. With the Cherries relegated, he will be looking to stay in the English top-flight following in the footsteps of Nathan Ake who signed for United’s local rivals Manchester City and will be available at a cheaper valuation.
What are your thoughts?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Varun (@VarunSangwan01) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The Devil's Den.
All opinions and materials of contributor writers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent positions held by The Daily Manc.