For some, it may still not feel real. But the arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane at Manchester United very much are. The duos settling in processes are now well underway as the Reds look ahead to their second league game away to Southampton on Sunday.
Sancho is in his second week of training after some post-holiday complications delayed his involvement at the beginning of the month. That was enough for the 21-year-old to claim a seat on the bench and be welcomed with a tumultuous ovation this past weekend during United’s 5-1 thumping of Leeds as the English winger made a 15-minute second-half cameo.
For Varane, visa issues and quarantine delayed things even more than his fellow newcomers. United agreed a deal in principle with Real Madrid towards the end of July, but the decorated centre-back only just joined up with his new teammates on Monday after receiving a hero like welcome prior to the Reds’ league curtain raiser five days ago.Embed from Getty Images
Now, the major talking point amongst the United faithful is: What will Ole Gunnar Solskjær do come Sunday? A question seconded by many curious Fantasy Premier League managers.
Following such a dominant opening day display, you have to wonder whether Solskjær will make any changes to the starting lineup that served him so well in the rivalry clash. Even more so because Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints in many ways resemble Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in the way that they like to play. Intensity and fitness will once again be key.
But even with the immediate fixture aside, are the pair of new signings worth having in the virtual game? Let’s take a look:
Jadon Sancho (£9.5)Embed from Getty Images
If you were to pick just one of the two, the new Reds winger is probably the safer and more practical option. One of the main reasons as to why Solskjær spent two years wanting to bring Sancho to Old Trafford is the fact that he chipped in with 36 goals and 40 assists in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund over the last two seasons. Able to operate across all positions in the attacking three that supports the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Sancho is expected to add a new dimension to the Reds play in the final third.
You cannot guarantee anything in football. And while Sancho’s numbers may not translate in their entirety, he will be surrounded by more quality players at United. Make of that what you will.
It remains to be seen whether he is fit enough to start on the weekend after playing for about an hour in a behind closed doors friendly against Burnley on Tuesday. With United evidently looking to dominate more games this season, he might be an enticing option for Solskjær to put alongside Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba against the Saints. But if not right now, you’d certainly expect the Englishman to be an asset worth having on FPL, sooner or later, either alongside Bruno (£12) — who is a must have — or as a slightly cheaper alternative.
Raphaël Varane (£5.5)Embed from Getty Images
With one eye on the Southampton game, it is looking rather unlikely that the French World Cup winner will be making an appearance — certainly not from the start. Having trained for just a few days — and missing out on the aforementioned Burnley friendly — Sunday will likely come too soon for United’s new centre-back.
Another bump in the road — if you want to call it that — is that Victor Lindelöf has looked great in all of the games that he has played so far (Everton friendly, Leeds (H)). So, even if Varane was fit enough to start on the weekend, it would be incredibly harsh on the Swede to get dropped after doing no wrong.
Looking at the bigger picture, United had a tendency of giving away silly goals last season which resulted in just 13 clean sheets for all of their defensive assets on the game. Varane was acquired in order to try and prevent that from happening in the new campaign, as those lax defensive moments cost the Reds quite a few points in 2020/21. But until we are proven otherwise, banking on United clean sheets may not be the wisest move.
As a goal threat, Varane only has 19 career goals to his name — and just eight in nearly a decade in La Liga. With that in mind, Harry Maguire is probably a better alternative at the same price. And if you’re looking for regular returns, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw certainly present more appealing options.
So, the verdict is that managers should probably pump the brakes on Varane as an FPL asset for the moment — at least until the 28-year-old gets his legs under him and gels with United’s skipper at the heart of the Reds defence.