ARTICLES Opinion

Rating Manchester United’s 2021/22 summer transfer window

The 2021/22 summer transfer window has finally concluded and it’s been 83 days of chaos, but it’s been bloody exciting.

For both Manchester United and the entire footballing world, this has been one of the best transfer windows in recent memory. We’ve seen the two heavyweights of the footballing world — Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — move from their respective clubs and there have been tons of other interesting deals throughout the summer.

With four additions to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side, United are looking strengthened but also ultimately missed out on a defensive midfielder which would’ve completed the window. Nevertheless, there is an aura of excitement around the club and I’m sure many Reds are counting down the days until United host Newcastle at Old Trafford.

This article will be looking at the new signings for the club and rating them individually and then as a collective:

Tom Heaton

Transfer business which initially looked smart, with the idea that one of Dean Henderson or David de Gea would be leaving the club, which would make Tom Heaton a reliable number two.

However, with United’s no.1 and no.26 staying at Old Trafford — the need for Tom Heaton as a number three (and then Lee Grant as a number four) seems pretty unnecessary. The veteran goalkeeper started his career with the club and is returning after a successful career with over 100 Premier League appearances.

A solid goalkeeper — who is remembered for a spectacular save against United and Zlatan Ibrahimović in October 2016 — should be at least a decent supplement to the squad, but with two high wage goalkeepers still at the club; the transfer seems more questionable than good business. 4/10

Jadon Sancho

This one was four years in the making. Manchester United first wanted to sign Jadon Sancho when he looked to move from across the City. However, after making him a priority signing, Solskjær finally got his man this time around.

At 21 years of age, the South-London born is the perfect profile for a United attack where the creative burden is mostly on Bruno Fernandes. For just £73 million, United secured their man for a cut-price and while his full debut against Wolves wasn’t the most spectacular, it’s inevitable that that winger will find his feet and then be a prized asset on the right (or the left) for a United side which has been starved of a quality winger on the right side.

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A skilful and tricky winger who will definitely get the Old Trafford faithful off their seats; Sancho is sure to be a fan-favourite at the club for a long, long time. 9/10

Raphaël Varane

While a defensive midfielder was more of a priority position, United did need to look for a central-defensive partner for Harry Maguire, who’d be a stylistic upgrade on Victor Lindelöf. That’s exactly what they got in Raphaël Varane.

This article goes into more detail on how the Frenchman will compliment Maguire, but essentially; his physical attributes and reading of the game should allow him to sweep in behind and cover Maguire; who is naturally an aggressive centre-back.

Considering United snatched Varane from Real Madrid for an initial price of just £34 million, while in his prime years, he’s a great buy for the club when looking at his on-field ability — that doesn’t even take into account the leadership and experience the four-time Champions League winner will bring to the side. 9/10

Cristiano Ronaldo

After leaving the club to fulfil his dream at Real Madrid in 2009, there was always a glimmer of hope among Manchester United fans that Cristiano Ronaldo would return to the club at some point in his career.

So you can only imagine the bitter taste that reports linking the United legend to Manchester City left in supporters mouths. It was a disaster scenario and left many contemplating the season ahead if they’d have to compete against one of the clubs best ever players. The relief and excitement when Ronaldo actually snubbed City for a return to Old Trafford is unexplainable.

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A club legend. A lethal goalscorer. One of the best players of all time. Cristiano Ronaldo still has so much to give United; even at 36 years of age. His experience, leadership and pure aura will be a massive benefit in the changing room and training ground. Then, on the pitch, he will offer something different to when he was a flying winger in 2006, but it’ll still be great.

The forward has re-joined the club on a two-year deal where he’ll earn a reported 480,000-per-week. As one of the biggest commercial powers in sport though; this deal will only end positively in a financial sense for United.

There are question-marks whether this return was entirely needed — with Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood both looking ready to compete for the centre-forward spot. Ultimately though, the club could not under any circumstances let him join Pep Guardiola’s team. Also, for a transfer of just €15 million (+ €8 million in add-ons), Ronaldo will surely add a lot to an inexperienced United side, who are all clearly buzzing to have him on board. 8/10

The overall window

In all; it was certainly a good window for Manchester United. The club brought in three top quality recruits — one at the start of his career, one in his prime and the other is Cristiano Ronaldo.

United have finally seemed to have solved the problem on the right-wing and also have a centre-back partnership capable of challenging for the major honours.

While there was a disappointingly low amount of sales, almost doubling their money on Daniel James was shrewd business from the club. The Welshman was sold to Leeds United– a club he helped terrorise at Old Trafford twice- for £25 million.

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What made this transfer window less successful was the inability to bring in a quality central/defensive midfielder. It was, alongside a right-winger, the absolute priority for the club, who have operated with a midfield of Scott McTominay and Fred for the better part of two years.

Even if you believe those two are capable of starting in a title-challenging team; the need for added cavalry is clear when Nemanja Matic is the only suitable replacement for an injured McTominay.

The hopes for a strong season rely on the current crop in the middle. Paul Pogba is playing unbelievable football on the left side of attack, but will undoubtedly be asked to perform a role in the middle like he did against Wolves more often through the season. McTominay and Fred will need to ensure they keep fit through the season. Matic will need to be brought in at the correct times and hopefully Donny van de Beek can prove useful in a deeper position than he’s used to.

There’s a lot of ‘if’s’ when talking about Manchester United’s midfield and that could’ve been largely solved with a top acquisition in the market. However; it wasn’t to be this summer and that does put a dent in how the transfer market went for United supporters.

It was still a strong window, and United should be challenging for major trophies with the squad they have now. If they fall short though, many will look back to this time of year and will wonder why one more transfer was not sanctioned. It could be the fact that the club are waiting for that ‘perfect’ signing for a priority position; like they did on the right with Sancho. Yet, it’s a dangerous move with so much seeming to ride on this season.

The entire window: 8/10

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