Rating Manchester United’s one-way January transfer window out of 10

Manchester United fans have been crying out for a central midfielder for a while – more specifically a defensive minded central midfielder, as the current options are limited or cannot play 90 minutes twice a week.

Nemanja Matic, although a class player, cannot play to a high tempo every week. Scott McTominay, although has adapted to playing a deep role since his debut, is still not a “DM”. Fred is not either, at least to the capacity that a team like United demands. Ralf Rangnick has also previously spoken about his offensive and creative qualities.

So, coming in to this window, many fans wanted/expecting to the the incoming of a defensive midfielder, as that is the most obvious upgrade that is needed to boost the club’s chances of securing Champions League qualification next season. This didn’t happen… but we will get to that.

First, lets take a look into which first team players actually left the club this January (and also one key board member). I will give a score our of 10 for how much of a good or bad decision I think the move was, taking into account the players’ current situation and the current club situation.

Axel Tuanzebe

The first out of the door on loan this Janaury was academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe.

This is the second time that Tuanzebe has gone on loan in the 2021/22 season. Originally he went on loan to Aston Villa, however once Steven Gerrard was confirmed as their new manager, Tuanzebe decided that he no longer wanted to continue at the club.

That couldn’t have been an easy decision, especially since Tuanzebe is well-liked among their fanbase. His agent and brother Dimitri commented on the matter, saying to ESPN: “following the arrival of Steven Gerrard at Villa Park, it felt as if the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool came to life.

Moving to Napoli is a good move for Tuanzebe. Napoli only have 4 recognised centre-backs in their first team squad; Kalidou Koulibaly (30), Amir Rrahmani (27), Juan Jesus (30), and Axel himself (24). This is an ideal number, as rotation will mean he will at least get opportuniry, and the quantity of centre-backs means there is a perfect level of competition for the position without being so many choices that some players get drowned out of having a shot for the position; something which could happen to Tuanzebe at United.

Tuanzebe can also play at right-back when needed, although Napoli already have 3 recognised right-backs in the squad, so the chance of him getting a shot in that position is minimal. He has played 2 games for Napoli so far, starting one and coming off the bench in another.

United got a reported loan fee of around £540k from Napoli for Tuanzebe.

Overall I would give this move an 8/10.

Anthony Martial

The next to leave Manchester is the much-beloved Anthony Martial. Again on loan, Martial moved to Sevilla after being given limited opportunities in the last 16-or-so months.

Anthony Martial has cultivated a brilliant relationship with a lot of fans at United; especially those who regularly go to Old Trafford. He has performed endless heroics for the club, notably goals in huge games against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Another example is his winning goal against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final.

He is a central part of some of the club’s best moments post-Fergie.

However, in recent times, the relationship between player, club, and fans has broken down. Boos could be heard when Martial last played for the club, even though he actually was centre to the club’s last-minute winner against West Ham.

Martial and Sevilla has actually been a move that’s floated around the player for a while, with the Spanish club originally being reportedly interested in the Frenchman back in 2017, when his relationship with Jose Mourinho was at breaking point.

Martial needs a fresh start and a new lease of life, and this move provides exactly that. Regardless of if Martial comes back into the United frame under new management in the summer or if he is moved on permanently, this move benefits all parties. Martial gets to showcase his talent, United get to use this talent to increase his sale price or get him back on form before playing for the club once again, Sevilla get a striker to boost their title hopes, and United fans get to see their once-starman plying his trade once again.

We picked Anthony Martial to Sevilla as one of United’s three most interesting loans for the rest of the season.

A 10/10 move.

Amad

A teenager who was bought for €20m + another €20m in potential bonuses from Atalanta in 2020, Amad came with a LOT of hype. Apparently adored by scouts globally, Amad was hot property across Europe. He didn’t actually join the club until January 2021 due to work visa reasons, and a year later he’s had limited chances at the club.

Amad has played 331 minutes across 9 appearances for United’s first team, scoring and assisting once. His one goal, against AC Milan in the Europa Leauge, was a beauty. He lept between goalkeeper and centre-back to perform some kind of backwards looping header over a stranded keeper – his first shot on goal for the club.

Going on loan to Rangers for the remainder of this season, he replicated this statistic in his first game up north, by scoring 4 minutes in with his very first shot for the club. Granted, it was an open goal tap in, however you don’t get those by accident – his off the ball movement and anticipation of the cross coming in led to his easy goal.

He played very well on his debut, and at the moment it looks to be a move where he will gain many minutes in a first team setting, which is absolutely vital for a young baller his age. When he played for Manchester United’s U23s, it was clear he was a cut above the rest.

I tweeted this in anticipation of including it in this article and it’s ended up being my most-liked tweet, lol.

Overall this move is a great one, however I have a few reservations. Scottish football can be complete chaos at times, and I am slightly worried that it won’t let him adapt to the Manchester Untied type situations he will be at if he becomes a proper starter at the club. I could be completely wrong there though, as all minutes are good minutes for Amad right now.

Overall I would give this move a 7/10 for now, with the potential to reach a 10/10.

Donny van de Beek

He’s played 50 games for Manchester United, but it feels like he’s only just broken 20 appearances.

That’s because he has, in terms of minutes.

Donny van de Beek needed a loan move so badly. It became a joke how little he was playing for the club. I actually wrote a peice on why I feel he hasn’t played as much as everyone wanted (highlighted in the above paragraph), but that’s in the past now.

Van de Beek is now on loan at Everton until the end of the seaosn. The Toffies and Crystal Palace were both fighting for his signature, and in the end the south london club lost out.

Now, I actually would have rather seen Donny sign for Crystal Palace. This is partly because I ahve a bit of a soft spot for them, but also because Palace are in a much more stable environment than Everton right now. They have backed their new manager, have a philosiphy to play attacking and expansive football, whereas Everton have just appointeed Frank Lampard, they are 4 points from relegation spots, and need points on the board as a priority.

They have also just signed Dele Alli, a player who is similar to Donny, and I am worried that this will limit his minutes.

However, the main thing is Donny now has a new opportunity to thrive and show his talent; and he knows it.

Overall I will give this move a 7/10, but that’s mainly because I’m worried that his minutes could be limited.

Ed Woodward

He’s gone!

12/10

We need to talk about Jesse Lingard…

Jesse Lingard has been wanting to move on from United for over a year now. He went on loan to West Ham this time last year, and we all expected the trasnfer to beome permenant in the subsequent summer.

However United blocked the move and told Lingard he would get more chances at United, only to bench him agin. He then asked to leave on multiple occasions, and United made their demands for him entirely unrealistic. From my perspective, United have treated him unfairly. He wanted to leave, we should have let him leave.

It is a prime example of United’s current problems.

West Ham, Newcastle, Tottenham, Leicester, Everton and Burnley all reportedly showed interest.

According to reports, part of the reason United did not want Lingard is due to Mason Greenwood‘s suspention from all footballing acitivites. This could mean he gets more chances, but i doubt it. He is out of contract in the summer an will leave for free, so I feel there was absolutely no point in delaying the inevitable and keeping him on the wage books for no apparent significant reason.

2/10 decision from United here.

We really didn’t sign a DM…

The last genuinely defensive midfielder United signed was Nemanja Matic in 2017 for a reported fee of £40m. United have gone NINE TRANSFER WINDOWS without signing a defensive midfielder since then. United have signed Fred and Bruno Fernandes as midfielders since Matic, however neither of them are the right profile to play the role needed.

Rangnick has recently changed to a 4-3-3 system, which requires a lone No.6 to opperate behind two No.8’s – but he did not sign one.

You can argue that he does not want to make any permenant decisions before the potential arrival of a new manager in the summer, but that still doesn’t make any sense because United need one regardeless of tactics, just to fill a huge hole in our squad.

McTominay has played in that role a few times in recent games and done alright, however I feel these performances will start to drop as he becomes targetted by opposition midfielders due to not being a specialist in said position.

United were linked to a few midfielders in the window, but none of these links came to fruition and were dismissed by club sources.

I also feel like signing a right-winger on loan wouldn’t have gone amiss, someone such as Ousmane Dembele, just due to not having Mason Greenwood in the squad anymore. However that is more a suggestion than a necessity.

In terms of incomings, I rate United’s business as a solid 0/10 because… well there’s no business to judge in the first place.

Overall

To conclude, I will give United’s window a 4/10.

They made some very smart loan decisions, but also one really stupid one (not loaning Lingard). Also, another point to be made is loan moves are temporary – the situations of these players will have to again be assessed once they return to the club in the summer, meaning even more work will need to be done in order to work a more sustainable solution for them.

The decision to not bring in midfield reinforcements is just baffling to me. There is no logical reason why bringing in a defensive midfielder would have any negative impact on the club.

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