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Manchester United targeting three key areas in Sir Jim Ratcliffe summer overhaul

Manchester United targeting four key areas in Sir Jim Ratcliffe summer overhaul
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has work to do in the summer transfer window - Peter Byrne/PA

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s summer revamp at Manchester United is to see them target a striker and defenders for the right side of their defence.

Ratcliffe’s 27.7 per cent ownership and control of football operations has seen United move for Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth to oversee transfers but with a deal still to be agreed, the current recruitment team have looked at key positions in the first-team in need of strengthening.

Striker

It is understood United have been assessing centre-forwards to support Rasmus Hojlund, who has delivered on his promise in the last two months but is Erik ten Hag’s only orthodox striker.

Hojlund’s training-ground injury, which has ruled him out for up to three weeks, saw Marcus Rashford struggle up front in the 2-1 defeat by Fulham on Saturday, with Anthony Martial also out until April after groin surgery.

Defence

United are also in the market for a right-back and a right-sided centre-back to bolster their backline. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has one season left on his contract and has shared right-back duties with Diogo Dalot this season. Dalot has also covered on the other flank after Luke Shaw’s injury.

At centre-back, Raphael Varane has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia and has a year left on his contract, as has Victor Lindelof. Harry Maguire’s terms also expire in 2025, albeit with an option for an extra year, while Jonny Evans was signed for cover this season.

Midfield

While Ratcliffe has invested more than £1 billion to co-own United, spending to get United back to the top will be bound by the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules, which is an important factor of the club’s transfer strategy.

While the striker, right-back and centre-back positions have been the priority, they could also be in the market for a midfielder depending on the future of Casemiro. The Brazil international has also attracted interest from the Saudi Pro League and his departure would mean a gap in the squad that needs filling.

Manchester United targeting four key areas in Sir Jim Ratcliffe summer overhaul
Casemiro is another player that could leave Man Utd - Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ten Hag discussed future transfer windows after the Fulham defeat which dented United’s hopes of the Champions League qualification that would help attract players. The Dutch coach said his team will be better with players returning from injury, but also when they “strengthen the squad in the transfer windows” with “real high-potential players”.

One of Ten Hag’s first big signings was Brazil winger Antony, who has fallen so far down the pecking order that he was only brought on in the 99th minute of the Fulham defeat. Amad, 21, was brought on ahead of him and Omari Forson, 19, started the match.

Antony had one touch of the ball, passing to Alejandro Garnacho in the final action of the defeat. Garnacho stormed straight down the tunnel after the final whistle after ignoring his team-mates following the crushing defeat, with United 10th in the Premier League this season.


Harry Maguire: I should have fouled Adama Traore

United centre-back Harry Maguire admitted his team were “naive” after cancelling out Calvin Bassey’s opener and chasing a victory, only for Alex Iwobi to score a dramatic late winner, which was set up by Adama Traore’s 50-yard run and assist.

“In hindsight now we can say we should have been more cautious, we were far too naive, we can look back and assess it in terms of areas we can improve on but ultimately over the 90 minutes we didn’t do enough to win the game,” said Maguire.

“I was on a booking myself. In hindsight again, maybe I should have just brought him [Traore] down but then you miss next week. It is easy to say now.”

For the winner, Ten Hag blamed the team failing to cover for Lindelof being out of position when he was high up the pitch when Fulham had a throw.

“There was no counter. They had a throw-in and we didn’t take the right positions,” said Ten Hag. “Actually, one player didn’t take the right position but then we should manage this in the team so they can’t escape out of the corner.”

Fulham boss Marco Silva won the tactical battle with Ten Hag by dominating the midfield area even with Joao Palhinha suspended. Sasa Lukic and Harrison Reed outnumbered United, Iwobi tucked in from the left and Andreas Pereira was their most creative player.

“We gave more freedom to Andreas Pereira to play in some moments side by side with Harrison Reed and Sasa Lukic, and without Joao that can cover a lot of kilometres on the pitch and big areas,” said Silva.

“We try to change some things to be compact in that area. The two midfielders instead of one did very good work. We won that really important battle. Alex Iwobi was pushed inside, he didn’t always play on the left, he came inside to win that battle in the middle. The players understood it.”

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