If rumour from The Independent’s Miguel Delaney is to be believed, Manchester United are considering prioritising a backup striker who bears resemblance to the physical qualities offered by Romelu Lukaku rather than addressing, in my eyes, a far more critical area.
United have failed to have an established, high-level left-back in their ranks since arguably Patrice Evra. Many have tried: Fabio Da Silva, Alexander Buttner, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw have all been given a gig in the problematic area and have not been sustainable options.
As such, Mourinho has had to shoehorn Ashley Young, a former winger, to plug the hole. Evra left United for Juventus for £1.2M in the summer of 2014. That his name is still mentioned four years down the line shows how inadequate his line of successors have been, Diogo Dalot has figured at left-back for FC Porto but is largely viewed as Antonio Valencia’s understudy. The futures of Darmian, Blind and Shaw are up in the air with the former linked with a return to his homeland with Juventus.
Speaking of the Old Lady, their left-back Alex Sandro has been widely linked with a move to United and is certainly of the calibre required to finally end the post-Evra curse. His omission from the Brazil World Cup squad has hypothetically made a deal easier to pursue and complete.
When you read United are bewilderingly willing to splurge fortunes on Marko Arnautovic, the mere notion that United do not consider the left-back position to be high priority is totally nonsensical.
Here’s the thing, why prioritise one over the other?
United are not struggling for funds and surgery is needed to claw back distance on City. As commendable as Young has been, a former winger at full-back is not a recipe for success. Imagine Eden Hazard at right-back or Mohamed Salah at left-back and you get the idea.
In a Louis van Gaal era which was lambasted by Mourinho for its so-called ‘multi-functionality’, the need for specialists could not be clearer.
There are alternatives if Sandro cannot be acquired- the likes of Tierney at Celtic and Danny Rose at Spurs have also been touted. As unlikely as it seems, even Luke Shaw getting another go would not be universally disapproved by United fans.
The rumours of course may not have foundation and United might well as we speak be scouring the world for a new left-back but, with all due respect, Mourinho cannot honestly be content to go with Ashley Young as his first-choice left-back next season.
If that’s the case, United are once again not addressing their most pressing needs.
If United do not have a specialist left-back, they could get left behind once again.