Manchester United have been named as one of three favourites to win the Champions League by pundit Paul Merson. The former Arsenal star has previously been highly critical of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but has now insisted that only two sides in Europe are better placed to take home the prize.
The club was dealt a heartbreaking blow in the Europa League final loss to Villarreal earlier this year but the Premier League season, which ended in a joint-highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson left, meant that United qualified for the Champions League in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2013.
Sky Sports pundit and columnist Paul Merson has now suggested that United are well placed to win the Champions League this season, arguing that their style of play suits European football more than the Premier League.
Manchester United have also added Jadon Sancho to their squad with Raphael Varane expected to join imminently, something also considered by Merson.
“I’ve gone for Manchester United as one of the top five contenders for the UEFA Champions League in the 2021-22 season and I’ll explain why,” Merson wrote in his Sportskeeda column as he explained his decision to list United at number three in his top five teams to win the tournament.
“I know they were knocked out in the group stages last season, but the way they play suits UCL football more than the Premier League.
“They counterattack as well as anyone in Europe and have a squad that has match-winners across the pitch with the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
“Sancho adds a bit more guile to the team, while Varane is an experienced defender who will not only allow them to play a higher line but also complement Harry Maguire perfectly.
“Manchester United are the biggest club in world football in my opinion, so I’m not going to call them dark-horses. They’ve gone almost eight years without winning the Premier League or the UEFA Champions League and that could so easily become 15 or 20 if they don’t take the initiative.
“They look like a strong team and it goes without saying that each one of their forwards, barring Edinson Cavani, are incredibly quick! I don’t know if Manchester United will win the Premier League title, but when you look at the way they play, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the UEFA Champions League.”
Solskjaer and his side started the group stage with aplomb last season, kicking off their campaign with comprehensive victories against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. A loss to Istanbul derailed their season, however, and losses in both reverse fixtures confirmed demotion to the Europa League.