Man Utd would have world-class XI if Solskjaer, Rangnick and Ten Hag signed who they wanted
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Manchester United managers past and present have long hinted that they have struggled to sign their primary transfer targets at Old Trafford.
In an interview with the Athletic, former United boss Solskjaer insisted it was hard to get the player he wanted while in charge of the club.
Indeed, when pushed on the players he had wanted most during his ill-fated two-year spell at the helm, Solskjaer name-checked the likes of Erling Haaland, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.
The Norwegian’s successors, Ralf Rangnick and Erik ten Hag have also, at various points, suggested they had missed out on their preferred targets while at Old Trafford.
This had us thinking - what would United’s first XI look like had Solskjaer, Rangnick and Erik ten Hag signed their primary targets? Probably, something like the one below.
Onana is United’s current No.1, with the club having completed the £47.2million signing of a goalkeeper from Inter this summer.
Ten Hag was thought to be the prime mover in United sealing the move, with the pair having worked together at Ajax, where they won three league titles, two KNVB Cups together and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
Again, a member of United’s current crop, Wan-Bissaka was signed by Solskjaer in 2019 for an initial £45million from Crystal Palace. After topsy-turvy time at Old Trafford, the right-back has managed to fight his way into Ten Hag’s first-team.
While an exceptional one-vs-one defender, his inclusion is perhaps an indication that United have not been linked to many high-profile right-backs in the past few years.
Last season, in his debut Serie A campaign, Kim became a key cog in Napoli's first Scudetto in 33 years.
It had been widely claimed that Ten Hag had identified Kim as a primary target for the summer, only for the 26-year-old to opt for a move to Bayern Munich.
Martinez has gained a cult-like status since signing for United from Ajax last summer.
While he has so far struggled to replicate last season’s form this campaign, Ten Hag pushed for Martinez’s signature amid criticism from certain quarters that the Argentina World Cup winner was too short to play centre-back in the Premier League.
Gvardiol signed for United’s bitter rivals Manchester City this summer in a deal worth £77.6million and while he is a centre-back by trade, he has operated as a left-back for Pep Guardiola’s side this term. That’s where he’ll play in this team.
Rangnick told Bild last October that he told United to sign the then-Leipzig star, who has been tipped to be one of the best defenders in world football in the coming years.
Bellingham, now of Real Madrid, has simultaneously become the darling of English and Spanish football at the tender age of 20.
United were among a score of clubs hoping to sign Bellingham this summer, while the youngster had come close to joining United as a 17-year-old after a meeting with Solskjaer and club legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona.
Solskjaer told the Athletic: “We wanted Jude Bellingham badly — he’s a Man United player, but I respect he chose Dortmund. That was probably sensible.”
Rice is another player who had been linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer, only to secure a high-profile transfer elsewhere. In Rice’s case, he made the move from West Ham to Arsenal for some £105million.
Solskjaer name-checked the England international as someone United had hoped to sign during his tenure.
Fernandez briefly became the most expensive player in Premier League history when he moved to Chelsea from Benfica for £106.8million in January.
Fernandez was another player said to have been suggested by Rangnick.
The Argentina international, rather generously gets into this team ahead of United club captain Bruno Fernandes. That’s mainly because this is only a bit of fun.
Rashford was United’s talisman last season, becoming the first player since Robin van Persie a decade earlier to claim 30 goals in all competitions.
There's no way he's not getting into this side.
Both Ten Hag and Solskjaer wanted to sign Harry Kane during their respective spells in charge, only for the England captain to end up at Bayern. Solskjaer and Rangnick however have also both admitted to having wanted Haaland during their tenures.
It was a tough choice, but Haaland makes this side, based on his youth, the fact he scored 52 goals for City last term, and given he quite frankly plays football like he’s superhuman.
Diaz has been an electric presence on the Liverpool flank since signing for the Reds in January 2022.
The Colombia international, who Rangnick wanted to sign while United manager, made an explosive start to life in English football, until his 2022/23 campaign was derailed by a long-term injury.
While a left-winger by trade, I’m going to stick the 26-year-old on the right flank, to allow Rashford to play in his favoured position.
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