BY FRANK GARRASI
It’s no secret that Manchester United’s current squad is in no shape to challenge for the title, regardless of its current league position.
With Antonio Valencia at right back and Ashley Young, who is actually in decent form lately, at left back, United cannot continue to win games.
However, given the Red Devils’ horror injury crisis that seems to be as persistent as Anderson’s woeful form, United is not in need of that big a shake up as players will eventually return to fitness.
The three areas on the pitch that need new additions are at right back, centre back, and in defensive midfield.
At right back, the only recognised personnel are injury prone Rafael and 19 year old Saidy Janko, who made his senior debut in the humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup this season.
Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia are all capable of filling in at right back, however this is not their best position.
VfB Stuttgart’s Gōtoku Sakai, an attacking full back who went to the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Japan, would be available in January for possibly under £10 million.
Sakai is one of the best right backs in the Bundesliga and a regular fixture for bottom club VfB Stuttgart.
Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne would be more familiar to United fans as well as those who watch the Barclays Premier League.
Given Clyne’s meteoric rise in recent times from middle-table club right back to full England international and possible starter for the Euro 2016, he would command a much higher transfer fee than Sakai; possibly between £15 – £20 million, and United may have to wait until August to snap him up.
Given the inconsistent form and injury prone nature of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, United need a centre back, preferably in January.
FC Basel’s Fabian Schär may be the composed presence that slots into the back three or four and becomes a key member of Louis van Gaal’s squad.
At only 22 years of age, Schär already has plenty of domestic as well as international experience, being a regular first team member during Switzerland’s run to the Round of 16 in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
With only six months remaining on Schär’s contract, he would be the bargain of the season, however he is currently being sought after by Juventus, Arsenal and many more.
He will be available in January for under £10 million or for free in August.
Steven Caulker, one of the most underrated players in England, has plenty of Premier League experience with Swansea, Tottenham, Cardiff and currently QPR.
Still only 22, Caulker would comfortably slot into United’s defence and, standing at 6’3”, would provide some much needed height to the team.
His price tag is unclear at the moment and he would only be available in August, however for a bargain of between £5 – £10 million if QPR gets relegated.
Defensive midfield is a soft spot for United, with the currently injured Daley Blind and a 33 year old Michael Carrick the only options there.
There are many options in defensive midfield for the Red Devils to buy, most however only being available in August.
One of these options that would be available in January is Brazilian Lucas Silva, who plays at the recently crowned Brazilian Serie A champions Cruzeiro.
Lucas Silva has been linked to Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, and would be available for £12 million. The player himself though has stated his dream move would be to Real.
The 21 year olds’ best traits are his vision, long range passing and reading of the play, which would benefit any top club in Europe.
William Carvalho is the other player that would be available in January, however for £22 million.
The transfer would also be complicated by third party ownership as well as Arsenal, who is also following the player with serious interest.
Victor Wanyama of Southampton, Geoffrey Kondogbia of AS Monaco, and Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen are the other options, all of whom will possibly be available in August for around £20 million.
These three players as well as William Carvalho are destroyers who sit in front of the back four, break up opposition attacks, and cover good positions when the full backs get forward.
They have all been capped by their respective countries, have played in the Champions League, and are the type of player United must sign in order to provide some much needed balance to the side.
A new addition each at right back, centre back, and in defensive midfield are the minimum for Ed Woodward to pursue in January to help Manchester United keep up its assault on the top four.
Also, with key players such as Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria to return from injury, the Red Devils may be able to build a team capable of challenging for the title in 2015/16.