Who could be entering the Old Trafford doors next season? A look into Manchester United's transfer targets for 2022
Following an historic summer transfer which saw both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi leave their respective clubs, the summer of 2022 promises to similarly follow in its footsteps – particularly for Manchester United.
After the homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside his former Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane and the eventual capture of Jadon Sancho, we look at who could be Manchester United’s transfer targets for 2022.
Erling-Braut Haaland – Borussia Dortmund
A player who fellow Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solksjaer knows all too well and a player who needs no introduction.
Though Haaland’s monumental rise to fame took place only two years ago when his Champions League performances caught the eye with RB Salzburg, Solskjaer has been an admirer long before the world was formally introduced to Dortmund’s prized asset.
In the small Norwegian city of Molde which holds a population of just 26,000 people, then-Molde FK manager Solksjaer was nurturing a player who would become one of the top European strikers on the planet just two years later.
After the former Manchester United man handed Haaland his debut in 2018 aged 16, he later went on to score 20 goals in 50 games which earned him a move to Swiss side RB Salzburg which is where his rise in stock truly began.
“I remember him [aged 16] brushing off and putting our centre-back and central midfielders, massive lads, he put them on the floor and asked them to get up. He’s a winner”Ole Gunnar Solksjaer
The Norwegian forward became the quickest player to reach 10 goals in Champions League history after scoring eight goals in the group stages against the likes of Napoli and Liverpool, achieving the feat in only seven games as a teenager.
Following a fierce battle for this signature in 2020 between Manchester United and Dortmund, it was the German club who prevailed.
This was followed by – obviously – a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut for Borussia Dortmund after coming on as a substitute. It could be suggested he’s a boy who knows where the goal is.
At the age of just 20-years-old, the striker has now firmly set his name amongst the world’s best as an elite forward as his goal record continues to quite literally break records in Germany and in the Champions League.
Since arriving from RB Salzburg in January 2020, Haaland has played 47 games across all competitions, scoring 47 goals. However, following Manchester United’s capture of their own former starboy Cristiano Ronaldo, will he be needed at Old Trafford in the foreseeable future?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Role
After the world watched the pendulum swing from blue to red over the space of 48 hours, Ronaldo’s shock move back to the club which started his own pathway to stardom poses some interesting questions.
Following Edinson Cavani signing a one-year extension with the club and handing the number seven shirt to the Portuguese forward after quickly becoming a cult hero with some vital goals last season at the age of 34, it was thought of as a potential stop-gap for when Haaland is available next summer.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo became available.
It has been widely reported that the Dortmund forward has a €75m-100m release clause in his contract which is due to activate in the summer of 2022.
After the Portuguese forward signed a two-year contract with the option to extend for a further year, it may be the perfect opportunity to begin the transition for the future when Ronaldo enters the final year of his contract.
The question remains as to whether Haaland is still part of Manchester United’s plans, though they face intense competition alongside Bayern Munich who may look to replace Robert Lewandowski, plus Real Madrid who already have Kylian Mbappe lined up on a free transfer next summer.
Aurelien Tchouameni – AS Monaco
As France continues to churn out supremely talented young players, many established with their clubs such as Jules Kounde and Dayot Upamecano are having to settle for the French U23 side due to the high competition for places in the Didier Deschamp’s senior squad.
The talent pool couldn’t be deeper, though Aurelien Tchouameni is rising straight to the top.
After the defensive-midfielder’s £16m move from Bordeaux to Monaco in January 2020, his development has taken meteoric leaps.
The Frenchman was a vital cog in Niko Kovac’s side who achieved a third-place finish in Ligue 1 last season. With one goal and one assist, he takes a more disciplined role as a defence-minded midfielder which Manchester United currently lack.
With that being said, he is more than comfortable making driving runs forward which adds a different side to his game when on the attack which provides a different angle to his game.
After being named the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year it’s no surprise that a host a European clubs are remaining watchful and will remain a key Manchester United transfer target.
Monaco would command a similar fee to that of Fabinho who joined Liverpool for £39m in 2018 though these demands may increase next summer if he can continue his impressive form from last season.
Declan Rice – West Ham
The midfielder has enjoyed an impressive rise since his debut for West Ham in 2017, featuring regularly in the England national side and becoming a cult hero for his club.
Rice was a focal point in the midfield during the Hammers’ impressive campaign last season which saw them qualify for the Europa League.
Demonstrating his impressive passing range, shooting capabilities and leadership on the pitch consistently, it’s no surprise both Chelsea and Manchester United remain closely linked with the 22-year-old.
His strong ties with Chelsea go back to his teenage days when he was released from the Blues in 2014 aged just 14 where his friendship with former academy team mate Mason Mount began.
Despite this, a move across London would be the most logical scenario, though Chelsea don’t seem to have the midfielder firmly in their plans after signing Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid on Deadline Day.
For United, it may represent a direct route to signing the England international although competition for his signature is not the toughest hurdle to cross.
West Ham will command a fee in the region of £70m to allow their star asset to depart whose contract doesn’t expire until 2024, giving the Hammers plenty of leverage in their corner.
“Whoever buys Declan Rice buys someone who’s going to be there and committed for 10 years and be a driver of the right culture at your club”Rio Ferdinand, Five Youtube Channel
According the The Telegraph, Declan Rice has been left frustrated at West Ham’s obscenely high valuation of him which is pricing him out of a move away from the club.
With Manchester United in need of a high level defensive midfielder, Rice would represent a guarantee and long-term plan, though comes with the English premium price-tag which the club may be reluctant to pay.
Yves Bissouma – Brighton
The Malian was a standout midfielder in the Premier League last season as his stock continues to rise with every performance for Brighton.
After signing from LOSC Lille for a £15m fee in 2018, Bissouma began life in England inconsistently. Yet since last season he has seen an unprecedented growth with his assured performances from the midfield.
His ability to break opposition lines, intelligence on the ball and impressive defensive attributes make Bissouma a secure solution to a midfield in need of protection.
“He’s got incredible potential, he’s got incredible talent, he’s got the attributes to play midfield in any game in the world”Brighton Manager Graham Potter in April 2021
Having gained £50m in the summer through the sale of defender Ben White to Arsenal, Graham Potter’s side are under no pressure to sell the midfielder.
Following intense speculation over the summer with links to Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and even Spanish giants Real Madrid, the player still remained at the club with a reported £50m fee demanded for the 25-year old.
For Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side, he would be considered a cheaper alternative though a player who looks comfortable in the Premier League which holds it’s own value.
Eyes will be firmly on whether the Malian can build upon his impressive year and with his contract expiring in 2023, Brighton’s hand may be forced next summer if Bissouma does not sign a new deal.
Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund
It’s not often you hear of a 17-year old having their shirt retired by a club, but it is testament to the Birmingham-born midfielder’s incredible growth in an extremely small time-frame – a player playing beyond his years.
It was a two-way battle between Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund for the England international who had only just completed his first season with Birmingham City.
Despite he and his parents visiting the Red Devils training facilities, Bellingham opted for the German side after a £25m bid was accepted.
The main factor in the midfielders choice was playing time which Dortmund could offer, and his decision has led to him becoming the youngest English player to score in the Champions League, alongside being called up for the England EURO 2020 squad.
Bellingham is an extremely versatile midfielder who could play as a number six or a number eight due to his technical and passing abilities.
Though he is less of a defensive-minded player, Bellingham may become Manchester United’s transfer target should Paul Pogba refuse to sign a new contract at the club which expires next summer.
After being voted as the Bundesliga’s best newcomer for the 2020/21 season, the 18-year old will command a fee similar to that of his former Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho who joined Solskjaer’s side for £73m.
“We are a football club, not a bank”Borussia Dortmund Director – Michael Zorc
Dortmund’s ‘football first, business second’ approach has been strong in the past, holding out for €120m in 2020 for Sancho and subsequently accepting a €90m offer from United the following summer.
As with Erling Haaland who was linked with a monstrous €200m bid from Paris-Saint Germain and Chelsea this summer which was firmly rebuffed by Dortmund, the German club are determined to hold onto their key assets.
At only 18 and with his stock continuing to rise, Bellingham may end up retiring more shirts than he expected in his career.