Manchester United were a club in crisis before Jose Mourinho was sacked, and although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer initially steadied the ship once he seized control of his former stomping ground, the Red Devils are still a far cry from a unit ready to compete at the top again.
Now, the Norwegian is tasked with tackling the transfer market to find new sport combinations that will help to solidify the leaky defence at Old Trafford, and two men who appear to be on his radar to plug the hole in the middle are West Ham United’s Declan Rice, and more recently Newcastle United academy graduate Sean Longstaff.
Rice has long been considered a target of the United boss, as he looks to reignite his side with home-grown talents that will fill the voids left by his under-achieving and high-earning stars.
Longstaff, on the other hand, appeared to enter Solskjaer’s projected plans more recently, but was instantly scrubbed with claims that United have no interest in the Magpies star who enjoyed an, albeit brief, breakthrough campaign under Rafa Benitez this season as he made just nine appearances in all competitions.
The only thing with a move for either, though, is that Solskjaer does not hold a track record of being the type of manager who can turn these future stars into world beaters, and has instead already begun to frustrate the home-grown talents in his ranks like Marcus Rashford.
The Three Lions striker has delayed holding discussions with United over extending his contract, as he fears the most decorated English top-flight side are no longer heading in the right direction, and would prefer to see if the club are intent on pushing their name back into the top four before he commits his future.
Signs like this should act as a warning signal to the likes of Rice and Longstaff, who are by no means the finished article, and would be arriving at Old Trafford with a mountain to climb but the wrong equipment in their hands and an instructor who is still struggling to remove his training wheels.
What United need more so than these rough diamonds while Solskjaer is at the helm is finished articles, too, especially in such a key position as holding midfield. And for the money either West Ham or Newcastle would demand, it is hard to see how Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward can justify their capture.
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