Man Utd backed to rival Liverpool for title as Solskjaer sent four-player transfer demand
Manchester United have been backed by club legend Gary Neville to potentially – but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been told he must sign as many as four “quality players” in the summer transfer window.
Before the coronavirus crisis suspended the Premier League, Liverpool sat 25 points clear atop the table with a staggering 37 points between the Reds and 20-time top-flight champions United.
The Red Devils have endured an indifferent campaign and at one point looked highly likely to miss out on Champions League qualification for the fifth time in the past seven seasons.
But United’s outlook has looked much rosier since the addition of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon in January, with Solskjaer and co. up in fifth and on a good run of form – at least before the league’s ongoing break.
The 25-year-old Portugal international had an immediate impact on the Red Devils in an attacking midfield role, producing two goals and three assists in five Premier League matches – including eye-catching wins over Manchester City and Chelsea.
And such is Neville’s optimism, he believes his former team-mate Solskjaer could even restore United to title-challenging status.
United have not truly contested for the biggest available domestic honour since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement after winning the club’s 20th title in 2013.
Yet former full-back Neville is confident that may all change, though insists United must get it right in the transfer market to catch up to the league’s recent pace-setters Manchester City and Liverpool.
“United have found it hard to keep prices and wages down but they will be in a really strong position to hold their nerve this summer,” the Sky Sports pundit told The Football Show.
“It will be really important, they had found some form before this and the glass looked half full than half empty and being 30 points or whatever it is off Liverpool.
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“I am starting to feel confident United could challenge next season.
“They need to add three or four quality players to that and United will be able to capitalise on the market this summer, to do some business.”
One situation that could dominate United’s summer window is the future of midfielder and club-record signing Paul Pogba, who publicly revealed his desire to leave the club a year ago.
No move transpired for the Frenchman, however, and his interested suitors – Real Madrid and Juventus – may turn elsewhere this summer given Pogba’s price tag.
At least that’s what Neville believes, as he added: “The direction all season of Pogba’s career was always facing away from Manchester in the sense that there was so much speculation and his agent was coming out all the time.
“And now with what’s happened, coronavirus and the economic reset in football, what clubs are going to be able to buy Paul Pogba for the reputed £80m, £100m fees that were being thrown around?
“Which clubs are going to be paying the huge wages he’s on at Manchester United?
“I’m not diminishing him as a player, I’m just talking about the economic situation the whole world finds itself in.
“Paul Pogba may have to, and may want to, sit at Manchester United for the next 12 to 18 months, and look at the fact he’s at a club he can play with Bruno Fernandes, Fred, [Scott] McTominay, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, De Gea, Rashford, Greenwood, Rashford.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, is confident that Pogba and Fernandes can play together in a midfield three despite the duo’s similar attack-minded mentalities.
“Good players can always play together, so definitely, they can – it’s a big yes,” he said when asked if the duo can line up in tandem.
“I think it’s exciting… we do have an exciting squad. I’ve got Scott, Fred, Nemanja [Matic].There’s many games coming up and I’m sure we can find a good connection between them.
“We’ve been discussing that as a coaching team of course, and we’re looking forward to it.
“Of course Bruno coming in, making the impact he made, it was a boost for everyone, the club, supporters and players. Getting Paul and Marcus Rashford back would be fantastic.
“Paul has had a difficult season with injuries, and Marcus as well is getting back. So for us, and for them too, this gives them a chance to start on a par or even ahead of other players.”
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