Jose Mourinho is ready to splash the cash at Manchester United
One is to improve United’s goal output – they have managed only 42 in 26 Premier League games so far – the other is to find a long-term successor for midfield anchorman Michael Carrick, who says he is likely to retire if United do not offer him a one-year extension.
On the attacking front, Manchester United have long been favourites to sign Antoine Griezmann and are ready to press the £86million release clause in the Atletico Madrid and France striker’s contract as soon as the season ends.
They are also monitoring Romelu Lukaku’s situation at Everton. Even though Zlatan Ibrahimovic has dropped a big hint he is set to stay at Old Trafford for a second season, the veteran Swede can’t go on forever and next season is likely to be his last at the top level.
How Man United could look with Antoine Griezmann
Thu, March 23, 2017
Is this how Manchester United's squad could look with Antoine Griezmann
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Is this how Manchester United could look with Antoine Griezmann
So United need a long-term successor for their centre forward and even though Jose Mourinho sold Lukaku at the start of his second spell at Chelsea, the big Belgian ticks all the boxes – pace, strength, skill and an eye for goal that has seen him score 100 times in 195 games over the last five seasons.
Lukaku, who has indicated he won’t sign a new contract at Everton, wants Champions League football so United would have to either finish in the top four or win the Europa League to entice him away from Goodison Park and other suitors.
Mourinho knows that if United had had more of a killer instinct they would be challenging Chelsea for the title and not struggling for a top-four place. They have dominated all seven of their costly home draws this season but have spurned chances to turn them into wins.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is a target for Manchester United
They have been too reliant on Ibrahimovic’s goals although Mourinho expects youngsters Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to be more productive next season after enduring ‘second-season syndrome.’
As for Carrick’s replacement as a holding midfielder, Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko is on United’s transfer radar as is his team-mate Fabinho.
Bakayoko embellished his reputation with impressive games as the French club ended Manchester City’s Champions League hopes, scoring the header in the second leg at the Stade Louis II that put City out on away goals.
Like Griezmann, United will face intense competition from Europe’s elite clubs for Bakayoko but he is keen to work under a big-name manager like Mourinho.
Monace ace Tiemoue Bakayoko is wanted by Jose Mourinho
And the fact that his close pal Anthony Martial is at Old Trafford could prove to be United’s trump card.
Martial played with Bakayoko for a season at Monaco before his switch to United and posted a congratulatory message on Twitter after his goal against City.
Significantly, much of Bakayoko’s development is down to the influence of Claude Makelele, Monaco’s former technical director. Makelele, of course, was the key midfield lynchpin of Mourinho's early success in his first spell at Stamford Bridge and his ‘pupil’ Bakayoko could prove a crucial addition for United.
Mourinho was spotted watching Inter Milan winger-come-striker Ivan Perisic play for Croatia during the international break and other players he has been linked with are PSG pair Marco Veratti and Adrien Rabiot plus Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez as well as Willian, although Chelsea would be loathe to let the Brazilian join a domestic rival.
Manchester United transfers: Most likely summer deals
Tue, March 28, 2017
Express Sport brings you the most likely Manchester United summer deals according to Betfair
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John Terry – 100/1
Defensively, United have been fairly solid this season and look well blessed for centre-backs with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. But that might not stop Mourinho from pursuing his long-held interest in Benfica’s Victor Lindelof or Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane.
Mourinho has insisted Luke Shaw has all the qualities to become United’s No 1 left-back but with the caveat that he needs to work harder on his game.
He is clearly yet to be convinced by the former Southampton player so it would be not be a major surprise if he brought in another left back. Danny Rose would be perfect but prising him out of Tottenham is likely to prove nigh on impossible at this stage.