It&aposs already happened this season with the signings of Sergio Reguilon and Jonny Evans. For years now United have relied on loans, free agents and signings no other top team would touch to compensate for their incompetence.
Sometimes problems can&apost be foreseen or helped. You&aposre unlucky if you&aposre two senior left-backs get injured at the same time and you have to sign some cover. But the fact this continues to happen to United betrays their lowly status in comparison to the teams they&aposre aiming to compete with.
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You don&apost see Manchester City scrambling for players on loan. Arsenal aren&apost dipping down into the bargain bin to see what they can find. Liverpool are never scrapping the free-agent barrel out of desperation. But for years United have been.
It&aposs unbefitting of a club that wants to be elite and they&aposre probably going to have to do it again at some point over the next few months. Circumstances have fallen cruelly, even if United have hardly helped themselves, and they&aposre now without any senior right-wingers despite spending over 160m on the position in recent years.
Antony is currently on a leave of absence after facing allegations of abuse from three women in Brazil and Erik ten Hag has &aposno idea&apos when he&aposll be back. Jadon Sancho is out of the first-team squad indefinitely and might never play for the club again after a bust-up with the manager.
That leaves United with just two options at right wing, the young and inexperienced pair of Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri. Even one of those is unavailable due to injury.
So there is an obvious need for United to bring in reinforcements in the position but their limited budget means they will once again have to dig in the mud for one. Given the wild players United have signed and targeted – Ten Hag wanted Marko Arnautovic a year ago – it&aposs pretty much impossible to rule anyone out, and that&aposs where the fun begins.
The obvious place to start when considering who United could sign is to look through all the players Ten Hag has worked with in the past. Of the 11 players Ten Hag has signed permanently since taking over at Old Trafford, four had previously played for him, two had already trained under him and he was familiar with two more from his time in the Netherlands. That doesn&apost even include Weghorst.
But when it comes to wingers who could be in United&aposs price range in January, the options are few. Obvious candidates Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech (targeted last year) are off the table after completing moves in the summer. That leaves the likes of David Neres, Spartak Moscow&aposs Quincy Promes and maybe even Ryan Babel – who&aposll be 37 at Christmas – as half-plausible additions.
Even then, Neres is contracted at Benfica until 2027 so probably unattainable, deals with Russian clubs are difficult-to-impossible due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and former Liverpool man Babel, in the twilight of his career, has played in Turkey for the last three years.
Though there are quite a lot of recognisable names still available on the Bosman market, it doesn&apost make for particularly exciting reading. The club rejected the chance to sign Anwar El Ghazi when he was offered by his agent but that was before Sancho&aposs chances of playing again were reduced further. The former Aston Villa man is still without a club and does tick the former Ajax player box at least.
Former United man Jesse Lingard is also a free agent after being released by Nottingham Forest in the summer, as is fellow former England international Andros Townsend. Eden Hazard is a much more exciting name but his career looks to be coming to a sad conclusion and he was better on the left anyway.
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The most intriguing free agent available is former Sevilla forward Papu Gomez, who was a member of the Argentina World Cup-winning squad but is now looking for a new club. At his peak, he was an incredibly quick, exciting, skilful and versatile forward but is now 35 and would likely struggle to adapt to the Premier League.