Although the past few weeks has seen a slight dip in form, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit the ground running with Manchester United in 2019. After taking over for Jose Mourinho at the end of December, Solskjaer has won 15 of his 22 matches, which equates to a win percentage of nearly 70%. But in nearly every position on the pitch, it is very evident that upgrades are needed. Fullbacks in Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are in the twilight of their career, while Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw have never quite been able to cement their legacy at Manchester United as fans might have hoped. Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku have been inconsistent, Ander Herrera unfortunately looks to be on his way out and if the rumour mills have it their way Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian could all be set for departures as well. It is unquestionable that Manchester United need to freshen up their squad in the summer and they should look no further than these five players in order to do that.
BEN CHILWELLEmbed from Getty Images
Ben Chilwell has arguably been the best left-back in the league this season and has now nailed down a starting spot in Gareth Southgate’s England. When Claude Puel came into Leicester and favoured Chilwell over the experienced, Premier League winning fullback Christian Fuchs, it appeared to be a strange decision. However, the Leicester City fullback has looked calm and composed for the Foxes this season and has accelerated his game to even higher levels since the arrival of Brendan Rogers. Manchester United are in need of upgrades in both fullback positions and Ben Chilwell would be a fantastic replacement for years to come.
Harry Maguire has been linked with Manchester United ever since his arrival at Leicester City and this summer might be the perfect time to purchase the 26-year old. A threat in both penalty boxes and an intelligent passer of the ball, Maguire has very few things wrong with his game. The accomplished centre-back is one of the best ball-playing centre halves not only in the Premier League, but possibly in world football right now and would make for a fantastic partner to the rough and rugged Victor Lindelof.
Another player who just seems to be perpetually linked to Manchester United, Gareth Bale would be a fantastic addition to Manchester United’s start-studded lineup. He could play out wide, up front, in a three, in a two or all by himself. Gareth Bale has so much quality and his record at Real Madrid despite almost never being a regular starter speaks for itself. The Welsh forward has never been a favourite under Zinedine Zidane and now with the Frenchman back in charge perhaps Bale will be looking to move on to pastures new and finally make his move to Old Trafford. Although it would be a hefty, potentially record-breaking fee for a Premier League player, Manchester United should do everything in their power to acquire the services of Gareth Bale this off-season.
AARON WAN-BISSAKAEmbed from Getty Images
Speaking of fullbacks who have stood out in the 2018-19 Premier League campaign, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has established himself as one of the very best right-backs this season. The 21-year old remains only behind Wilfred Ndidi and Idrissa Gueye for most successful tackles this season, while accumulating less yellow cards than both. This looks an even more impressive fear given he played as a striker just two seasons ago. He’s featured in 30 Premier League matches this season for Crystal Palace and might feature in even more if he makes a move to Old Trafford this summer. Although still developing, Wan-Bissaka could be the perfect long term replacement for Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young at right-fullback. If not, Thomas Meunier might be a good replacement for the meantime until Wan-Bissaka is ready for the challenge.
One of the surprises of the 2018-19 Premier League season has been just how assured and comfortable Declan Rice has looked in the number 6 role at West Ham United. He’s performed brilliantly under Manuel Pellegrini and has helped the Chilean coach implement a functional 4-1-4-1 system, to which the British midfielder is the one in front of the back four. His role has been something of a midfield destroyer, making the 6th most amount of tackles in the league this season, while providing a screen for West Ham’s shaky back-four. Rice has been so effective in the role that he’s now earned himself 2 caps for Southgate’s England. At 20-years old, the future certainly looks bright for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and if the Norwegian manager wishes to revert back to a 4-4-2 diamond, Declan Rice could be the perfect player to play the role of the pivot in front of the back-four.
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See where Gareth Bale and Harry Maguire rank on our 2018 list of the Top 100 Footballers.