Every transfer window, Manchester United are linked to masses of players, and that has only enhanced this January with Erik ten Hag’s side struggling to live up to the high standards of a Red Devils team.
Nevertheless, the focus for this window will be on outgoings rather than arrivals, but the boss is still keen to make at least one addition to help his side recover from their disappointing first half of the season, which sees them sit in seventh in the Premier League.
In fairness to the boss, injuries have played a role in preventing him from fielding his best side this season. That said, things are beginning to look more positive behind the scenes with Omar Berrada, previously of rivals Manchester City set to replace Richard Arnold as the club’s new CEO.
Having previously helped broker deals for Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two when it comes to the transfer window. Thus, what could United’s dream starting XI look like once Berrada’s had a chance to get his feet under the table when he arrives later in the year?
GK – Andre Onana
United’s number one shot-stopper, Andre Onana, will continue to start in between the sticks.
The former Ajax star has kept the joint second-most clean sheets in the Premier League, despite dealing with plenty of critics.
RB – Diogo Dalot
Diogo Dalot will face stiff competition from Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the right-back spot, but the Portuguese should start over the English full-back.
Ten Hag has favoured Dalot this season, and he has started all but three Premier League games this season while averaging the most tackles per game in the United team, 2.3.
CB – Jean-Claire Todibo
Jean-Claire Todibo is the first new name to feature in the United starting XI, with the centre-back replacing fellow French star Raphael Varane in the team.
According to reports in France earlier this month, the Red Devils are favourites to land the Nice defender, however, due to the hefty fee of around £52m, a move is likely to occur in the summer instead.
The 24-year-old has been a rock at the heart of the Nice backline, helping his side pick up eight clean sheets this season, which is why scout Jacek Kulig described him as a “French wall.” Todibo would elevate United in possession and when playing out from the back, as he ranks in the top 8% for passes completed in Ligue 1.
CB – Lisandro Martinez
Lisandro Martinez returned from injury against Spurs last time out, which caused an almighty cheer from the Stretford End.
The Argentine is the first choice left centre-back and has been since his arrival in the summer of 2022. The World Cup winner will not be displaced in the defence.
LB – Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw is another player who is nursing an injury currently, but he should be back fit for Wolves away on the 1st of February.
When in the side, he offers a staggering amount of progression from deep, and last season he ranked in the top 8% among positionally similar players in the Premier League for passes into the final third, as per FBref. The 28-year-old walks into the United team when he is available.
DM – Kobbie Mainoo
Kobbie Mainoo won Ten Hag over during pre-season, and due to injuries to Casemiro, and Sofyan Amrabat failing to impress, the 18-year-old has cemented himself as a guaranteed starter in the midfield.
Despite being inexperienced, the academy prospect shows maturity in and out of possession, and given his lack of competitors, the boss should continue to show faith in the star boy.
DM – Youssouf Fofana
The second potential new signing for Man United is Youssouf Fofana of Monaco. Towards the end of December, reports suggested that Ten Hag’s team were monitoring the French midfielder and could make a move before the end of January.
Fofana – previously compared to none other than Paul Pogba on Football FanCast – is a midfielder who can operate in multiple roles within the centre of the pitch, but he is at his best in a double pivot where he can act as a box-to-box player, much like Pogba.
His shots total of 1.8 per game and his key passes of 1.3 per match highlight the 25-year-old’s ability to affect the game in the final third, while his athleticism and power let him cover ground quickly.
Christian Eriksen or Scott Mctominay have been used alongside Mainoo as of late, but Fofana would walk into the team ahead of the underperforming duo.
RW – Alejandro Garnacho
With Antony failing to score or assist this season, Ten Hag has been forced to move Alejandro Garnacho over to an unfamiliar right-hand side role. However, since operating on the right, he has thrived and shown the United faithful what they have been missing.
The 19-year-old has the joint-second-most goal contributions with five, averages 2.3 shots per game, and 1.4 successful dribbles, for the Red Devils this season. The Argentine is most definitely nailed down in the right-wing role for the time being, but Amad Diallo could provide competition soon.
AM – Bruno Fernandes
Portuguese Magnifico and United captain Bruno Fernandes is arguably the only irremovable player in the starting XI. The 28-year-old started every single Premier League game he was available for last season, and he created the most big chances in the league, 32.
The number eight hasn’t quite been at his best this season, but he still leads the way for shots, key passes, and assists.
LW – Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford is having a troubled campaign so far, but his performances have improved recently, and he has contributed to a goal in each of his last four.
The number ten netted 17 goals in the Premier League last season, and when he is confident, there are not many better forwards in the Premier League, never mind United. With Garnacho swapping flanks, Rashford will make the left wing his home again.
ST – Brian Brobbey
Brian Brobbey is the final player to enter the starting XI. According to football journalist Florian Plettenberg, Erik ten Hag is desperate to reunite with the 21-year-old who has scored 11 goals and registered four assists in 17 league games.
This indicates that although the boss has shown Rasmus Hojlund plenty of encouragement, he is looking for a different type of striker who is more well-rounded.
The Dane scored and assisted in United’s most recent game against Spurs, but his lack of link-up play does hinder the side at times, as he only registers 11.18 passes completed per gam and 2.25 shot-creating actions, whereas Brobbey boasts 14.53 and 3.79, respectively, in the Eredivisie.