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Man United must downsize in defense before targeting improvements

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The Erik ten Hag regime has hardly kicked off without a hitch at Old Trafford this summer as Manchester United continues to struggle with securing vital reinforcements under the Dutch tactician after a frustrating 2021-22 Premier League campaign.

United was always expected to go through a serious rebuilding program under Ten Hag, who guided Dutch giants AFC Ajax expertly during his four-and-a-half-year tenure in Amsterdam, but as the club’s biggest domestic rivals have all begun to strengthen their positions this summer, the Red Devils have yet to secure any new signings despite losing Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matić, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata, and Jesse Lingard.

One area that United has not been stripped of depth has been in defense, and as reported by Simon Peach (chief football writer at PA Media), there is a sentiment in the Red Devil’s camp that the club’s current defensive options may be able to kick on and improve under Ten Hag over the course of his first season at the helm.

At current, United boasts twelve defenders across the current back line and is certainly bloated by comparison to other sides in the Premier League, but there could be potential for players the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, and Eric Bailly to prove their capability to come on line under new management.

Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned players – among others – have truly lived up to the level required of a club of Man United’s stature both domestically and on a global scale, and there may likely still be a need for the club to bring in reinforcements that raise the level of quality in defense.

With six center-backs and four left-backs in the first team squad at current, adding further unnecessary depth to an already overflowing back line would constitute poor financial management commensurate with United’s already questionable spending in recent years, and surely, the club will have to make room if they are to make good on links that have persisted this summer.

United has already been regularly linked with Ajax’s Jurriën Timber, David Raum, Denzel Dumfries, and a cadre of others.

Ten Hag will also want to add quality in other areas of the pitch as well, and jettisoning a handful of defenders unfit for service under his command could certainly provide funds that could immediately go back into securing deals for potential defensive upgrades to help the club get back on track in the Premier League.


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