June 28, 2020
Former Manchester United right-back and captain Gary Neville has suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer follows the steps that Liverpool took to deliver their first Premier League title, and league title in 30 years. Liverpool signed central defender Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, which seems to have been used as a catalyst, driving them to league title glory.
Van Dijk cost Liverpool £75 million two and a half years ago and helped drive them to challenge Manchester City last season, ending by winning their sixth UEFA Champions League trophy, after being beaten in the final the year before. It might not be good reading, but I feel that Neville does have a point here.
United signed Harry Maguire for £80 million last summer and Neville believed that it could have been United’s Van Dijk moment, however, it has not worked that way thus far, and probably won’t be anything near as similar as United are not Liverpool and Liverpool are not United. It is not something that is guaranteed to work with different clubs.
The rise of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could be the start of success for United with both players seemingly hungry to achieve things at the club, which is great to see after seven seasons of United failing to challenge for a single league title, despite finish second once, 19 points behind Manchester City. Neville feels that an elite signing could help United in the right direction. Speaking to Premier League Daily, he said:
“I think one more signing. You think about Liverpool signing [Virgil] Van Dijk and Alisson in goal.
“One or two more signings or [Paul] Pogba and one more signing playing to their absolute best. I think United can get closer.”
When he was pressed as to which position this elite signing would play in, Neville confirmed that it would be a central defender. It is an area that United need to work on but the addition of Maguire last summer, not to mention Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has seemingly solve the right-back problem, money would need to be spent elsewhere in the squad. Neville, however, said:
“Centre-back, you look at the impact Van Dijk had. Maguire has had a really strong impact but another real strong centre-back.
“They’ve still got to be defensively sound. One more signing and United can challenge.”
United could go a long way to listen to former players but also listen to the manager, his coaches and even the players, who will have their own ideas. However, United need to secure the right-wing position, in my opinion, possible add another midfielder, if one of two leave this summer and a central defender would be needed if the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Marcos Rojo end up leaving the club this summer. It could work.