Manchester United will sign two more players before the transfer window ends and making one of them Jadon Sancho would lead to understandable excitement among the club’s fanbase about the prospect of challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title. That’s the verdict of Alan Shearer.
The new English top-flight season gets underway today with champions Liverpool among the teams in action, though United and City do not play until next weekend after their involvement in European competitions just last month.
Having won the last three titles, it is widely expected that Liverpool and City will remain the division’s dominant sides and that they will be the two to battle it out for the main prize.
Shearer certainly thinks that is the case, with United – who finished third last term to qualify for the Champions League this year – still a bit short of their two rivals.
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Yet the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer admits he could see why expectations would rise among United fans were their club to seal the £108million arrival of Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
United have been in lengthy negotiations with the German club about the England international, 20, but have yet to broker a deal. Personal terms have however been agreed with the winger, who is said to be keen on moving to Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has only added Donny van de Beek to his first-team squad this summer, spending £40million to bring the Dutch midfielder to Manchester.
But Shearer thinks the United manager will add another two new players to his team before the window closes on October 5.
Predicting the campaign ahead for BBC Sport, Shearer said: “United, too, will be looking up the table after their great run to finish third, but bettering that finish is going to be extremely hard for them as things stand.
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“I’m not sure they have the depth to sustain a challenge, although I’m expecting one or two more signings to go with Donny van de Beek.
“And if Jadon Sancho is one of them I could understand if their fans started getting excited.
“United are going to be good to watch even if they don’t get Sancho, but I am really interested to see how their goalkeeping situation plays out because we could see a real battle to be number one between David de Gea and Dean Henderson.”
Shearer was also full of praise for the impact that Bruno Fernandes has had on the United side since his January arrival.
The 26-year-old managed 12 goals and eight assists in just 22 appearances for United last term after joining from Sporting Lisbon in a deal that could rise to £67m.
Shearer added: “It is very hard to make predictions now about what will happen as the transfer window does not close until 5 October.
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“If anyone needs any evidence of what a huge difference a signing or two can make, they need look no further than Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United.
“When he joined United at the end of January, they had just been booed off at Old Trafford after losing to Burnley – their fourth defeat in seven matches.
“If I’d said then that United would go on a 17-game unbeaten run, I would have been laughed out of the studio.
“But Fernandes’ arrival transformed the whole team, not just by his own skill and ability to find a killer pass, but because his presence seemed to add an extra 10 per cent to every other United player too.
“That kind of impact is what every team wants from the signings they have already made this summer – or the ones they hope are still to come.”
Solskjaer said to BBC Radio 5 Live of the potential of further signings earlier this week: “We are always looking to see if there is any way possible that we can improve this squad and bring players in that will have the right level, quality, personality and fits all the criteria.
“This summer and year has been a strange one and it is very important everyone understands this has an affect on football. Not everyone can spend millions and millions.
“I never set myself a target, like scoring 20 goals as a player. You just have to go day by day, making sure you develop and improve.
“We have a vision of where we want to get to but know so many things can come in the way. I believe in seeing how the team and club develops.
“We are a developing team, a year or so into our rebuild. We had to make some decisions last summer and throughout the season we have seen how this team is getting better and getting used to each other.
“It is never easy to have too many new players in the team, it takes time for players to gel into a unit.
“We have seen some clubs go for the quick fix and some have trust in the process. We have to improve and get results but adding players with different qualities than we have.”
United will raise the curtain on their new Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford next Saturday (5.30pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports).
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