Better late than never. Better to accomplish your goals amidst chaos and disorganization than to not accomplish them at all. Despite the horrifyingly tedious sagas of Frenkie de Jong and Cristiano Ronaldo, which got Manchester United off to a late start this summer transfer window, the club still filled their biggest needs.
United needed and found upgrades at back-up goalkeeper, defensive midfielder, center back, left back and wing. It was certainly not the route that one would want to take to get there, but hey, they got there. The Erik ten Hag rebuild is now fully underway.
United manager Erik ten Hag said yesterday, in his Leicester City preview press conference, his club is done with summer transfer window business.
And thus, it’s time to reflect on what they did/didn’t do and evaluate it.
“I think [there won’t be any more signings],” Ten Hag said yesterday. “It will be the end for this window, but when there is a great opportunity, we always have to be alert at this top club.”
Antony Ajax ($100 m)
Martin Dubravka Newcastle (loan)
Casemiro Real Madrid ($70 million, plus $11 million in add-ons)
Lisandro Martinez Ajax ($68.7 million)
Tyrell Malacia Feyenoord ($13.2 million, plus $2 million possible add-ons)
Christian Eriksen – Free
Did they overpay for Antony? Who cares! A young Brazilian who can bang in the goals, and thus move the club closer towards doing the two tough things that they really need to do (rip up Mason Greenwood’s contract when they can avoid legal liability in doing so, and jettison Cristiano Ronaldo, who is further ruining his legacy every day) ASAP. So in other words, Antony has inherent value that goes beyond just his own individual talent and potential.
Martinez was a sleeper acquisition who is paying off dividends already. Did you see the statistical comparisons, from the early season, against Virgil Van Dijk?
You saw how favorable they are, towards the former Ajax man, and that says it all. Casemiro fills the club’s biggest need, and does so in a big way, so that’s a home run signing.
Malacia could be better than expected, and looks like an upgrade over Luke Shaw. Meanwhile Eriksen is a Swiss Army Knife, who is a phenomenal pick-up for a free.
Amad Diallo Sunderland (loan)
James Garner Everton ($17M-23M….details are still sketchy on this)
Andreas Pereira Fulham ($11.9 million)
Dean Henderson Nottingham Forest (loan)
Paul Pogba (end of contract)
Nemanja Matic Roma (free transfer)
Juan Mata (end of contract)
Edinson Cavani (end of contract)
Jesse Lingard (end of contract)
Lee Grant (end of contract)
There was a lot of addition by subtraction, and that’s very critical, especially for a club like this. You can’t truly re-build, until you first tear down. A lot of the bad apples are gone, but there is still a ways to go yet.
It’s a bummer, given who he is and what he’s accomplished that no one (at least among the teams he’d actually go to) wanted Cristiano Ronaldo! But that says a lot about where his market value is right now, at this stage of his career. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is reportedly bad for the dressing room too, so he needs to be moved on.
Summation (needs addressed/neglected)
The De Jong saga was a more repetitive, banal, tedious and excruciatingly painful transfer narrative than Arturo Vidal in 2014 and David de Gea in 2015 combined. And that really says something. He was United’s top tier target, they spent all summer chasing him, and they still fell way short.
It also would have been nice if United could have found a way to free Christian Pulisic from his captivity. Still United got a central mid, center back and a forward, the three positions that needed upgrading the most.
United fans, you can get ready for the Dutch revolution under Ten Hag now. Expect more Ajax players and Netherlands internationals to come.
2022 Summer Transfer Window Report Cards
Man United Man City Chelsea Leicester Tottenham Arsenal West Ham Liverpool
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.Follow paulmbanks