Manchester United want six big signings over the next two transfer windows to halt an unrelenting slide away from their rivals.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has presided over the club’s worst start to a season in 30 years. United sit 12th in the Premier League table, just two points above the relegation zone.
There is an acceptance at United that the squad requires a major overhaul, with the club targeting two strikers, two central midfielders, a central defender and a left back.
United have spent almost £1billion since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 and are committed to financing another raft of signings in a stark admission that their recruitment strategy has been inadequate.
The £80million summer capture of Harry Maguire showed what United are prepared to pay to try to reverse their fortunes. While there is an acceptance that January is a troublesome month to do business, United are aware of the
need to strengthen now. Goals have been in short supply — United have scored only seven times in their last 10 games — and there is a desire to add two strikers to ease the burden on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
One, they hope, will arrive in January, with Mario Mandzukic of Juventus and Lyon’s Moussa Dembele of interest.
Solskjaer has already started phasing out the old guard, with Chris Smalling on loan at Roma, and Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan. More departures will follow in the coming windows.
Solskjaer will come under increasing pressure if United suffer defeat at home against Liverpool on Sunday but he is braced to be without goalkeeper David de Gea and midfielder Paul Pogba.
De Gea (below) has compounded United’s injury problems by limping out of Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Sweden on Tuesday with a groin strain. He will be assessed at Carrington today, but Solskjaer yesterday admitted that he is unlikely to play.
‘David needs a scan,’ said the United boss. ‘I think he’ll be out. It certainly looked that way judging on last night.’
Sergio Romero will step in to play his first league game for 17 months as a patched-up United face a Liverpool team looking to equal Manchester City’s record of 18 straight Premier League wins.
United will definitely be without Pogba, who is recovering from ankle and foot injuries. He has played just twice since August. The Frenchman returned from a warm weather rehab break in Dubai with his right foot still in a protective cast and he is expected to be out until the end of the month.
Asked about Pogba’s availability for Liverpool, Solskjaer said: ‘No chance. Paul had an injury, came back, worked really hard, played a couple of games and played through the pain barrier. He had a scan after the Arsenal game and needed a few weeks’ rest in a boot. He won’t make this game.’
United had hoped a number of their injured stars would be back in time to face bitter rivals Liverpool, but Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot are all struggling.
Martial is fit after a thigh injury but has not trained with three days to go until the game. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in a similar situation after missing three games with tonsillitis.
Meanwhile, Sanchez has been ruled out for three months after dislocating his left ankle playing for Chile.