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Five players who could join Manchester United this summer

It’s a summer of change for Manchester United with the club having restructured the hierarchy in a bid to return to former glories.

With new minority-owners Ineos in charge of sporting operations and respected football figures now on the board, hope is high that the Red Devils can have a successful summer of shopping.

We’ve looked at five players who could join Manchester United this summer.

Joshua Zirkzee (Bologna)

Manchester United’s lack of options at centre-forward has placed a number nine high on the club’s list of priorities this summer. After links to a multitude of options, Joshua Zirkzee appears the name the Red Devils’ recruiters have settled upon.

The Dutchman impressed as Bologna secured Champions League qualification last season, with Zirkzee an integral part of a campaign that saw the Italians finish above traditional powerhouses in Roma, Lazio and Napoli.

The 23-year-old scored 11 league goals and led all Serie A forwards for successful take-ons, earning him the division’s Young Player of the Year award. Full of potential, he was a late call-up to the Netherlands squad for Euro 2024 and made his senior debut in the quarter-final win over Turkey.

United, who are willing to activate the player’s £34m release clause, believe Zirkzee can complement Rasmus Hojlund and ease some of the pressure on a young forward who also signed from Serie A last summer. Hojlund scored 16 goals in all competitions in 2023-24 but remains raw.

Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich)

Erik ten Hag has reunited with former Ajax players on multiple occasions at Manchester United – with mixed success. However, Matthijs de Ligt looks like a sensible signing for a team in search of centre-back strength.

The Dutch defender was regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in Europe at Ajax, where he was appointed captain as a teenager and became the first defender to win the Golden Boy in 2018.

De Ligt has won league titles in Italy and Germany after big-money moves to Juventus and Bayern Munich but needs a new challenge after falling out of favour last season.

He made just 16 league starts for Bayern in 2023-24 but ranked in the elite bracket of defenders in the Bundesliga for pass completion (98th percentile) and progress passes (93rd percentile) per game. At 24, with a wealth of experience and aerial presence, he could be a long-term solution at Old Trafford. A reported asking price of €50m (£42.6m) appears fair value.

Manuel Ugarte (PSG)

Paris Saint-Germain are allegedly prepared to allow Manuel Ugarte to leave this summer, only a season after signing the midfielder in a €60m deal from Sporting Lisbon. The 23-year-old failed to nail down an automatic role in the PSG side despite his prolific ball-winning.

Ugarte led Ligue 1 for tackles per game (4.56) and ranked in the top five per cent of midfielders in France for pass completion (91.2%) and interceptions per 90 minutes.

His return followed a similar season with Sporting in 2022-23 as Ugarte topped the Primeira Liga for tackles won, dribblers tackled and pass completion. With Casemiro’s performances having taken a nosedive last season, Ugarte could inject bite back into the Manchester United midfield. His performances during Uruguay’s impressive Copa America campaign have only enhanced his reputation.

Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)

Manchester United saw an opening bid for Jarrad Branthwaite knocked back earlier in the transfer window, after Everton turned down a £35m proposal. The offer appeared ambitious given Branthwaite’s performances at Everton last season, with the Red Devils having hoped to capitalise on PSR concerns at Goodison Park.

Branthwaite remains a player of interest, however, even given the shift towards Matthijs de Ligt as the more attainable target. The former was named Everton’s Player of the Season for 2023-24, having been an integral part of their Premier League survival despite points deductions. No u-23 player tackled a higher percentage of dribblers faced while only Luton’s Tenden Mengi made more interceptions among players in the same age bracket.

At 21, with recovery speed and comfort off both feet, Branthwaite is a player of huge potential. A renewed approach should not be ruled out.

Milos Kerkez (Bournemouth)

Manchester United struggled at left-back last season with Luke Shaw plagued with fitness problems and Tyrell Malacia ruled out for the entire campaign. A young addition at left-back who can challenge – and eventually succeed – Shaw is on the club’s radar and Milos Kerkez is a name that has been circled.

A £15m arrival from AZ Alkmaar last summer, Kerkez had a solid if unspectacular debut campaign at Bournemouth. However, the Hungarian has the attributes to develop into a fine full-back with all-action energy down the flank.

He was exceptional in opposition against Manchester United in April, with a game-leading eight ball recoveries, three duels won and four open-play crosses.

Read – Five players who could join Arsenal this summer

See more – Five players who could join Chelsea this summer

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