Manchester United's Premier League season hangs in the balance at the halfway point, sitting seventh in the table but with a game in hand on the leaders.
Clubs falling just short of their high expectations are often the busiest in the January window, looking to secure a few difference-makers without upsetting the balance of the squad. Manchester United falls firmly in that category, and manager Ralf Rangnick now has a number of big decisions to make.
Rangnick will need to decide not just whom to bring in, but who can leave, with the club looking to secure the futures of a few players who have seen less time this season. Room will be needed to bring in any reinforcements, with the squad already somewhat bloated.
In addition, a number of players don't seem to fit Rangnick's established 4-2-2-2 tactical setup and that much was evident in the club's year-opening home loss to Wolves. It remains to be seen how much long-term influence the German interim boss has with the board, potentially asking for players to depart or arrive that fit his style.
Below is the updated list of Manchester United player transactions during the January 2022 transfer window, the updated squad list and the rumors and reports involving the Red Devils:
Man United Transfers: January 2022 winter window
|Jan. 7||Axel Tuanzebe||CB||24||Napoli||Loan (Fee: $680,000)|
Man United squad 2021-22
Below is the updated Manchester United first-team roster. Any new additions during the January 2022 window will be noted in bold:
Goalkeepers (4): David de Gea, Lee Grant, Tom Heaton, Dean Henderson.
Defenders (9): Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Midfielders (8): Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek.
Forwards (9): Edinson Cavani, Tahith Chong, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho
The current Man United projected first-choice starting lineup, when completely healthy, currently looks like:
Man United projected starting XI (4-4-2, left to right): De Gea (GK) — Shaw, Maguire, Varane, Dalot — Fred, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford — Ronaldo, Cavani.
Man United back-ups: Henderson (GK), Jones (CB), Lindelof (CB), Bailly (CB), Telles (LB), Wan-Bissaka (RB), McTominay (CM), Matic (CM), Van de Beek (CM), Mata (CM), Lingard (CAM), Greenwood (CF), Martial (CF), Sancho (LW), Elanga (LW), Diallo (RW), Chong (RW).
(GK = goalkeeper; CB = center back; LB = left back; RB = right back; CM = central midfielder; CAM = attacking midfielder; CF = center forward; LW = left wing; RW = right wing)
Man United transfer rumors & news
Here's the latest on the Man United transfer front based on reports across Europe:
Pogba's status: Latest updates
Paul Pogba's standing at Manchester United has been the source of constant speculation. The French midfielder has never seemed to truly settle in Manchester since joining in the summer of 2016, but speculation is brewing now more than ever as his contract expires this summer and to this point no movement on a new deal has developed.
At 28 years old, Pogba is still in his prime, and although a hamstring injury has derailed his season so far with just nine Premier League appearances, he would be a hot commodity on the market. Manchester United has a decision to make between keeping him through the end of the season for a Champions League push, or pulling the trigger in January to get something over nothing.
A report from ESPN states that Pogba at this point is likely to stay at Man United through the expiration of his contract, and it seems the most likely scenario is a return to Juventus in the summer.
Is Man United shopping for a new forward?
Striker doesn't appear to be a position of need for Manchester United, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, and Mason Greenwood all holding down the position well, but that doesn't stop the rumors from swirling.
According to Spanish tabloid Fichajes, the Red Devils could be a player for Leeds United attacker Raphinha, who is having a stellar season. With eight goals and an assist in 17 Premier League matches, the 25-year-old Brazilian has also drawn interest from Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, meaning Man United would have stiff competition.
Will Man United offload dead weight?
The Manchester United squad is currently bloated with a number of fringe players who are desperate for more playing time. It's possible that United is a seller in the January market as a result.
Anthony Martial has been the most public with his desire to move on, having just returned to training following a knee injury. Even before the injury he was a bit-part player, and United could look for a loan move in January. Indeed that is the focus of an ESPN report from late December, stating United turned down a loan approach from Spanish side Sevilla, after the Spanish club only offered to cover half his wages. Journalist Guillem Balague has backed up the report, and Sevilla has yet to return with an updated bid.
Another player pining to leave is Jesse Lingard, who has just 87 total minutes across eight Premier League appearances this season. The lack of time has seen Lingard drop from the England picture, and Rangnick has been mum on giving him more chances. The Telegraph reported in early January that Lingard is likely to finish the season at Manchester United and leave in the summer at the expiration of his contract, but talkSPORT has claimed that West Ham could test that resolve.
Donny van de Beek has been pushed by former Dutch star Raphael van der Vaart to leave Manchester United in a bid to earn more minutes, but to this point no solid rumors have surfaced suggesting he could leave. There are still three more seasons left on his contract which expires in the summer of 2025.
Defender Axel Tuanzebe has been recalled from his Aston Villa loan and instead sent out to Napoli on loan, making his debut on January 9. Tuanzebe never got established minutes at Villa Park due to the established central defensive partnership between Ezri Konza and Tyrone Mings, but he would be of use to the Italian side which will miss Kalidou Koulibaly for a month while on AFCON duty. United will also make some money on the deal, which is always a positive. Shockingly, Tuanzebe's agent accused Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool player, of favoring other Aston Villa defenders because Tuanzebe is a Man United player, calling out the Liverpool/Man United rivalry.
Other potential Man United reinforcements
The Red Devils appear to be more sellers than buyers in the January window, but there are a few players worth noting who have been linked to the club.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Man United is monitoring the situation with Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, but no official bids have been submitted. Zakaria is a wanted man this winter, and Man United will have plenty of competition if they decide to enter the fray.
In need of a new holding midfielder to partner with Scott McTominay, rumors have surfaced of late about interest in Ruben Neves, via Sky Sports and others, understandably so after the Portuguese international ran the show in Wolves 1-0 win over United in early January. That would be a fantastic purchase, but Neves is a critical piece of the Wolves squad and is under contract until the summer of 2024 so he is another that would seem more likely to be a summer target than immediately.
According to English tabloids, including the Sun, Manchester United is "preparing the groundwork" for a big-money bid for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. Defensive midfielder is a position of need at Manchester United, especially with Scott McTominay proving himself as a useful No. 8. It's possible the Red Devils see this as an immediate need and make a push before the summer. Rice's contract expires in the summer of 2024, so West Ham could be persuaded to take top dollar now.
Reports in Argentina suggest that Manchester United will meet in January with the agent for River Plate striker Julian Alvarez. A River Plate youth product, the 21-year-old has bagged a whopping 24 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions for the Argentine giants, and reportedly has a $23 million release clause United would have to trigger.
There is also talk that Ralf Rangnick could bring midfielder Amadou Haidara over from his former club RB Leipzig, having been the one to secure the 23-year-old's services at the Bundesliga club to begin with. The speculation comes from comments that RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff made in early December indicating Rangnick "loves" Haidara and that the club is hoping to secure a new contract for the midfielder to ward off Manchester United interest, with a $44 million release clause the club wishes to wipe clean.