Sir Jim Ratcliffe must be ruthless with Man United's biggest transfer dilemma (2024)

Pretty much any Manchester United fan could list the areas of priority for the club in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Everyone knows United must – and will – recruit in central defence, central midfield and indeed in forward areas. With Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial already heading for the exit door, and many set to follow them, a mass exodus is on the cards at Old Trafford.

And not before time. For years, United have needed to properly replenish their squad and this summer, the first summer window since Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS' sporting takeover of the club was completed, offers a golden opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

Jonny Evans and Christian Eriksen are likely to follow Varane and Martial out of the club. Permanent suitors will be sought for current loanees Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek, as well as Facundo Pellistri and Hannibal Mejbri. Casemiro, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could all be sold; even Antony and Marcus Rashford may leave.

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To replace them all, however, United may have to reach double figures in terms of incomings and that seems an unreachable figure.

It may get even harder for United if they have to sign a left-back as well.

The left side of the defence has been hugely problematic for United season with their top choices for those positions, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw, missing for the majority of games. When fit and firing, the pair set the tone and tempo of United's play. Erik ten Hag leaned heavily on them in 2022/23 in the surge to third place and two cup finals.

Yet recent reports suggest United are exploring the idea of signing a new left-back. Shaw's injury problems are not new to this season, while Tyrell Malacia hasn't kicked a ball in anger for almost a year due to his own injury.

It's a predicament that has left United – and specifically INEOS' key decision-makers, like Ratcliffe, Sir Dave Brailsford, Jason Wilcox and others – with a big call to make. Do they jettison one (or both) of Shaw and Malacia?

Sir Jim Ratcliffe must be ruthless with Man United's biggest transfer dilemma (1)

Keeping three left-backs at the club seems unsustainable. Presumably United will not endure such rotten luck with injuries next season, so at least one will make way.

Choosing to move on from Shaw may be a wrench for many connected with United. A former Player of the Year winner and pillar of the side under multiple managers in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, he's largely done well at United. He's almost spent a decade at the club.

He's earned England honours and performed at the highest level internationally, too, scoring in a major final for the Three Lions. The first since Geoff Hurst to do it, which is a feat in itself.

But Shaw will turn 29 this summer and even though his contract still has three years to run, his better days may be behind him, a possible result of all those injuries.

You suspect both Shaw and Malacia will get another chance for United in pre-season. The latter needs time to recover properly from a gruelling year of injury setbacks, while Shaw's position is far more stable than many of his aforementioned teammates. Given how ruthless Ratcliffe and his INEOS team have been with appointments off the pitch at United, however, they could make another big decision here.

Cut-throat footballing decisions are required to return United to former glories and the new ownership have shown already that they're willing to make the big calls.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe must be ruthless with Man United's biggest transfer dilemma (2)

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe must be ruthless with Man United's biggest transfer dilemma (2024)
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