Better late than never. Over £200m spent, three-quarters of which came in the last week of the window, and Manchester United’s summer trading is done. Erik ten Hag has his squad for the first part of the season.
While chaotic and at times undignified, United’s hierarchy have stumbled to the end of the window and, by hook or by crook, provided Ten Hag with a first XI capable of contending for the top four.
The failure to land the number one target, Frenkie de Jong, will grab the headlines and the constant and drawn out sagas will not have done much to build Ed Woodward’s broken trust among fans and the board. However, as demonstrated before, deals can be made, and big ones.
The summer began with a massive exodus, stars like Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic or Edinson Cavani left the club and the bulky wage bill and high average age went with them. This left the United board with a huge job to do; quality and quantity required.
Tyrell Malacia was the first through the gate, stolen from under Lyon’s nose. The young Dutch left back signed by Feyenoord was the first indicator of Ten Hag’s instruction in the market, attacking the league he knows best.
Malacia was followed by Lisandro Martínez, Ajax player from the previous season under Ten Hag. A rough and tumble central defender with composure on the ball and an eye for the pass convinced United to part with the bulk of the £50m.
Christian Eriksen was finally introduced, a free transfer from Brentford that seemed to take forever to cross the line. A fairytale signing for the Dane, whose recovery from the horrific scenes at the European Championships has been nothing short of miraculous.
Then came the chaos; With the de Jong deal dead in the water, a number of names were linked with the club. Adrien Rabiot appeared to be on his way to Old Trafford, but wage demands put an end to a questionable deal.
A week and several inches later, five-time Champions League winner Casemiro was announced as De Jong’s alternative. The cement for the bricks, tough, stylish and experienced, Casemiro should be the answer to the defensive midfield question that United have kept open since Michael Carrick’s retirement.
Then came the wild card, £85m Anthony was announced with time running out: the man from Ten Hag. The Brazilian will be asked to add the stardust to a free-flowing front of three, tasked with taking United into the top four.
Martin Dubravka was also added to provide backup to the goalkeeping ranks.
Although the way United behave in the market clearly leaves a lot to be desired, on paper it feels like the deal done is a good deal.
Time will tell how good, but early signs are positive, with Martinez taking the club’s first POTM award and Malacia and Eriksen impressing greatly.