Are Manchester United title favourites with Hojlund signing?

(Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images) /

Manchester United has paid a record fee to secure the services of generational talent, Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta

With Manchester United securing the Danish international for a record package of €85 million, it seems Erik ten Hag has masterfully orchestrated a squad upgrade that is bound to set Old Trafford ablaze with anticipation. The striker was the missing piece in Old Trafford’s jigsaw puzzle after the former Ajax manager signed Andre Onana and Mason Mount from Inter and Chelsea, respectively, in the ongoing transfer window.

"Manchester United have reached an agreement with Atalanta for the signing of forward Rasmus Hojlund in a deal worth €75million plus €10million in performance-related add-ons.(Via: The Athletic)"

In a remarkable departure from their recent transfer patterns, Manchester United has bucked the trend by securing a major player’s signature in the month of June, breaking away from their habit of completing deals in July. The club also secured the services of Andre Onana before the pre-season tour started. In the pre-season game against Real Madrid, Red Devils missed the poaching and scoring abilities of a striker, resulting in a 2-0 loss. Recognizing the urgency to address this crucial gap, the club swiftly made a decisive move in securing the services of a talented 20-year-old striker from Italy.

These record-breaking signings lead us to one question: Are Manchester United title favorites in 2023/24?

When Erik ten Hag started his tenure at Old Trafford, the ardent fans of the club cried for a ball-playing and sweeper-keeper to fit the philosophy of the manager. In recent years, the likes of Ederson and Alisson were instrumental in Manchester City and Liverpool’s Premier League title and Champions League title ambitions. Even in the 2022/23 season, when Arsenal mounted a title challenge, Aaron Ramsdale was key in the attacking build-up.

With the arrival of Andre Onana, the missing piece in the goalkeeping puzzle now seems to be in place, lending a reassuring solidity to the defense. The defense looks solid with Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane. Notably, Aaron Wan Bissaka has been making impressive strides in honing his positional awareness and passing acumen, rendering the team more adept at holding a high line while seamlessly integrating a possession-based strategy. Also, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia and Diogo Dalot are all set to challenge for the starting XI spot considering their recent performances.

Casemiro’s arrival in the 2022/23 season bolstered the midfield alongside Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes. However, Eriksen’s fatigue led Manchester United to pursue Mason Mount. With Mount’s addition, the team could potentially shift to a 4-3-3 formation or have Fernandes drop to No.8, allowing Mount to operate as a No.10. This versatile midfield setup promises excellent ball retention and the ability to unlock deep-sitting defenses under Erik ten Hag’s tactical prowess.

There is no doubt about the electrifying pace of Manchester United’s attack. The proud academy graduates, Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho will continue to set the left flank on fire. The fans’ hearts beat as one, fervently expecting Jadon Sancho and Anthony to unleash their magic and deliver moments of sheer brilliance. This attacking quartet proved instrumental in propelling Manchester United to a resounding 7 out of 10 campaign in the thrilling 2022/23 season. Rasmus Hojlund will be eagerly awaiting to poach the opportunities to be served by the creative midfielders and wingers to light up Old Trafford.

What could hinder Manchester United’s title ambitions?

Manchester United’s bench strength remains a perennial concern, and the departure of David de Gea has left a void in the role of the second goalkeeper. While both Tom Heaton and Matej Kovar have demonstrated their abilities, the club remains uncertain about securing adequate cover for Onana.

The midfield presents a critical point of concern despite having addressed creative aspects. A defensive midfield addition is still imperative. While Scott McTominay is expected to stay, Fred’s departure looms on the horizon. However, should no significant transfer worth €35 million materialize, the club risks facing FFP implications while potentially missing out on the acquisition of Sofiyan Amrabat from Fiorentina.

Dark clouds loom over the potential departures of Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Dean Henderson, and Anthony Martial. These players have provided vital cover during injuries to the current squad or offered valuable options to the manager during challenging times. Their availability, apart from Maguire, could potentially jeopardize Erik ten Hag’s tactical plans. Additionally, indecision surrounds the futures of promising talents Amad and Pellestri, who showcased their prowess during the previous season and the ongoing pre-season.

As the Old Trafford faithful eagerly peer into the horizon of the forthcoming season, their hearts brim with unbridled optimism and electrifying anticipation. A thrilling surge of belief courses through their veins, for they hold an unwavering conviction that Erik ten Hag’s masterful tactical artistry will become the mystical wand that shall ignite a dazzling renaissance of footballing grandeur for the revered Red Devils.

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