The summer transfer window has only just closed but Manchester United already have a list of things which they need to start working through ahead of the next one.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was backed with four new senior arrivals in the off-season, though not quite as much progress was made in regards to trimming the fat on an already bloated squad.
The main focus will be on the season that has only just started, but for United’s transfer committee the work never stops on planning for the long-term future of the club.
With that in mind MEN Sport take a look at the issues which will need resolving in 2022:
This one just won’t go away. Paul Pogba is now into his final year at United and there is yet to be a firm decision made on where his long-term future lies.
The French international could negotiate terms with another European club from January, though his dream move to Real Madrid has been complicated by their decision to sign Eduardo Camavinga.
Pogba has still not shown any concrete interest in signing a new United contract, but the club now have more time to convince him he would not be wasting the last competitive years of his career by staying. The signings of Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo certainly help their case.
Goalkeeper has to go
Heading into the summer Solskjaer admitted the dynamic of Dean Henderson and David de Gea both remaining at the club was not sustainable for another season — but they are both still here.
Henderson had been convinced he would start the new season as the club’s No.1 but was robbed of the chance after injury and a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. In his place De Gea has rolled back the years with a fine run of form.
The Spaniard is the better option right now, but Henderson has age on his side. It’s a tough decision, but one which has to be made.
The player who looked most certain to leave during the summer was Jesse Lingard, but he is still at the club and in line for a back-up role after a good spell on loan at West Ham and a fine pre-season.
Solskjaer insists the English midfielder would have been playing at the start of the season if not for his own Covid setback, but the arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo will now surely limit his opportunities.
Lingard is also out of contract next summer so United must either sanction his sale in January or offer him a new deal to protect his value. Neither solution would surprise you.
Van de Beek
Another player who needs clarity on his future is Donny van de Beek after his agent sensationally claimed the club had rejected offers for him in the summer.
Solskjaer has reiterated his faith in the Dutch international throughout the off-season, but has then failed to give him an appearance in any of the opening three matches against relatively weak opposition.
Van de Beek should get a chance in cup competitions later this month, but it is hardly the role he’d hoped for when he left Ajax a year ago.
One transfer which seems certain to take place in January is a loan exit for Amad after his proposed move to Feyenoord fell through following an injury setback.
The Ivorian teenager is highly-rated at United but it is clear his immediate future lies elsewhere given the other options already in attack.
Amad is still relatively new to senior football at any club so the next logical step will be for him to gain valuable playing time in another league in the new year.
For many supporters the one negative from the summer transfer window is that they ended it without any new arrivals in midfield, an area which has already been identified as a priority next year.
United held talks over possible moves for Saul Niguez and Camavinga, though neither would have solved the long-term issue of directly replacing Nemanja Matic in the defensive role.
The sensational swoop for Ronaldo ruled out any further additions late in the window and now United just need to hope the extra firepower is enough to mask the glaring concern which still remains.
Another area United look to improve in the summer was at right-back with club coaches keen to add extra attacking threat from that area of the pitch.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka proved his defensive worth at Wolves with a vital goal line clearance on the weekend but still the desire is to have a more threatening offensive option.
Kieran Trippier proved too costly so Diogo Dalot will get a final chance to showcase his talents this season. Both he and Swansea loanee Ethan Laird could be simple solutions to the problem; if not another transfer might be considered.
Trimming the fat
Daniel James was the only permanent sale on deadline day meaning United still have a boated side heading into the season, it isn’t a sustainable model.
Solskjaer is right to want squad depth in order to compete across all competitions but there are now players with very little to offer on a regular basis.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are battling it out to even be fourth-choice at centre-back, De Gea and Henderson can’t both be kept, while there is also overstocked midfield options with Matic, Fred, Van de Beek, Lingard and Scott McTominay effectively battling it out for the final starting role.