Manchester United are in a dire state this season. With José Mourinho finally admitting that his hope of reaching the top four by Christmas was unrealistic, the Red Devils are struggling emphatically to record any sort of consistency week in, week out.
Last weekend, against Southampton, who have been nothing short of shambolic this year, Mourinho’s team conceded two goals in quick succession and had it all to do in order to go back to Manchester with any points. Through Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera they found two goals, but it was a performance that embodied them under Mourinho’s reign.
There are so many problems around United currently, but one that has maintained throughout the three managers following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement has been the right wing. Juan Mata, who was signed as an attacking midfielder in January of 2014, has largely been put out on the right, given the lack of other viable choices in the team.
For one reason or another – that remains befuddling to many fans – the board have just not bothered to strengthen one of their flanks. Transfer window after transfer window the opportunity comes and goes for United to finally bring someone in, but they prioritise other positions and neglect their right wing.
Manchester United have long been admirers of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, but ever since the Welshman opted for Spain’s sunny capital over the North West of England, that ship has sailed and would never come back around. And yet, Man United continue to try and prize Bale away, wasting their time on him instead of attempting to find a suitable alternative – which there are plenty of.
The Red Devils have got into the habit of going for world-class stars who want to receive an enormous paycheque, over players who would sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. Alexis Sánchez, for example, has been immensely disappointing since arriving at the turn of the year and is holding the club accountable for wages of £500,000 per-week, including bonuses.
United need to start targeting players who are not yet in their prime and are willing to work for the team, as well as themselves. Instead of opting for 29 year olds who are looking for one last mega contract, there are plenty of younger players who have come through a generation which preaches team cohesion and unity.
One player that springs to mind is the fantastic Christian Pulisic. The American has taken life in Germany by storm ever since arriving at the age of 16 into Borussia Dortmund’s academy and has risen straight through into the first-team. His natural progression is what he had hoped for when opting for a German football club, rather than the allures of Spain’s big two.
At just 17-years-old, Pulisic made his debut for BVB off the bench and in just one month later, became the youngest American to play in the Europa League. In 2016 it was rise of the Pulisic as he went from strength to strength and immersed himself into the first-team at Dortmund.
What was remarkable was how natural Pulisic looked on the big stage of the Bundesliga, especially for someone so young. The U.S. starlet had become the fourth-youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history and the youngest ever with two goals to his name. Pulisic was beginning to make waves across Europe.
By the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Pulisic racked up 42 appearances and had contributed to 12 goals. Even to this day, the American’s underlying numbers have not been astounding, but it’s his selflessness in the Black and Yellows’ attacking play that makes him such a catch, especially for Manchester United.
Although he has lost his place in part to Jadon Sancho this season, Pulisic remains a target for most elite clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. He has seven goal contributions (three goals and four assists) in 14 appearances this season in all competitions, mainly coming from the right wing.
It has been reported by German media that Chelsea and Liverpool lead the way for the American, having discussed a potential deal taking place in January with Dortmund’s official representatives. With Pulisic’s contract expiring in 2020, the Black and Yellows need to make a decision on when to sell him if they feel that the 20 year old will not renew within the next six months.
Manchester United are in desperate need of some raw pace, ingenuity and intuition on their right wing, as well as someone with hunger and desire to take their game – and United’s – to the next level. After losing out on game time to Sancho this season, Pulisic’s character has been tested. He looks hungry and motivated to develop further, but needs the opportunity to do so.
Dortmund are likely to hold out for a fee near £75 million given the market rate for hot prospects, as well as what he can bring to the table now. United’s cash flow is there to see for everyone, and although the American is expensive, he should be a player that tests himself and fulfil his potential.
Manchester United will face stiff competition from many clubs around Europe, but if they are to go in for Pulisic, they must sign him for the right reasons of bolstering their attack and not just because he is an immense marketing tool commercially, as well as preventing him going to any rival.
The American is one of the best talents of his generation and has the ability to transform United’s right wing.