Since Alex Ferguson retired from management in 2013, Manchester United have been a shadow of the team that they once were. The Red Devils may have won a few Cups since the retirement of the Scot but they have struggled to launch a credible challenge for the Premier League.
However, things could change under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. Solksjaer was appointed as manager of the club on an interim basis following the sacking of Jose Mourinho last December. The club initially planned to hire the club legend to manage the club on a temporary basis until the end of the season and find a permanent successor during the summer. However, the baby-faced former striker has exceeded expectations and was subsequently last week rewarded with a three-year contract to manage the club.
Under Solksjaer, United have returned to free-flowing attacking football and we have seen signs of a revival of the United of old. However, the club will need to make some additions to the squad next summer if they want to seriously challenge for major silverware and the Premier League title. Not many people would argue that one of the big weak points of the United side is their defence. Since the departure of Ferguson, the club has struggled to find solid defenders.
The Red Devils will have to bring in a new right-back during the summer or perhaps two. The current options in that department are youngster Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia. The 33-year-old Valencia who was actually brought to Old Trafford as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009 is set to depart the club at the end of the season. He is now surplus to requirements at the club is this is quite evident as he has only made five Premier League appearances this season. Darmian similarly is also surplus to requirements at the club and will likely leave at the end of the season. The 29-year-old has also made just five appearances in the top-flight this season.
Of the three, Dalot will stay. The 20-year-old has shown tremendous potential and could develop into one of the best in his position in the near-future. However, he is too young to be trusted with the first-choice right back duties. The club must bring in someone who can provide quality competition and possible cover for Dalot.
They should consider bringing back Rafael Da Silva who is currently on the books of Lyon. The Brazilian previously played for the Red Devils from 2008-2015 and helped the club to win three Premier League titles, one League Cup and one Club World Cup. Rafael eventually left United to join Lyon in 2015 after he was deemed surplus to requirements by Louis Van Gaal.
Still only 28-years-old, Rafael is already a tried and tested player in the Premier League. He is now at the peak of his career and a more mature player than he was during his younger days under Ferguson. If brought back to United this summer, he could potentially add more value to the first-team than he did during his younger days.
Some might argue that Rafael was never really an important player under Ferguson. However, it is also important to realize that he was a youngster vying for a place in a defence which boasted the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and John O’Shea among others.
Rafael’s current contract with Lyon is due to expire at the end of the season. Therefore, Solksjaer may be able to get him on a free transfer.