The ‘Fourth Signing’ Problem


Jose Mourinho has been insisting on buying four players which will immediately improve his Manchester United squad. Three of them arrived before the end of July and the boss was quite satisfied with the job the board had done.

“To get three out of four I thank the club for that, I would be happier if they give me four out of four but they did a great job”, Mouinho said.

Victor Lindelof will take his centre-back place, Nemanja Matic’s spot in the middle of the park looks all but set for him and Romelu Lukaku is expected to score goals in a swashbuckling manner he did last season for Everton. So who will be the fourth man?

Ivan Perisic

This is an old story. Manchester United have been chasing Croatian international even before the summer officially started, but the mixture of several factors resulted in him still being Internazionale player. First of all, Inter are in the process of rebuilding. Luciano Spaletti arrived as the new head coach, bringing in players in key areas such as Borja Valero and Milan Skriniar. Spaletti would definitely want one of his key players to stay at the club and chase one of the four Champions League spots for the next season.

Also, Inter’s new Chinese owners are able to invest money in the squad, so they do not necessarily need to sell their better players. That is why the two clubs are unable to find agreement regarding potential transfer fee. Reportedly, Inter rejected United’s £39m bid and Piero Ausilio, Inter’s sporting director, told Italian media that the club are negotiating new contract with Perisic. His current one ends in summer of 2020.

Wildcards – Gareth Bale/Emil Forsberg

The word ‘wildcards’ really says it all. It is hardly possible for Man United to bring in one of the two mentioned players, but we all know that late August can be a messy place in the transfer market.

Gareth Bale recently had many troubles with injuries and Real Madrid could get tired of him being sidelined more often than playing regularly. His place at the club could be well shaken in case of Madrid actually buying Kylian Mbappe this transfer window and then, it would not be impossible for European champions to want some money back in their club after heavy spending. Bale fits Premier League much better than La Liga and Mourinho might want another superstar used to winning in his dressing room.

Emil Forsberg is another story. RB Leipzig’s winger will be 26 in October and could be reaching his peak in the following couple of seasons. His displays for the German club in 2016-17 were astonishing. He is a pacey, aggressive winger used to putting pressure on opposition defenders, but his stats offer a better picture. Forsberg completed 2.72 dribbles per 90 minutes last season, which put him in top five per cent in Europe in that category. He has a great sense for assisting players, completing staggering 22 assists in 30 Bundesliga matches. Lukaku would definitely love to have a player like Forsberg besides him.

It is hard to expect RB Leipzig would want to lose a player like him and the whole Naby Keita-Liverpool saga turned out to be winning for the Bundesliga club. Yet, Manchester United would be right to consider the Swede.

Solutions Within The Squad

Man United are not in great need of buying a winger. They have good options in their squad, including Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard and, if needed, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could do a good job on the wing as well. Martial and Lingard would be particularly eager to prove their worth and show the manager that the fourth signing is unnecessary.

Mourinho improved his team in key areas with the three signings so far. Finding the fourth one will be tricky. Or the fourth man is already a Manchester United player?

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