Manchester United may look back at the summer transfer window as a missed opportunity after Erik ten Hag’s side appear to have taken a step back this season.
There was plenty to be encouraged about during Ten Hag’s first season at the helm. The club spent £167million on new recruits including Rasmus Hojlund, Mason Mount and Andre Onana in the summer but don’t appear to have improved.
Might they be faring better had they signed different players instead? We’ve taken a look back at the seven players that United were linked with in the summer and how they’ve all fared elsewhere in 2023-24 so far.
Few outside of Brazil had heard of the rising star when he was linked with United back in August – but Leonardo is increasingly making a name for himself by putting together an increasingly impressive highlights reel.
Santos’ No.9 looks like the real deal. Manchester United may face competition to sign him, though.
French outlet L’Equipe reported that United weighed up a move for the former Barcelona defender, who impressed at Nice last season, as a potential replacement for Harry Maguire.
That was before Maguire turned down West Ham and decided to stay and fight for his place at Old Trafford – and he’s actually ended up playing more of an increased role under Ten Hag this season.
United fans can be forgiven for looking longingly at Todibo, though, given his form in France. He’s helped keep a clean sheet in each of his last six appearances for the surprise Ligue 1 table toppers.
Perhaps Sir Jim Ratcliffe can help them revisit the deal.
Having already linked back up with the likes of Antony and Lisandro Martinez, it’s no secret that Ten Hag is happy to sign players he’s worked with before.
United were inevitably linked with a number of the Dutchman’s former students to plug their porous midfield following their slow start to the season before eventually sealing a deal for Sofyan Amrabat, who developed his skills under Ten Hag at FC Utrecht.
Ajax academy graduate Gravenberch was another linked with United. He did end up leaving Bayern Munich, but signed for their rivals Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp was patient with bedding him in but the 21-year-old appears to have nailed down his place in the Reds’ new-look midfield.
“He is a top bloke and I am really happy for him,” Klopp told TNT Sports after Gravenberch opened his Liverpool account against Union Saint-Gilloise.
“His time at Bayern was not the worst in the world, but now he can get rhythm and you see that when he is on the ball, when we can bring him in the right spaces, he is really incredible.
“It wasn’t the most difficult goal he scored in his life but maybe one of the most important because it’s his first of a lot, hopefully. Everybody is really pleased for him.”
Ryan Gravenberch gets his first goal in Liverpool colours!! 🤩
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 5, 2023
United signed one A. Onana this summer but they might’ve got two.
Everton’s 22-year-old Belgium international midfielder caught the eye in his debut season at Goodison Park, leading to the Red Devils approaching Everton over a potential deal. But he ended up staying put after the Merseyside club held firm on their £50million+ valuation.
“It’s not at all a missed opportunity,” he told Le Soir in September.
“In football, it’s all about timing. You have to be patient.”
Onana will inevitably be linked with a move from Goodison Park once again next summer. He’s looked solid for Sean Dyche’s side as they’ve increasingly looked as though as they’ll be untroubled by relegation this season.
Like Gravenberch, it appeared that Pavard wasn’t a big part of Thomas Tuchel’s plans at Bayern Munich. The French World Cup winner was a constant fixture of the summer’s gossip columns, with Manchester United frequently cited as one of his top suitors.
Jonny Evans and Sergio Reguilon ended up being stopgap signings for Ten Hag’s defence and Pavard signed for Inter Milan in the final days of the window.
He’s looked a natural fit for the Serie A table-toppers and has settled in nicely in Simone Inzaghi’s back three. Unfortunately, he’s just suffered a setback with a nasty dislocated kneecap injury and could be sidelined until
It had long been suggested that, when the time came for Kane to leave Tottenham, United would swoop in to make it happen. They could promise him the shot at breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record and an increased shot at silverware in England.
But even as things ramped up with Bayern Munich in the final weeks of the summer window, the Red Devils refused to budge.
They’ve not been averse to superstar signings in recent years but they’ve changed tack a little by instead investing £72million in the raw potential of 20-year-old striker Rasmus Hojlund.
The Mail Online reported that the United hierarchy baulked at Kane’s considerable salary demands after recently getting David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo off their wage bill.
The England captain isn’t doing too badly for himself out in Germany.
Back in July, the Mail Online reported that the talented Bayer Leverkusen winger had his heart set on a move to the Premier League, with both Arsenal and Manchester United showing interest.
Diaby got his wish with a move to England, with Aston Villa winning the race for his signature and completing a club-record £51million.
The France international has three goals and three assists in his first 11 Premier League appearances for Villa, which is three times as many as all of United’s forwards combined, so it’s safe to say he’s doing alright.
We were so convinced the highly-rated young Japanese goalkeeper was going to sign for United that we wrote up a whole profile on him.
Suzuki confirmed himself that he did have the option to go to Old Trafford but decided to prioritise regular minutes at this fledgeling stage of his career.
“I decided to transfer this time as a step up in aiming to be the best in the world. It’s true that there was an offer from Manchester United,” the 20-year-old explained.
“As a football player and as a person, if I hadn’t thought about anything, of course, I would like to go to Manchester United, but among them, I really want to spend time thinking about what kind of future awaits me. After much thought, I made this decision.
“Manchester United have acquired [Andre] Onana. It’s important for me to participate in matches, and I think it is also important to play on the world stage. I want to make the most of what I have learned here and do my best.”
That decision has been vindicated by the backup United did sign, Altay Bayindir, playing a grand sum of zero minutes so far this season. Suzuki is playing regularly for Belgian side Sint-Truidense VV, but he’s conceded 17 goals in nine Jupiler Pro League appearances to date.