7 quality free agents Man Utd should sign this summer: Eriksen, Belotti…

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Brentford's Christian Eriksen during the Premier League match at the Brentford Community Stadium. Saturday April 23, 2022.

After Manchester United had a disastrous 2021-22 season, new manager Erik ten Hag will undoubtedly look to overhaul the squad this summer. 

The likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard have already left on free transfers while they’ve been heavily linked with Frenkie de Jong and Antony.

But United have many areas they need to address and Ten Hag reportedly has a £120million budget to work with. De Jong and Antony would take up most of that budget, so he may have to look at some free transfers. 

We’ve listed seven free agents United can target to raise the level of their squad ahead of 2022-23.

Christian Eriksen

After suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch at the Euros last summer, Eriksen returned to the Premier League in January and had a huge impact during his short stint at Brentford.

The 30-year-old added some composure and quality to their midfield, registering a goal and four assists in 11 Premier League appearances.

Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have both left United this summer, and he would ease the creative burden on Bruno Fernandes, who wasn’t able to hit his usual high standards in 2021-22.

According to The Athletic, United are already one step ahead of us as they’ve offered the Denmark international a contract at Old Trafford.

But Brentford are keen to extend his stay at the club, and he’s also been linked with a return to former club Tottenham.

“I have different offers and options, which we are considering, and then we make a decision,” he recently told Viaplay.

“I would love to play Champions League football again. I know how much fun it is, but it isn’t essential for me.”

Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring for Bretford against Chelsea. Stamford Bridge, London, 2 April 2022.

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Florian Grillitsch

It’s no secret that United are in desperate need of some new central midfielders this summer.

Scott McTominay and Fred have become much-maligned figures at Old Trafford while Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic have both left on free transfers.

De Jong would undoubtedly be a brilliant signing, but he likes to run with the ball through the middle of the pitch. United still need a defensive midfielder and Grillitsch fits the bill perfectly.

He’s spent the last five years at Hoffenheim and has established himself as a top Bundesliga midfielder due to his ability to break up opposing moves before starting them for his own side.

The Austria international, who can also fill at centre-back, had a difficult 2021-22 campaign due to injuries and illness but will be hoping to rediscover his best form at a new club.

Ten Hag’s side will have to act quickly if they want to get the deal done as Serie A side Fiorentina are reportedly in advanced talks to sign him.

Corentin Tolisso

While De Jong is United’s top target, they are not willing to pay the £75million asking price and could look at other targets if they can’t negotiate a better price.

Tolisso might be one of those alternatives as his contract at Bayern Munich is set to expire at the end of the month.

The France international cost Bayern £35.2million in 2017, but he struggled with injuries during his time at Bavaria and undoubtedly needs a fresh start to get his career back on track.

“I am convinced that [my issues] are more psychological than physical,” he said recently. “It’s more in my head than with my body. I worked with a mental coach to put words to what I was going through.

“Now, I’m 5,000% convinced I can get back to a very high level physically. I’m going to do a one-month training period so that I’m ready for the start of next season.

“I want to go play a major role in a club. To continue winning trophies… I know what I’m capable of. I know to what point a change in my life and in my surroundings will do me good.”

According to ESPN, the 27-year-old has his sights set on a move to the Premier League this summer and this could end up being a really shrewd signing for United.

Ousmane Dembele

After spending £73million for Jadon Sancho last summer, United thought they had finally found the solution to their right-wing problem.

But Sancho’s best performances in a United shirt have come from the left flank and the same can be said for Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

United have been linked with a move for Ajax’s Antony but the Eredivisie side aren’t looking to do Ten Hag any favours and reportedly want €60million.

Dembele, who once cost Barcelona £135.5million, could be a great alternative as he looks set to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.

He was previously linked with United in the summer of 2020 but a deal failed to materialise, and he is now attracting interest from Chelsea, PSG and Juventus.

The France international finished top of the La Liga assists chart in 2021-22 after setting up 13 goals for his team-mates in 21 league appearances.

Admittedly, he’s struggled with injury problems during his five years at Barcelona but his undoubted talent means it’s definitely worth the risk.

Andrea Belotti

Darwin Nunez was reportedly high on United’s priority list this summer but has now completed an £85million move to Liverpool.

While United do need a new striker following Edinson Cavani’s departure and the uncertainty surrounding Martial’s future, they do still have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo proved that age is just a number by scoring 24 goals in all competitions in 2021-22 and any new arrival will probably be behind him in the pecking order.

But Belotti could be willing to accept a back-up role at Old Trafford and would provide a good option for United when the 37-year-old needs to be rested.

The 28-year-old Italy international scored 113 goals during his seven years at Torino, including eight goals in 17 starts in the 2021-22 season.

He’s also been linked with United in the past and his physical presence means that he fits the mould of a Ten Hag striker.

Sam Johnstone

A United academy graduate, Johnstone won the FA Youth Cup at Old Trafford but never made a first-team appearance for the club.

The goalkeeper joined West Brom in 2018 and went on to record 44 clean sheets in 167 appearances, winning their Player of the Year awards in 2020-21.

While David de Gea is United’s first-choice goalkeeper, Dean Henderson has been linked with Bournemouth and Tom Heaton is wanted by Middlesbrough.

The Red Devils will need a new backup goalkeeper if they both leave Old Trafford and Johnstone would be an excellent No.2. According to Sky Sports, United officials have kept a close eye on his progress in the last four years.

But the England international has also been linked with Crystal Palace and they could offer him more regular first-team football.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba during the Premier League match at Old Trafford. September 2016.

READ: Sam Johnstone next? Seven players who had a second spell at Man Utd

Dan-Axel Zagadou

Having conceded 57 goals in 38 Premier League games in 2021-22, United have unsurprisingly been linked with new centre-backs.

But the likes of Pau Torres and Jurrien Timber are both valued at around £50million and United are reportedly prioritizing new midfielders and a forward.

Former United interim manager Ralf Rangnick reportedly instructed the club to target Borussia Dortmund’s Zagadou, and he’s now available on a free transfer.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injury problems and is far from the finished article, but he’s still a brilliant prospect and could thrive under Ten Hag’s tutelage.

Zagadou would also give United more depth in the centre-back position as Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have both been linked with moves away.

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