Manchester United must sign a centre-back and a defensive midfielder if they want to qualify for the Champions League this season, reckons former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor. United have lost two of their first three matches of the new Premier League season and were hammered for six on Sunday.
Tottenham’s 6-1 win dealt a major gut punch to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co, who had also lost their previous home game of the season against Crystal Palace.
The Red Devils already trail the likes of Everton, Leicester, Arsenal and Liverpool by six points or more – although they have a game in hand on the quartet.
But already the top-four prospects of United are being question, with Solskjaer’s charges having conceded 11 goals in three games to leave them sat 16th.
And Agbonlahor, who spent 13 years in Villa’s first team and scored 86 goals in 391 games, fears that unless United recuit in defence and in defensive midfield before tonight’s 11pm transfer deadline, they will miss out to their rivals.
“I want to see Manchester United sign a centre-back in the next five hours and a defensive midfielder,” he told Sky Sports News.
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“They need to force it through. I’m not a Manchester United fan but everyone wants to see United compete and if they want to do that they need to sign players.
“If they don’t strengthen they won’t finish in the top four.”
United have opted against signing a new centre-half despite long-standing interest in the likes of RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
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And they have Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay among their options in defensive midfield, instead prioritising offensive recruitment, with attacking midfielder Donny van de Beek to be joined by free agent Edinson Cavani after the failed pursuit of Sancho.
Attack-minded left-back Alex Telles is also expected to seal a move to Old Trafford before the day is done.
Agbonlahor added: “I’m a bit on the fence with Cavani, I feel it’s a bit of a panic buy.
“Manchester United could have got Cavani three months ago, they waited until Saturday to make an enquiry. I feel United need to go out and get a centre-half, they’re crying out for them.
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“We’ve seen [Harry] Maguire, [Eric] Bailly, [Victor] Lindelof, they’re not good enough at the moment and they’re going to cost them top four at the moment.
“If you’re [Paul] Pogba, [Bruno] Fernandes, [Marcus] Rashford, you’re thinking to yourself: ‘How many goals do we have to score now to ensure we win?’ with that defence behind them.”
United had been linked with Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele as an alternative for Borussia Dortmund wide-man Jadon Sancho.
Sancho was Solskjaer’s top target but the Red Devils refused to pay his £108million asking price.
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And Agbonlahor believes Dembele would have been a worthwhile back-up, although a deal appears unlikely before 11pm.
“Ousmane Dembele would save Ed Woodward a bit of grief on social media because Man United fans want to see these players come in,” he continued.
“They’ve tried to get Jadon Sancho, it’s not worked, and Dembele was their next option and it looked like that wasn’t going to work so they’ve gone for Edinson Cavani.
“Dembele showed what he could do at Dortmund, he’s a great winger and he can score goals and he’ll add competition for places for the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
“If they can get Dembele and Cavani through, it’ll be a good window, along with a top centre-half who has got speed that could help Harry Maguire.
“But if they only get Cavani through, I think it’s a really bad transfer window for Manchester United because we’ve seen at the start to this season, there’s a lot that needs fixing in that squad.”
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