Is this how Manchester United will line-up at the start of the season?
The arrival of Jose Mourinho will lead to a completely new look Manchester United to the side that struggled under Louis van Gaal. This is how the Red Devils will likely line up in their first game of the season against Leicester in the Community Shield:
GK: David De Gea
David de Gea has established himself as one of the world’s elite goalkeepers in the past two years. The talent was obvious since his move to Old Trafford from Atlético, but his development has accelerated him to the top of the game.
The Spaniard had an average claim rate of 93%, proving himself to be a dominant force in his area as well as one of the best reactive shot-stoppers in the league.
LB: Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw will be looking to make a storming comeback from injury following a debilitating leg break that has kept him out since September. The 20-year-old is one of the hottest prospects in English football, a complete full back with a fierce physicality that many believe will light up the world stage.
Shaw made 3.8 clearances per game last season before his injury, a true asset to the United defence.
CB: Chris Smalling
Smalling defied expectation during Louis van Gaal’s stint at Old Trafford. A once nervous and error-prone young centre-back became a rock at the heart of the defence. Smalling has grown to be a vital presence in the United defence, and while he still makes mistakes, his sheer pace and strength help him recover.
Smalling made 2.8 interceptions per game last season, a testament to his growing maturity and footballing intelligence.
CB: Eric Bailly
New £30m man Eric Bailly arrived at United relatively unknown compared to Mourinho’s other signings this summer. The 22-year-old Ivorian is quick, a strong tackler and incredibly versatile, being able to slot into any part of the defence.
The ex-Villarreal man made two tackles per game in La Liga last season, and should add some fire to the United back line.
RB: Matteo Darmian
Darmian somewhat struggled to find form his form last season, but the 26-year-old is still United’s best option at right back. The Italian is a defensive rock when he’s on form, as well as offering a threat going forward. He’s useful on both sides of the defence, an underestimated trait in a fullback.
He made three successful tackles a game last season in a very possession-based system.
CM: Morgan Schneiderlin
Schneiderlin can be the holding midfielder that every defence wants to have in front of them. He’s physical, accurate in the tackle without being reckless and has a decent passing range. On paper, he’s a perfect midfielder for Jose Mourinho.
The 26-year-old Frenchman made 2.4 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game in the league last season, taking a huge strain off of the United defence.
CM: Ander Herrera
With the departure of Bastian Schweinsteiger on the cards and Mourinho’s apprehension over playing Wayne Rooney in midfield, Ander Herrera seems like the best choice to partner Schneiderlin in the midfield. The Spaniard has a great eye for a pass coupled with the technique to pull it off, and his creativity could be the spark United need to start attacks from deep.
Herrera had an 84% pass completion rate in the league last season.
LW: Anthony Martial
Managers, pundits and fans alike ran out of superlatives to describe Anthony Martial last season. At first, £36m for a player with less than 50 senior appearances seemed like an absurd overspend, but the 20-year-old is on his way to justifying the price tag. His aggression and direct dribbling, coupled with his intelligent movement and solid finishing will undoubtedly contribute to another fantastic season for the Frenchman.
Martial completed 2.7 attacking dribbles per game in the Premier League last season, coupled with 11 goals and four assists.
CAM: Juan Mata
This season will see Jose Mourinho reunited with Juan Mata. The Spaniard is a traditional number 10: the primary hook between the midfield and attack that links and creates the play. Quique Sanchez Flores said Mata is “an amazing player, he’s very dangerous.” Mata was sold by Mourinho, with speculation rumoured that he simply didn’t have the defensive work rate for the team. Time will tell if history repeats itself.
Mata averaged 1.4 key passes a game last season, so he may yet prove a stalwart of Mourinho’s United.
RW: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Mkhitaryan is another reinforcement that will doubtless prove vital in the upcoming campaign. The Armenian was a lynchpin of the Dortmund side that finished 2nd in the Bundesliga last season, leading the league’s assists totals.
The 27-year-old also scored 11 times in the league last season, and can doubtless be another threat for United to rely upon.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic will doubtless go down as one of the great strikers of this era. The controversial 34-year-old has claimed 13 titles across four different leagues, and one of only two players to have scored in every single minute of a match during their careers. The Swedish legend is closing in on 400 career goals after netting 47 times in 41 games for PSG last season, and the bookies will have him at short odds to break that barrier next season.
Ibrahimovic also assisted 13 goals in Ligue 1 alone, proving him to be more than just a lethal centre forward.
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