Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Koulibaly may not be held in quite as high esteem as the likes of Raphael Varane, Gerard Pique and Virgil van Dijk, but the Senegal international belongs in any conversation about the world’s best centre-backs.
Standing at 6ft 5in tall, the well-built Napoli defender is rarely muscled off the ball by opposition strikers. Yet while he’s undoubtedly strong in the air and tough in the tackle, Koulibaly is just as adept at carrying the ball into midfield and starting attacks with his precise passing from deep.
Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)
Romelu Lukaku may have averaged a goal every 130 minutes this season, but he hasn’t done enough to convince United supporters that he’s the man to spearhead a team with title-challenging aspirations. Icardi probably wouldn’t bring much more than the Belgian in terms of link-up play, but he’s one of Europe’s most devastating finishers inside the penalty area.
The Argentine was stripped of the captaincy by Inter’s hierarchy earlier this term, and the frequent public pronouncements of his agent and wife, Wanda Nara, have cast his San Siro future into doubt. United should seriously consider making a move for a striker who’s struck 115 goals in his last 193 Serie A outings.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Ashley Young has been criticised by United fans for some substandard showings, but it’s hard to place the blame on a former winger who’s been pushed into service at right-back. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must address that problem position this summer, and Wan-Bissaka should be the name at the top of the Norwegian’s wish list.
The 21-year-old deservedly scooped Crystal Palace’s Player of the Year award following a magnificent campaign in which he’s displayed the maturity and assuredness of a veteran. A tough tackler who has the speed to go toe-to-toe with even the quickest of wingers, Wan-Bissaka is also a threat going forward and would instantly improve United’s ropey backline.
Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)
With Ander Herrera poised to join PSG, Juan Mata out of contract and Paul Pogba reportedly keen on a move to Real Madrid, United’s midfield could look very different next season. Nemanja Matic will probably stay put, but he’s shown signs of decline this term and Solskjaer should seek an upgrade at the base of midfield.
Ndombele would provide the mobility and dynamism that the 30-year-old Matic increasingly lacks, while he also possesses the drive and ball-carrying ability to push forward and join the attack when required. At 22, moreover, he’s likely to get even better in the future.
Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
David de Gea’s form has been a major concern for United, who must begin making contingency plans in case the Spaniard – whose contract expires in 2020 – departs this summer. Oblak is probably the best goalkeeper in the world right now, and although he only signed an extension at Atletico Madrid in April, the Slovenian could still leave unless the Spanish side are able to convince him that they can compete with Barcelona next season.
Oblak would cost in excess of £100m, but that would still represent good value for a player who could still have a decade at the top ahead of him.
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Still only 19 years old, Havertz has already racked up more than 100 professional appearances for Bayer Leverkusen. This has comfortably been his best season yet, with the attacking midfielder having contributed 17 goals and six assists in all competitions.
A creative passer and dynamic runner, Havertz has excelled both out wide and in a central role. He’s been likened to Michael Ballack for the sheer range of attributes in his armoury, and the evidence of the teenager’s career so far suggests that he would be utterly unfazed by a big-money switch to Old Trafford.
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
According to Upamecano’s agent, United came close to signing the defender before his move from Valenciennes to Liefering in 2015, only for the deal to collapse when the Premier League giants changed the terms of their offer.
Going back in for the 20-year-old this summer would be a smart move, with United in desperate need of improving the heart of the backline. Fast, strong and excellent in one-on-one duels, Upamecano is a modern centre-half who’s also comfortable with the ball at his feet.