The Premier League season may have started but the transfer window remains open until the end of the month – and Manchester United have already shown that they have the greatest need of the top teams to make use of the market.
Sunday’s home defeat to Brighton in their opening game served up the familiar sight of a baffled United manager, who worked with his players for weeks in pre-season only for them to concede a chance in the opening 30 seconds.
New boss Erik Ten Hag has inherited serious problems, the most pressing of which are in midfield. The Dutchman has players who just aren’t good enough on a regular basis to wear the shirt, such as Scott McTominay and Fred.
United huff and puff but fall short. The team looks disjointed, lacks courage and the Old Trafford crowd seems to be losing faith. Creative players like Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho have forgotten what they are good at.
They need a player to sit in front of the back four, one like Rodri at neighbours Manchester City. They seem keen on Adrien Rabiot of Juventus, who reminds me of Nemanja Matic: left-footed, one-paced but a good decision maker. I’d take him; they need to do something.
A deal for forward Marko Arnautovic looks dead now after fans opposed it but I don’t think it would have been such a bad idea. United need players who won’t crumble and Arnautovic has always had swagger.
I would keep Cristiano Ronaldo if he can buy into the fact that, at 37, he won’t start every game. That’s uncertain and, in his defence, I can understand if he feels let down by many of his team-mates last season.
Whoever United try to sign this month, a defeat in their opening match has left Ten Hag with a very difficult sales pitch.
If I was United and Chelsea target Frenkie de Jong I’d certainly swerve Manchester for London, where he could be a long-term replacement for Jorginho.
The Blues also need to buy but their first move should be wrapping up a deal for Wesley Fofana. The Leicester centre-back has looked so assured from his first day in the Premier League. He could cost a record fee for a defender but he’s worth spending a few quid on.
While signing Raheem Sterling from City was a steal, Chelsea are short at centre-forward, which has been a cursed position for them. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the latest name linked and is known to manager Thomas Tuchel but, at 33, must be running out of gas.
There is a case to be made for Liverpool buying a midfielder after Thiago Alcantara’s injury on the opening weekend left them looking light.
Jurgen Klopp hasn’t replenished midfield as much as other positions and, given that Thiago, Jordan Henderson and James Milner are all in their 30s, there is a danger of it becoming a little stale. On the other hand, tinkering might not work and I don’t think Klopp will do business unless there is another injury.
City’s sale of Oleksandr Zinchenko has left them light at left-back, even if Joao Cancelo is comfortable there.
If Sergio Gomez is loaned out after signing from Anderlecht, Pep Guardiola could add another senior option but I think he will be mindful of how much any signing will improve the squad rather than buying for the sake of it.
Transfer business looks to be done in north London, meanwhile. Arsenal have signed really well, with Gabriel Jesus the highlight, while Tottenham’s win over Southampton demonstrated the strength and versatility of Antonio Conte’s squad this season.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63.