Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Would any Manchester United players make it into the top four Premier League sides?

Currently, Manchester United sit seventh in the Premier League, six points behind Chelsea in fourth. A little debate that I’ve seen cropping up and that I find quite interesting is whether or not any of the current Manchester United team would be able to get into any of the top four Premier League sides.

Let’s go through them…

David De Gea United Keeper

Of the current top four, Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea, two have very settled world class goalkeepers between the posts. Alisson Becker at Liverpool is widely regarded as one of the best, if not THE best keeper in the world right now. Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Ederson is right up there with the elite stoppers too.

Then comes Chelsea, their goalkeeper Kepa has been in the media lately due to his attitude and reports manager Frank Lampard wants rid of him. As a ‘keeper, he’s decent – but he’s not De Gea level, so for me, De Gea walks into the Chelsea side.

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Then comes Leicester, Kasper Schmeichel has been a mainstay of that side since they made it back to the Premier League. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper, he really is, but De Gea is miles ahead of him for me.

Although he has made a few errors of late, De Gea is still one of Europe’s elite goalkeepers. His shot-stopping ability is incredible and he has won more points on his own for Manchester United than any other player over the last five years or so. So to sum up, he walks into Leicester and Chelsea, but struggles to get anywhere near Liverpool and City.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Right back

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is an outstanding full-back in many, many ways. His defensive ability is top class, but there have been question marks over his ability to impact the team in an offensive way – a skill vital to the modern day full-back, who play more like wing-backs these days.

Liverpool have Trent Alexander-Arnold – as much as I love AWB as a player, I believe Trent is one of the best young players in the world right now. He absolutely does NOT get into that side over Alexander-Arnold.

Manchester City have Kyle Walker/Joao Cancelo – he walks into that side without a doubt for me. City struggle so much defensively so it’s not even a question that he would help them out massively.

At Chelsea, Reece James is a great young player, but Wan-Bissaka just about beats him out for me. It’s a similar story at Leicester City, Ricardo Pereira has been brilliant for the Foxes, but I’d just about take Wan-Bissaka over him… although it’s tough. They’re pretty even for me – maybe rotate them.

Harry Maguire – Centre-back

Harry Maguire arrived at United from one of the top four last summer as they shelled out £85m to Leicester for his services. For me, Maguire walks back into the Leicester side alongside Caglar Soyuncu.

At Chelsea, he’d probably get in and play alongside Antonio Rudiger while I’m sure Manchester City would welcome him into their side with open arms. He’d offer far more to the side than the likes of Nicolas Otamendi. When fit, he and Aymeric Laporte could be a fairly monstrous centre-half pairing.

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That leaves Liverpool – for me, as much as it may sound good having the two most expensive defenders in history playing alongside one another, I’m not sure he’d get into that team.

They have a decent balance at the back currently with Joe Gomez currently partnering Virgil Van Dijk – I’m not so sure Jurgen Klopp would change that – even if he had Maguire.

Victor Lindelof – Centre-back

Victor Lindelof has turned into a pretty decent defender over the last year or so, as to whether or not he would make it into any of the other top four teams, I’m not so sure.

He isn’t getting anywhere Liverpool’s side – that seems obvious. As for Man City, he might make the bench but I’d personally take Otamendi or Stones to play alongside Laporte before Lindelof.

At Leicester, he’d again most likely take his place on the bench. Jonny Evans has been a rock for two seasons now and Caglar Soyuncu is the man of the hour in Leicestershire – so he ain’t getting in there.

Chelsea might be his best shot, but they also have a lot of decent options. Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen would all have something to say about Lindelof getting in there.

Luke Shaw – Left-back

Luke Shaw is an enigma of a footballer. He’s shown all the promise and talent of a world class left-back in the early years of his career, yet has somehow managed to become one of the most hated members of the United squad.

He’s overweight, out-of-form, half the player he used to be and somehow still only 24-years-old. I don’t see him getting into any of the top four Premier League sides to be honest.

Chelsea have either Marcos Alonso, Emerson Palmieri and/or Cesar Azpilicueta if needed – so that may be his best hope. Neither Alonso or Emerson have been in any sort of form this season, but I’m pretty sure Lampard would choose to start Azpilicueta there before even touching Shaw.

Leicester have Ben Chilwell, so that’s a no-go, City have Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko and/or Joao Cancelo – so that’s probably a no-go and Liverpool have perhaps the best left-back in the world right now – that’s a definite no.

Paul Pogba – Central midfield

This man has all the talent in the world to walk into any team in the world – but his attitude and off-field problems make him a little bit of a gamble for most of Europe’s elite.

It seems as though it would be obvious to say he would get into the Leicester side with little-to-no problems at all, but I’m not so sure. Wilfried N’didi plays the holding role very well, Youri Tielemans is outstanding and he is NOT getting in ahead of James Maddison in the attacking midfield role – so it’s tough.

Then comes City, he ain’t getting in there. Fernandinho (usually, I know he’s been at CB a lot lately), Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and David Silva are all better equipped to play in that system that Pogba is – so for me that doesn’t seem likely.

Chelsea is an interesting one, I think he would get into that side alongside Ngolo Kante. They’re French national teammates and won the World Cup playing in midfield together – so it would be silly to not recreate that if you had the chance to.

With Liverpool – although I think he’s a better footballer than at least two of their midfield three, I wouldn’t actually put him in that side over any of them. Liverpool have dropped two points this season – why tinker with (near) perfection?

Andreas Pereira – Central midfield

Andreas Pereira is, for me, not even good enough to play for Manchester United let alone any of the teams in the top four so I’m going to keep this short.

No. No he would not.

Bruno Fernandes – Attacking midfield

New signing Bruno Fernandes is a fantastic footballer and probably the best footballer at Manchester United’s disposal currently. In terms of the top four, you’d struggle to keep him out of any.

Liverpool would be the toughest as they don’t really play a system that would suit him all that well – even then, a player of his quality would surely give Klopp something of a headache selection wise. He could play in the Wijnaldum role but as I said earlier, it seems folly to mess with a perfectly balanced team.

He’d walk into Chelsea’s side in a heartbeat for me – despite my love for Mason Mount, he’d be dropped in a second for Bruno. Manchester City would be tough but I’m sure Pep Guardiola could find a way to accommodate him – perhaps in the role we’ve become accustomed to seeing the outgoing David Silva play.

Then comes Leicester, he’d want to play in the James Maddison role so if somehow that happened, Brendan Rodgers would have perhaps the best headache possible in football – how do I fit both of my world class attacking midfielders in the team? Likely, he’d push Maddison out wide and play Bruno through the middle – or vise versa.

Marcus Rashford – Left wing/forward

Marcus Rashford has an enjoyed a fantastic season so far this year – he’s been the shining light of the United side. With his pace, skill and fantastic technical ability, he’d be a welcome addition to any team.

In terms of getting into the team, Liverpool is a no-go. I’m not sure there’s a better left-winger in the world right now than Sadio Mane – so he ain’t getting in there.

Then comes Chelsea, Rashford most definitely walks into that side for me. With Rashford on one side and Christian Pulisic or Willian on the other, Chelsea would be a major force to be reckoned with. The same thing goes with Leicester – Harvey Barnes is a great young player but he would no doubt make way for Rashford.

Manchester City is an interesting one. Of late, the left-wing position has been Raheem Sterling’s with either Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez on the right wing. I think, given the option, Pep would play Rashford on the left and switch Sterling to the right.

Anthony Martial – Striker/Left Wing

United's Martial needs to be more consistent
United’s Martial needs to be more consistent

Anthony Martial, in my eyes, is a slightly less capable version of Marcus Rashford. He’s a cracking footballer, but does he get into the top four sides? No – at least not all of them.

In the same way Rashford doesn’t get into the side, Martial doesn’t stand a chance of getting into the Liverpool team, so let’s just gloss over that one. With Man City, while I’d prefer Rashford to say Mahrez, I would far rather have Mahrez or Bernardo Silva or Martial – they just offer more in my eyes.

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With Chelsea, I do think he would get into that side on the left wing – but not as a forward. In fact, as a striker I wouldn’t put him anywhere near any of these teams – his best shot is off the left wing for me.

With Leicester, rinse and repeat what I wrote above re Chelsea. He gets in on the left, but not through the middle.

Dan James – Right wing

Daniel James, while a fantastic young player, isn’t yet anywhere near the finished article. He has pace to burn, but still lacks that finishing touch to his game. For that reason, I wouldn’t put him in any of the top four sides.

I think, given time and some experience, he will become a fantastic footballer, but that’s a while off yet. Ayoze Perez, Willian, Mahrez/Silva and Mo Salah are all streets ahead currently in my honest opinion – but he’ll get there.

To sum up…

So, of the 11 players that currently make up Manchester United’s strongest team(ish), in my opinion, seven of them would get into at least one of the top four teams.

Bruno Fernandes is just about the only player who would have any shred of a chance of getting into all four of the sides, but even then the strength of that Liverpool side might veto that.

What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Let me know on our Twitter page or Facebook page.

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