Football’s enforced break due to the world’s coronavirus crisis has not stopped the transfer rumour mill churning, with daily reports linking a number of players to Manchester United.
It is widely known that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to rebuild a squad that is more dedicated and loyal than previous ones, but there is another area which United desperately need to address when dipping into the transfer market, and that is player durability in terms of injury.
The Red Devils have been at or near the top of the Premier League’s injury table for a number of seasons. They topped the table in 2018/19 with 61 separate injuries and look set to do so again in 2019/20 after long-term lay-offs for the likes of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba.
The last thing United need, therefore, is to sign injury-prone players and as such there are four players recently rumoured to be on the Reds’ radar who would be far better given a wide berth and a fifth whose injury record should be given serious consideration.
1. Gareth Bale
Nobody really takes ‘Bale to United’ rumours too seriously any more but recent reports of the Welshman being allowed to leave Real Madrid on a free transfer this summer – and United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward’s penchant for buying big, shirt-selling names on lucrative contracts – leaves the door just slightly ajar still. However, a hefty 594 days lost to injury since 2009 means that Bale would likely spend more time in the physio room than on the pitch, especially as he is now the wrong side of 30.
2. Samuel Umtiti
Rumours have resurfaced of late that United could be back in for the Barcelona centre back after it emerged that the Blaugrana would be willing to sell him this summer. Umtiti is undoubtedly world class, but having endured years of injury-prone centre backs such as Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly, the last thing the Red Devils need is another, and Umtiti has lost 304 days to injury since 2013/14.
3. Aaron Ramsey
Juventus’ desperation to sign Paul Pogba this summer has seen them reportedly offering several players in part-exchange. One such name is Aaron Ramsey, who has failed to set the world on fire at the Allianz Stadium since joining Juve from Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer. However, aside from the fact that Ramsey shunned Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United to join Arsenal in 2008, his woeful injury record – 834 days lost since 2009 – surely means that the Red Devils would be taking a massive gamble if they were to sign him.
4. Thiago Alcantara
Another player who once rebuffed United and who is now being linked with them once more is Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara. Thiago was set to be David Moyes’ first signing as United manager but became the first of many to slip through the net. The Sun reported in January that Thiago could be set to leave Bayern in the summer and could join United to replace Pogba, but he is another player whose injury record should rule him out of any approach from the Red Devils.
Thiago has an identical record to Ramsey of having lost 834 days to injury since 2009.
5. Harry Kane
Kane’s quality is such that most fans would not be put off by his injury record should United achieve the impossible and bring the England striker to Old Trafford. But it is certainly an issue worth considering, with 384 days lost since 2012 and, more worryingly, 185 in the last 18 months – that’s a third of each month in downtime for the 26-year-old. With any transfer fee likely to be north of £150 million and salary likely to be at least £300,000 per week, it could cost United around £20 million a year just to cover the periods when he is injured.
The good news for the overworked physio team at Old Trafford is that top target Jadon Sancho has an excellent injury record, having lost only two days to injury this season – another great reason to sign the 20-year-old at all costs.
United are hoping to make Jadon Sancho the next player to wear the famous number 7 shirt. But how much do you know about the players who have worn it before? Take our quiz below to find out.