Manchester United had a relatively poor transfer window, with four outgoings (Anthony Martial, Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood [for reasons beyond United's control]), and ZERO players incoming.
There were strong links to Ousmane Dembele and Boubacar Kamara, but talks for the former never seriously progressed from talks with his camp to the club, and for the latter, United quizzically refused to pay his extremely cheap £10 million valuation, as they consistently refrained from buying any player for the interim coach, Ralf Rangnick.
He wanted Amadou Haidara, which couldn't happen due to differences in valuation, and a move for Denis Zakaria failed to materialise, (despite his £6-7 million price tag), as the scouts felt he didn't suit the Premier League, and that he wasn't a big enough upgrade to the current midfield when these are the same scouts who were adamant on paying £50 million for Fred!
Let's delve in, discuss, and debate, what Manchester United's best XI is now until June, with them arguably being in a weaker position now than where they were when the window opened.
Here's my XI and my reasoning behind it:
David De Gea: The Spaniard is well and truly back to his best, after a barren 18-month spell, as he is currently replicating his form that won him the Premier League Golden Glove and a place in the FIFA Men's World 11 in the 2017-18 season. He's made countless saves and won many Man of the Match and Player of the Month awards along the way. He's certainly the best shot-stopper on the planet right now.
Diogo Dalot: After casting a forlorn figure with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, Diogo Dalot has been revitalized under the tutelage of Rangnick, with the German giving him a run of games to cement his place in the side. He's consistently performed well, looking far more solid defensively, but really showing off the best part to his game, which is his incisive forward runs, and eloquently whipped in crosses. He's become one of United's most important players right now.
Raphael Varane: Despite being injured for large portions of the season, Raphael Varane has been consistently excellent whenever he's played, showing the leadership and composure that you would expect from a centre-back who's played for Real Madrid for a decade. His recovery pace has been crucial in United's back four. Easily United's best defender.
Victor Lindelof: With Harry Maguire now regularly showing why he's one of the most overrated centre-backs on the planet, Victor Lindelof has stepped in, and despite being cast in Varane's shadow, he's been consistently solid, and clearly complements Varane very well, with his excellent passing range and calmness on the ball.
Alex Telles: Whenever Telles has played, his crossing and general attacking play has been great to watch, and in terms of defending he's managed to develop tremendously. After an excellent 2020-21 season, Luke Shaw has been woeful this year, resulting in Telles getting a run of games, and putting in deliveries with such exquisite whip and accuracy, which is crucial with Cristiano Ronaldo as your centre-forward.
Scott McTominay: He simply must play due to lack of alternatives. In essence a bang average player as a central defensive midfielder, but someone with plenty of potential as a box-to-box one. He needs to play here due to his physicality, especially since Nemanja Matic doesn't have the legs, and Fred doesn't have the touch or physicality.
Paul Pogba: United's best midfielder by far, and certainly one of their best players, Paul Pogba is really the complete midfielder. Brilliant passing, covering all distances, a wonderful striker of the ball, great feet for such a tall man, and super strength and balance and dribbling. A World Cup and Nations League winner with France. He started the season tremendously with 7 assists in his first three games, but an injury has resulted in him rarely playing since. He's back now and United's end to this season is realistically in his hands.
Bruno Fernandes: If van de Beek wasn't on loan he would be my other 8, but Fernandes is a fairly able replacement. He has moments of quality where he can play a wonderful pass, but the word for him is inconsistency. Too many times he gives the ball away and shoots from ridiculous positions due to lack of discipline, and since he's nowhere near as talented as Pogba in his shooting and dribbling with his long-range strikes rarely test the goalkeeper, rather the reflexes of the fans in Row-Z, he has to play long-range passes frequently because he simply doesn't have the ability to beat a man! He's someone who can be inspirational in moments with a great mentality and passion for the club and has undoubted qualities. However, it must be coached into him, so he becomes a more well-rounded player with better decision-making, which will result in more consistency.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Cristiano has had a decent return to United, already netting 14 times, with six of them coming from five UEFA Champions League games. He's scored vital goals including a brace to secure a 2-2 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta, a 95th-minute winner against Villarreal at home and also the first goal in a 0-2 against the same team away from home. It's fair to say United would be out of the Champions League without him. He's struggled with a lack of service, and will be hoping he gets more chances in front of goal to up his tally for the rest of the season.
Jadon Sancho: With Martial gone, the only creative winger United have left is Jadon Sancho. He's a man who looks to cut in and play a pass, as opposed to Marcus Rashford or Anthony Elanga who often put their head down and shoot. The best players have wing mirrors, meaning they have a picture in their heads of what's going on around them. Sancho has this, and despite only netting twice this season, he's shown his abundance of talent in glimpses this season, and will now look to push on for the rest of the season. Dazzling feet and football IQ in abundance, he will go on to be a top winger in the future.
Anthony Elanga: With Rashford getting better, but still not in any sort of form, Anthony Elanga has come in and been a breath of fresh air. Despite not being an amazing talent, he's been solid, showing tidy feet and willingness to track back due to a healthy work rate. He'll be vital to United this season, with them only having three true wingers until at least June!
One player to watch is Hannibal Mejbri. As I reported yesterday, he will join United's first-team training setup upon his return to the club from AFCON. Rangnick appreciates Mejbri’s qualities, and due to the lack of depth in attacking positions, he will be given chances to play.
Mejbri's a wonderful talent, alongside Amad Diallo (on loan at Rangers), and United believe that these two players are part of their long-term future.