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Manchester United are making changes to their cultural reset in the transfer market

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 15/06/2021 Samuel Luckhurst

Since Manchester United hit the reset button on their 'culture' two years ago they have signed 10 players and just four have ticked their preferred age range of 23-28.

United abandoned their proclivity for British players quickly. The last seven recruits have come from Portugal, Nigeria, Holland, Uruguay, and the Ivory Coast, although Jadon Sancho is expected to become United's latest England international and Kieran Trippier has made arrangements to join him at Carrington.

Trippier left Tottenham in 2019, when United started their recruitment reboot and bragged they had scouted 804 right-backs before settling on the most obvious option in Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Crystal Palace.

Wan-Bissaka was 21 at the time of his £50million transfer and Trippier turns 31 in September. For all United's emphasis on long-term targets, they have embraced short-termism with Odion Ighalo, redundant after last June's restart, and the evergreen Edinson Cavani, whose contract has been extended.

'Long-term' is an idealistic phrase in football these days. David de Gea is the sole signing in the last decade United have had 10 years of service from and the only survivors from Louis van Gaal's 13 additions are Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, teenagers when they were driven into Carrington.

Wan-Bissaka has the attributes to secure a testimonial at United and he remains one of the most valuable right-backs around. No right-back with a minimum of 35 appearances across the major five European leagues averaged more sliding tackles last season and Wan-Bissaka is as impenetrable as a force field.

The trouble is Wan-Bissaka seems to hit a force field whenever approaching the final third. His crossing average per 90 minutes was a meagre 2.05 (Trippier's is 2.8, Trent Alexander-Arnold is 6.38 and Reece James 4.21) and his accuracy down on all of them. Trippier posted an impressive 41.24%.

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United are courting the 30-year-old Trippier, with the coaches frustrated by Wan-Bissaka's reticence in attack. Wan-Bissaka tallied as many assists and a goal more than Shaw last season but their attacking approaches were polar opposites for the majority. Shaw was named the United players' player of the year and finished runner-up to Fernandes for the Sir Matt Busby statue.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stakes much in personality and Wan-Bissaka is not an extrovert. He was as quiet as a mouse during his brief stay with the England squad when he spent two days at St George's Park during his September 2019 call-up before withdrawing and he is only bound to get a recall when Trippier or Kyle Walker retire. Wan-Bissaka has time on his side to get back into the fold.

As part of United's recruitment criteria, targets are required to be 'humble and respectful' off the pitch and arrogant when they pull on the shirt. Wan-Bissaka was the only inaudible United player at Old Trafford when the turnstiles were locked.

The loudest voice is not always the best, however, and a footballer's maxim is they do the talking on the pitch. Only Wan-Bissaka's shyness can hold him back and he does not transform into a different animal when he crosses the white line.

Better right-backs slipped the 804-wide net and Trippier was one of them - not that Ed Woodward would have dialled Daniel Levy's number. Phil Neville recommended Joao Cancelo, who he worked with at Valencia, to United in 2017 but five of the best right-backs around are English and Trippier is the attainable one.

Southgate explained Trippier was partly picked at left-back over Shaw and Ben Chilwell against Croatia for his communication next to left-sided centre-back Tyrone Mings, who only made his England debut in 2019.

Harry Maguire must sometimes feel like a one-man band in United's back four as its lead vocalist. Victor Lindelof finds his voice whenever Maguire is absent and is more outgoing than in his first two years at United but Trippier would offer more authority.

Sancho and Declan Rice are more aligned with United's age range and so is Raphael Varane, who turned 28 in April. Varane represents the most important culture United need to restore: a winning one.


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