The irony that the season has been halted, perhaps only temporarily, but halted nevertheless, will not have been lost on Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
For their Premier League season, which has been largely a massive disappointment, appeared to be just turning the corner when football came to a standstill just under a fortnight ago.
At the time, United were on an 11-match unbeaten run and showing signs they could potentially end the campaign on a high.
That run and the enforced break may have given the Norwegian some additional breathing space, given there has been much speculation about his position.
Yet it is certain that, if the club is as professional as it should be, its recruitment policy will already be in full swing and senior figures at the club will already know which targets it needs to bring in this summer.
Regardless of when the football resumes, whether it be the end of this campaign or the start of the next one, the gaps in the current squad are crystal clear.
To this SBOTOP observer, there is a need to strengthen with the priority being a dominant world-class centre back (some would argue United do not need that), a top-drawer midfield addition (possibly two if they sell Paul Pogba) and a centre forward with a real presence who can offer something different to their other current attacking talents.
It’s apparent that the squad, at this moment in time, lacks the depth to mount a genuine top four challenge – let alone be in his position to compete for the title.
The seeds of hope in recent weeks have grown as players have recovered from injury but, overall, they remain someway short. In fact, the only reason the team has made it to fifth spot is because the overall quality has plummeted – the general points tally is proof of that.
So, who should the club sign?
As is the norm with United, there is never a shortage of names linked to England’s number one club and 95% of those you’ll probably read about over the next few months will have no substance whatsoever.
Among those being linked, who would undoubtedly strengthen the squad, are Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly. The 28 year-old has been heavily backed to leave Naples with United regularly linked for approaching a year now.
United are also monitoring Croatia international Duje Caleta-Car with reports the Marseille centre-back has been watched by them on several occasions this season.
In midfield, several European heavyweights are queuing up to sign Paris Saint-Germain talent Edouard Michut.
The teenager has been likened to Italy midfielder Marco Verratti for his technical ability and creativity.He has impressed for France at Under-17 level and has already attracted strong interest from United (as well as Barcelona and Juventus).
In midfield, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and Leicester City’s James Maddison have been regularly touted with a move to Old Trafford.
The stats are telling to my mind.
Maddison has scored six goals and provided three assists in the Premier League as the east Midlanders look to secure a Champions League spot, but Grealish’s figures – of seven goals and six assists – are even more impressive given he is playing for relegation-threatened Villa.
The most regularly linked name to United, however, is someone who turns 20 today.
Supposedly, United have been in contact with Jadon Sancho’s agent for two months and are confident they can win the race to sign him this summer.
The Dortmund star has enjoyed a sterling campaign that has seen him directly involved in 29 goals from 23 games.
He has become one of Europe’s most wanted players so is naturally being linked to several high-profile teams.
One for the future, potentially, is Birmingham City 16 year-old Jude Bellingham who has been spotted at United’s training facility in recent weeks with Sir Alex Ferguson, no less, leading the tour of the facilities.
A dark horse move could be Lille striker Victor Osimhen who has netted 18 times with six assists in all competitions, while a player who excites me in Lique 1 is Lyon striker Moussa Dembele who is coming to the end of his second season in France and has scored 42 goals for the club in 88 games.
Dembele is only 23 and would be a good fit for this United squad, even if Odion Ighalo signs on a permanent basis after an impressive start to his loan spell.
RB Leipzig frontman Timo Werner could also be a real coup. Imagine the Premier League highlights those two could contribute to.
Solskjaer – and just as importantly Ed Woodward – it’s over to you.
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