Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United have scrambled in previous windows, now we’re in a good place

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he “can’t ask for more backing” from Manchester United after securing both Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane early in the transfer window.

Real Madrid defender Varane’s arrival should be confirmed in the coming days, United’s second major signing of the summer after Sancho’s £73m move from Borussia Dortmund.

And Solskjaer seemed both relieved and delighted with getting the bulk of United’s business done with two-and-a-half weeks until the start of the season, a far cry from previous seasons where the club have “scrambled” late in the window.

“I think, as I’ve said before, every manager would be happy the sooner and earlier the deals are done and this year we’ve managed to get it sorted,” Solskjaer said after Wednesday’s 2-2 friendly draw against Brentford in front of
30,000 fans at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have confirmed a deal has been agreed with Real Madrid to sign Raphael Varane

“I think the two we’ve got in will make a huge difference for us, both this season short-term but also long-term.

“Raphael is into his prime as a centre-back. He’s the same age as Harry (Maguire), a year older than Eric (Bailly) and a couple years older than Victor (Lindelof) so there I’ve got a fantastic group of centre-backs.

“With Jadon as well, with the young forwards we’ve got it’s exciting. As a manager you can’t ask for more backing when you’ve got these two in as early as we have.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


Solskjaer says Raphael Varane is a proven winner and Sir Alex Ferguson had tried to sign the France centre-back when he was in charge

“We’ve scrambled before towards the end of the window and now I think, I have to say, we’re in a good position. Pre-season is always difficult, though, in a championship year, never mind in the pandemic with the quarantining and isolation.

“You can see the team tonight, there’s loads of youngsters still. Everyone who has worked pre-season has done well and now they’re coming in drips and drabs.

“We haven’t got time to play catch-up so the others turning up late and don’t get a proper pre-season or are not fit when they come in, they might struggle to get into the team because today was a very good performance.”

‘Varane gives us different ways of playing’

Varane gives Man Utd a “different way of playing”, says Solskjaer

Solskjaer believes proven winner Varane will make a “huge difference” for Manchester United moving forwards.

Having finished runners-up in last season’s Premier League and Europa League, the Old Trafford giants have made waves in the transfer market in a bid to bring silverware back to the club.

On Varane, Solskjaer said: “Of course very happy that we’ve managed to get a deal with Real Madrid. The medical should hopefully be OK and he’s a proven winner. He’s a player we’ve followed for many, many years.

“I know Sir Alex (Ferguson) was very, very close to signing him, so this time around we’ve got him at the other end of his career.

“He’s proved over his whole career what a good person he is first of all, professional and he’s won what there is to win. I’m very happy getting both our players in.

“First of all, the club shows ambition with one of the most exciting young forwards in world football and one of the most respected centre-backs in the world and one of the most winning centre-backs in the world.

“With him in of course we’ve got different ways of playing as well. I can see different ways of playing with Raphael. I can’t wait to get him in. Hopefully we can get that sorted as soon as.”

‘Elanga electric’ | ‘Give Pereira goal of the season now!’

Andreas Pereira hit a quite sublime volley for Man Utd against Brentford
Andreas Pereira hit a quite sublime volley for Man Utd against Brentford

Speaking about the draw with Premier League new boys Brentford at Old Trafford, Solskjaer praised Andreas Pereira for his second-half wonder strike, as well as 19-year-old Anthony Elanga, whose fine strike made it two goals in his last two games in pre-season.

“We might just hand [goal of the season] out now!” he told MUTV. “That hit was just out of this world. I was thinking ‘take a touch!’ but he’s skillful, and Andreas has technique. What a hit.

“The first goal was some great passing, combination, and a great volley from Anthony (Elanga), who is just improving and getting better and better. The boy is electric, his energy, his enthusiasm, he is really enjoying himself.

“He’s done himself the world of good. We know he’s a good player, a good lad, he works so hard, he’s always smiley and bright, and is asking what more to do. He is hungry to improve and get better, he can play wide right, wide left, up front, anywhere, so he’s going to be an asset.

“I enjoyed the first half especially, we played some good combination play, through the lines, and defended well inside the box. Some of the football was magnificent. It was a good goal by them, to be fair, but they didn’t have a lot else. So very pleased by the first half.

“Second half, always pre-season with loads of changes it will be a bit more messy, the tempo wasn’t as good, the rhythm wasn’t as good, but a big step forward I felt.”

Is Varane the missing piece in Man Utd’s jigsaw?

Manchester United fans are understandably delighted with Raphael Varane’s imminent arrival from Real Madrid, although the club would not have needed to spend over £40m on the defender had Sir Alex Ferguson managed to lure the Frenchman to Old Trafford a decade ago.

A young Varane was starting to grab people’s attention in what was his debut campaign with Lens in 2010/11, including that of United’s then French scout David Friio, who became a regular attendee during the player’s final few months at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Varane, just turned 18, may not have been able to save Lens from relegation from Ligue 1 that season, but that did not bother Ferguson, who knew a future world star when he saw one.

Unfortunately for the Scot, he was not the only one running his eye over Varane and with the United manager en route to northern France to sign the centre-back, Real Madrid’s new special adviser learned of the meeting and quickly intervened.

One phone call from Zinedine Zidane was all it needed for Varane to end up in Madrid, not Manchester that summer, with Un

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