With the exception of the early capture of Memphis Depay, United seemed to start slowly in the transfer market this summer, but following weeks of speculation and several red herrings, United have managed to land three names in the space of a few days.
Matteo Darmian was a necessary addition to replace makeshift full back Antonio Valencia, with Rafael rumoured to be leaving Old Trafford for Benfica. The Italian has played his way to being first choice right back for the Azzuri, and has recorded impressive stats for Torino, finishing the 2012/13 season with the most tackles in the top 5 European leagues. At six feet tall, he adds height to United’s set-piece defence, an issue highlighted by Van Gaal last season, as well as bringing versatility, pace on the ball and a solid goals and assists tally.
More high profile additions to United’s squad come in the shape of Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose departure has been mourned by players and fans alike in Bavaria, and Morgan Schneiderlin, who has been the subject of a great deal of talk this summer. It has been a point of agreement amongst United fans for a considerable period of time that the midfield was the area of the side that was the most lacking. Inspired performances from Michael Carrick, particularly last season and in United’s title winning campaign two years previously, have not been enough dismiss claims that United’s midfield has been incomplete since the departure of Roy Keane in 2005.
The pair of new midfield additions certainly bring a greater physical presence, with Schneiderlin one of the finest ball winning midfielders on the market, and Schweinsteiger arriving with a reputation as an intelligent reader of the game and a tough tackler.
The German World Cup winning captain is also a visionary passer of the ball, able to make assists playing from deep, with an impressive range of passing over long and short distance, an ability that is likely to dovetail nicely with the early runs, smart movement and lightning pace of Memphis Depay.
How United will shape up next season remains to be seen, but United looked best with three across midfield last season and will have plenty of options in that territory when the season starts against Tottenham in August.
The intensity of the physical competition of the Premier League seems to have made an impression on Van Gaal, and he has responded by signing four very capable athletes as well as fine footballers, which should go some distance to banishing some of the feebler away defeats of last season to distant memory.