Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Christian Pulisic and the six wingers Man Utd could sign to upgrade on Jadon Sancho

Comments (0)
The ex-Borussia Dortmund star has disappointed at Old Trafford, and there are several players on the market who may be a better fit for the Red Devils

Manchester United have boasted some of the greatest wingers of all time in their ranks down the years, from George Best to Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo.

In their prime, they were players capable of mind-boggling moments of individual brilliance that could decide matches - risk-takers and mavericks with a winning mentality that just cannot be taught, and supporters idolised them for it.

United paid £73 million ($101m) to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund because they believed he was cut from the same cloth. He certainly looked special in Germany, after taking the brave decision to turn down a first professional contract at Manchester City to join BVB at the tender of age of 17 back in 2017.

🏆 TOP STORY: Arteta gives worrying Saliba injury update

📣 HAVE YOUR SAY: Can Haaland beat Ronaldo's UCL goal record?

🚨 MUST READ: The most boring UCL knockouts ever?!

Sancho racked up an impressive haul of 50 goals and 64 assists in a Dortmund shirt, but his fearlessness and intelligence on the ball made him stand out the most. Personality can often be the difference between good and great players, and he had it in spades.

For whatever reason, though, that version of Sancho has yet to appear at Old Trafford.

As we edge towards the end of his second season at United, he has just 10 goals to his name from 68 appearances, and Erik ten Hag is reportedly growing impatient with his lack of progress.

Sancho fought his way back into the squad after being exiled entirely by the Dutchman due to "physical and mental" issues, but he hasn't made the most of his clean slate it now feels as though he will never fulfil his potential in Manchester.

A summer transfer might be in the best interests of all parties concerned, especially given the possible replacements thought to be on United's radar.

Sancho probably isn't going to enter the club's Hall of Fame, but there are others that could, starting with a certain Portugal international making a huge impact at Milan...

  1. Rafael Leao
    Getty Images

    Rafael Leao

    With 42 minutes on the clock in the second leg of Milan's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Napoli, Leao picked up possession deep in his own half as Stefano Pioli's side were granted a reprieve following wave after wave of attacks.

    The 23-year-old proceeded to race down the left flank, showing superb dribbling skills to elude three defenders along the way, and eventually found himself in the opposition box.

    Leao capped it all off by showing superb awareness to cut the ball back for Olivier Giroud, who made no mistake with a simple finish from just outside the six-yard box. Milan went on to win the tie 2-1 on aggregate, progressing to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2007.

    The Rossoneri needed a moment of magic to get over the line, and Leao provided it. However, it wouldn't have come as much of a surprise to the visiting fans at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, given the fact he's been producing that kind of brilliance on a regular basis for the last four years.

    Leao was the driving force behind Milan's 2021-22 Scudetto success and he's now pushing them towards an eighth European Cup, which is why just about every top club on the continent is interested in his services.

    United, Arsenal and Chelsea are reportedly among those weighing up a summer move for Leao, whose contract at San Siro is due to expire in 2024. Talks over a possible extension have yet to progress, as he admitted after the quarter-final.

    "I want to stay here at Milan, yes — but there are some things to resolve," he told Sky Sport Italia.

    At the moment, Leao looks like the kind of superstar United had hoped Sancho would become, and they could snap him up for a cut-price fee if they act quickly when the market reopens.

  2. Christian Pulisic
    Getty Images

    Christian Pulisic

    Next up is a man who played alongside Sancho at Dortmund in the early stages of his own career - the talisman of the United States men's national team and one of the most talented players in the current Chelsea squad: Christian Pulisic.

    Unfortunately, he has only shown off said talent sporadically over the last three years at Stamford Bridge.

    Pulisic in full flow is difficult for any defender to stop, and his highlight reel for the Blues makes for an excellent watch. He's scored 26 goals for the club to date, and more than a few fall into the category of spectacular.

    Arguably his best effort came in a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in June 2020, as he ran from inside his own half and ghosted past Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy before placing a beautiful finish past Ederson.

    The USMNT star has that in his locker, and has been pretty consistent for his country at international level, but he's always been in and out of the starting line up at Chelsea.

    Niggling injuries have played their part, while Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter all struggled to find his best position, and it has been reported that the Blues could cut their losses on the 24-year-old later this year.

    Old Trafford has been mooted as a potential next destination for Pulisic, who still has the prime years of his career ahead of him.

    Ten Hag has brought the best out of previously inconsistent figures such as Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw this season, and the American might enjoy a similar resurgence if he were to join United's ranks - though it remains to be seen whether Chelsea would sell him to a direct rival.

  3. Ansu Fati
    (C)Getty images

    Ansu Fati

    Lionel Messi's surprise departure from Camp Nou in 2021 sent shockwaves through the entire footballing world, and Barcelona are still trying to recover to this day.

    The Liga giants lost their captain - who is the greatest player to ever kick a ball in the eyes of many - amid an unprecedented financial crisis, and supporters lost a hero they had worshipped for nigh on two decades as the trophies rolled in.

    Ansu Fati was the man given the honour of inheriting Messi's sacred No.10 shirt, which felt like a logical move at the time given his bright start to life in Barca's senior squad.

    In his first season after graduating from the academy, the Spaniard became Barca's youngest-ever league goalscorer, the youngest-ever Champions League goalscorer and the youngest player in La Liga history to score twice in a match.

    There was a risk attached to the club's decision, though, given Fati's progress had stalled due to a serious knee injury that kept him out of action for nine months.

    A hamstring issue then held him back throughout the 2021-22 season, and he has been unable to force his way into Xavi's starting XI since, much to the frustration of his father.

    Bori Fati, who also serves as his son's agent, hit out at the club over their treatment of Ansu in an extraordinary rant last month, and also suggested that he should seek a transfer.

    Fati appears to have finally put his fitness troubles behind him, but only 13 of his 42 appearances for the Blaugrana this season have come as a starter, and he hasn't taken to a new central striker role under Xavi.

    It has been reported that Fati is one of several first-team players Barca will look to offload this summer in order to further reduce their wage bill (and potentially re-sign Messi), and United are said to be considering a swoop.

    A move to Old Trafford might give the 20-year-old the opportunity to return to his favoured position on the left wing - which is where he still has the capacity to become one of the top players of his generation.

  4. Kaoru Mitoma
    (C)Getty Images

    Kaoru Mitoma

    Circling back to the Premier League, we come to Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma, who has emerged as a top prospect in his debut campaign at the Amex Stadium.

    Mitoma spent a year on loan at Royale Union Saint-Gilloise after his initial move to Brighton, which turned out to be the right call for his development.

    Graham Potter used the Japan international primarily off the bench at the start of the season, but after the manager's departure to Chelsea, Mitoma was given the chance to truly shine.

    Potter's replacement, Roberto De Zerbi, saw something in Mitoma right from the off and threw him straight into his line up on the left flank, with fantastic results.

    The 25-year-old has been one of the standout players in a Brighton side making an unlikely push for Champions League football, alongside the likes of Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo, earning plenty of admirers in the process.

    Mitoma thrives in one-on-one situations, as evidenced by his position in the top 10 for successful dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season.

    Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold has been among those to be caught in a spin trying to contain Mitoma, who has the end product to match his electrifying ability on the ball.

    Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle have all been linked with Mitoma in recent months, along with United, who might just have the edge in any transfer race.

    After signing for Brighton in 2021, Mitoma revealed his desire to follow in the footsteps of one of Japan's most successful footballing exports, Shinji Kagawa, who played for United between 2012 and 2014.

    "Kagawa being a part of Manchester United was a big thing in Japan," he told Brighton's official website. "I hope to have as much success as my fellow Japanese predecessors in the Premier League."

    Kagawa became a Premier League winner at United, but Mitoma could win multiple pieces of silverware if he joins Ten Hag's ever-improving squad, and would be a shrewd addition given the lasting impression he has made on English football in such a short period.

  5. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
    Getty Images

    Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

    Not too much was known about Khvicha Kvaratskhelia when he arrived at Napoli from Georgian outfit Dinamo Batumi for a modest €12 million fee last summer.

    But to the majority of outsiders looking in, he was seen as a feeble replacement for club legend Lorenzo Insigne, who took the decision to take on a new challenge in MLS with Toronto FC after 12 years in Naples.

    The doubters were quickly silenced, though, and in emphatic fashion - as Kvaratskhelia inspired Napoli's early season surge to the top of the Serie A table.

    The club's scouts certainly knew what they were doing. Kvaratskhelia has been an instant hit with the Diego Armando Maradona faithful due to his irresistible skill and the constant threat he carries in the final third.

    He became the first man to ever reach 10 goals and 10 assists in a debut Serie A campaign by March, and also shone during Napoli's run to the quarter-finals in the Champions League.

    There is no other player quite like Kvaratskhelia in the modern game. He's unorthodox and his dribbling style looks awkward at times, but it's supremely effective.

    The Georgia international keeps a low centre of gravity that allows him to change direction in the blink of an eye, and he is a master at running with the ball close to his feet, which has inevitably led to comparisons with Messi.

    Kvaratskhelia is carving out his own distinctive legacy, though, and looks like exactly the sort of performer that could get the Old Trafford crowd off its feet week in, week out.

    United are thought to be interested in both Kvaratskhelia and his Napoli team-mate Victor Osimhen, but if its a choice between one or the other, then the man fondly dubbed 'Kvaradona' by supporters should get the nod.

    Kvaratskhelia is the kind of talent that doesn't come along very often, and he'd be a great fit for Ten Hag's high-tempo, attack-minded style of play.

  6. Neymar
    (C)Getty Images


    One outside option for United in their potential search to fill a Sancho-shaped void is Paris Saint-Germain's enigmatic former poster boy Neymar.

    He was the main man at Parc des Princes after joining the Ligue 1 giants from Barcelona for a club record deal in 2017, but it didn't take long for Kylian Mbappe to surpass him.

    Neymar earned a standing among the world's elite players during his four-year stint at Camp Nou, but has allowed his standards to slip at PSG.

    His flamboyant lifestyle away from the pitch has alienated fans, who have also questioned his commitment to the collective cause, while a constant stream of injuries has restricted his minutes on the pitch.

    Club officials have also reportedly grown tired of Neymar's antics. So much so that they are said to be ready to put him up for sale as soon as the transfer window reopens.

    Neymar was involved in an altercation with Luis Campos after a 3-1 loss to Monaco in February, and PSG's sporting director is now reportedly pushing for him to leave the club.

    United and Chelsea have emerged as potential suitors for the Brazilian, who has expressed his desire to remain in Paris until at least the end of his contract in 2025, but no longer holds any bargaining power when it comes to his future.

    PSG have given up on Neymar, and it would make little sense for him to stay in an environment where he is clearly not wanted. So why not try his hand in the Premier League?

    Casemiro, Antony and Fred are already on Ten Hag's books at Old Trafford, and a reunion with his international team-mates might hold some appeal for Neymar. Their presence would certainly help him to adapt quickly.

    Any move for Neymar would be a big gamble, as he is currently sidelined with an ankle ligament injury and is not expected to play again this season. Not only would there be doubts over him passing a medical, but there is also no guarantee that his body won't continue to break down.

    However, there are few possible signings for any club more exciting than Neymar, who is still capable of match-winning moments of magic when he is fully fit and firing.

    Like all of the other men on this list, he could offer more than Sancho, whose United career appears to be unsalvageable at this point.

    The Red Devils need a new hero - one that can handle the pressure of delivering for a club that doesn't accept mediocrity.