Jose Mourinho has no plans to make any major attacking signings this summer, as the Manchester United manager is “really happy” with the wealth of options he currently has in forward areas.
Following his high-profile January transfer from Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez opened his United account in Saturday’s comfortable 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town, tapping a second-half penalty in on the rebound after his initial effort was saved.
The goal capped a lively performance in which Sanchez combined well with his new team-mates, operating from the left-hand side of United’s attack. Mourinho feels the Chilean is also capable of playing on the right, as a No 10 or as cover for Romelu Lukaku in the lone striker role.
If Sanchez and Lukaku are likely to be regular starters, that leaves two positions for Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford to fight over.
There is, also, the forgotten figure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will hope to fully overcome the effects of last year’s serious knee ligament injury before his United contract expires at the season’s end. His days at Old Trafford appear numbered.
Still, even with Ibrahimovic likely to depart in the summer, Mourinho believes his squad has sufficient depth in attack and does not believe the club will need to re-enter the market for forwards this summer.
When asked about the versatility Sanchez offers, Mourinho said: “That’s the point, that’s the objective. The objective is now that we have only one No 9 – apart from Zlatan and let’s forget about Zlatan for the moment – we have only one No 9 and by having one No 9, now we have more No 9s.”
“We have Alexis, Lukaku, Martial, Rashford,” the United manager explained. “Rashford can play on the left and the right, Alexis is exactly the same. All of them apart from Lukaku can play from behind as the second striker.
“That’s why I say that it’s bad for you because you like to have things to write and speculate, especially in the summer, but I don’t want attacking players so don’t speak about attacking players that are coming here because nobody is coming here.”
United were widely expected to sign Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann last year until the Spanish club was placed under a transfer embargo and the 26-year-old elected to stay.
Judging by Mourinho’s words after the victory over Huddersfield, United’s interest in the Griezmann will not be revived when Atletico’s ban on signing players is lifted this summer.
“We have Mata, Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Alexis, I don’t want attacking players,” he insisted. “Speculation in the summer you have to go to other areas, attacking players I am really happy.
“We have to improve not in the quality of the players. We have to improve in the dynamic in the team, and in the efficiency because even today it is a game to score more than two.”
Mourinho’s team selection for Huddersfield’s visit caught the eye, with four players dropped from the midweek defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. The most surprising demotion was that of £90m midfielder Paul Pogba, who was replaced by recent academy graduate Scott McTominay.
The decision followed a heated touchline exchange between Mourinho and Pogba during Wednesday’s defeat at Wembley, though the United manager denied that he had named the 24-year-old among the substitutes as a punishment.
Pogba was eventually introduced as a 65th minute substitute and, when asked how the midfielder had reacted to being dropped, Mourinho hailed the player’s response as “very professional”.
“[He gave] the reaction you saw,” Mourinho said. “Coming to the pitch with great desire to play.
“At half time he was already – because I can analyse body language – he was already at half time showing he was ready. Ready with physio, he was already starting his warming up, he showed the way he took it in a very professional way.”