Manchester United are still in pursuit for players this summer, but their pre-season friendlies have given a small indication into how the side will likely line up for the 2016/17 season under new manager Jose Mourinho.
There are a lot of talented players likely to be in and out of the side over the course of the season, but here’s a starting eleven that could be most-used by Mourinho.
Man Utd’s predicted starting XI
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
Manchester United’s Player of the Year for the last three seasons, goalkeeper David De Gea will be one of the first names on the teamsheet. Arguably the best shot-stopper in the Premier League, Mourinho has one of the best in the world between the sticks.
Right-Back – Matteo Darmian
The Italian defender is likely to start ahead of Antonio Valencia at right-back. Combative and an excellent reader of the game, Darmian isn’t likely to be marauding up and down the pitch, but he will provide defensive stability to allow more freedom to the wingers ahead of him.
Centre-Back – Chris Smalling
Manchester United’s best defender by some distance, Smalling has come on leaps and bounds in recent seasons and will start at the heart of the backline under Mourinho. Athletic and a fantastic reader of the game, Mourinho’s organisation could see Smalling outperform the Premier League’s centre-backs in 2016/17.
Centre-Back – Eric Bailly
United new-boy Bailly will provide more pace and physicality to the defence. He’s also comfortable in possession and has many years ahead of him to continue developing. Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo will challenge for a spot, but Bailly has enough experienced to be a regular from the off.
Left-Back – Luke Shaw
Back from his injury, left-back Luke Shaw is nailed on to be United’s first-choice. He’s pacey, loves attacking and is proficient in the final third. If he can get a full season under his belt Shaw should create a lot of chances for the forwards.
Defensive-Midfield – Paul Pogba?
Yet to sign for Manchester United, but the French international is expected to return to Old Trafford this summer. Pogba has the capacity to dominate the middle of the park. He’s physically superior than his opponents, and will rack up the goals and assists in the league. A key player if United sign him.
Defensive-Midfield – Morgan Schneiderlin
The ball-winner of the side, Morgan Schneiderlin didn’t enjoy the best debut season with United, but could be reintroduced to the starting eleven. Mourinho loves deep-lying players who win back the ball, which could see Schneiderlin given a chance to prove his worth.
Right-Wing – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
New-boy Mkhitaryan will likely operate on the right, given license to cut inside on his stronger left foot. He’s more likely to create chances than score them, but will be key to setting up opportunities for the forwards. He’s looked good in pre-season.
Attacking-Midfield – Wayne Rooney
Mourinho suggested Rooney would play as a number 10 this season, and given the superior options in attack, it seems likely that the long-serving United man will operate in arguably his best role to score and create goals.
Left-Wing – Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay struggled in his debut season at the club, but is likely to be given a chance to prove himself on the left-flank. Depay likes to cut inside to get among the goals, and Mourinho may well see if the Dutchman can live up to his billing.
Striker – Anthony Martial
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic will likely play a number of games at centre-forward, Anthony Martial should be the first-choice in attack. The Frenchman possesses everything Mourinho loves in a striker with his excessive pace and clever off-the-ball movement so it’s unlikely Ibrahimovic will start ahead of Martial in attack for long.
Manchester United are 18/5 to win the Premier League title this season. Could this lineup go all the way in 2016/17?