Manchester United intend to be busy in the transfer market ahead of the 2022/23 WSL season, with the club prioritising a number of key positions in an attempt to specifically build squad depth.
United, who remain determined to qualify for the Champions League for the first time, have seen the current squad stretched thin at various moments during the current campaign.
Centre-back has been a major concern since the turn of the calendar year, with midfielders Hayley Ladd and Katie Zelem both forced to fill in at one or another in recent games because of absences.
Other areas of the pitch have also suffered with a lack of depth and cover. Despite positive January additions of Diane Caldwell, Jade Moore and Signe Bruun, the latter on loan, all three have suffered injury trouble and been forced to miss games since their respective arrivals.
Centre-back, central midfield, ‘number 10’, wide forward and striker are the main positions on the club’s transfer radar this summer. The recruitment process has already begun and the club has made progress with a number of targets, which is marked change from last summer when the lack of manager until late July appeared to delay the arrival of new signings.
Absolutely critical for manager Marc Skinner is that any players who do come are the ‘right’ ones. But the club is already being aggressive behind the scenes in terms on recruitment in search of the depth that will allow the squad to be competitive in multiple competitions next season and beyond.
“With our centre halves where they are, obviously Aoife having an ACL injury, we’d look at maybe recruiting in that area,” Skinner explained ahead of facing Brighton in the WSL on Sunday.
“I think I want to continue to progress our ‘number 10s’ and midfield areas if the right people come up. We need more depth in the wide forward and centre-forward areas, so there’s a lot of business I want to do in the summer,” he added.
“I’m working hard now to try and make that it easier come the summer. If the right people come up that we’ve already identified, this club is one that will allow us to go and make acquisitions.”
Generally, United don’t wish to solely focus on summer transfer windows because the winter window usually also provides opportunities because of different calendars in the United States and Scandinavia – both Caldwell and Moore were recruited in January after leaving American teams.
Another facet of recruitment is targeting players who are adaptable and flexible. Skinner has made plain on a number of occasions that he wants his players not to be tied down to a single position, something he saw up close while working stateside in the NWSL.
“I can’t have single position players because if you want a rotational system you’ve got to have players that are able to take the label off,” he explained.
“You just have to know what you’re doing when you’re in [particular] areas of the field. I’d rather work more on that than what is solely needed for a position. It’s so important going forward that our players are open and adaptive to playing different positions.”