Manchester United had a frustrating 2017-18 campaign as we ended the season trophy-less having lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea at Wembley.
We also finished 19 points adrift of champions Manchester City in the Premier League and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Sevilla at the last-16 stage, while lower-league club Bristol City beat us in the Carabao Cup.
So it was a disappointing domestic campaign for the United players but many of them are heading off to Russia to play for their countries. Here are five players who could make an impact at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
#5 Jesse Lingard
Lingard has developed in to one of our most important players as he’s developed well under Jose Mourinho and played a key role for United last season. The attacker showed his creativity and fluidity in the final third, scoring 14 goals with seven assists across all competitions.
The English national team will be hoping Lingard will take his United form to Russia and become an indispensable member of the squad in the bid to win England’s second World Cup. With Lingard’s ability to operate from both the wing or as an advanced attacker in the middle of the park, it will be interesting to see how England manager Gareth Southgate uses the 25-year-old this summer.
#4 Paul Pogba
Pogba had a tough season in Manchester as he often received criticism from Mourinho after a string of disappointing performances in the second half of the campaign. The French star showed glimpses of his undeniable ability but too often went missing from games and was even dropped at times last season. However, he still managed to score six times with 12 assists in all competitions including two spectacular goals in a comeback triumph against Manchester City in April.
France are among the favourites to win the World Cup, so manager Didier Deschamps will want Pogba to take more responsibility and showcase his talent in the midfield. Pogo has the ability, so let’s hope he can prove himself on the world’s biggest stage in Russia.
#3 Nemanja Matic
It’s not easy to win praise from José Mourinho, but 29-year-old Matic is one of the bosses favourite players and was one of our most consistent performers last season. The former Chelsea midfielder is one of the hardworking players in the squad and while the likes of Pogba were struggling, Matic brought stability to the United side.
Though Serbia are not among the favourites to win the World Cup, Matic’s inspirational performance may lift the Serbs to produce some upsets of the tournament.
#2 Romelu Lukaku
Criticised for his technical flaws, Romelu Lukaku still enjoyed a positive campaign last season after providing 27 goals and 9 assists for United last year. His ruthless play against Brighton, his superb delivery for the winner against Chelsea at Old Trafford or his combination with Jesse Lingard in United’s 3-1 victory proved his improvements since joining United in 2017.
Lukaku is now Belgium’s first choice striker so they’ll be relieved that he’ll be heading to Russia fully fit having recovered from a recent injury. Belgium have talent throughout the squad so with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard supplying Lukaku, the 25-year-old will have plenty of opportunities to score at the World Cup. The United forward has scored ten goals in his last six internationals, so manager Roberto Martínez will be praying he continues that kind of form in Russia.
#1 David de Gea
If there was one player who almost single-handedly ensured United’s season was just disappointing rather than a disaster, it was David de Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper was once again named our Player of the Year for a record fourth time. Thanks to de Gea’s exceptional ability between the sticks, he had made some unbelievable saves for United last year to keep 23 clean sheets in all competitions.
The Premier League Golden Glove winner has become one of the most influential figures for the national team and has taken over the mantle from Spanish legend Iker Casillas. With Spain looking to replicate their 2010 World Cup victory, the 27-year-old will be a key player for sure.