Manchester United’s grip on second place in the Premier League loosened following a disappointing draw with Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Although unbeaten in seven league matches, the Red Devils have drawn a blank in back-to-back Premier League outings.
A dismal night at Selhurst Park also means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have failed to find the net in three consecutive games in all competitions.
United looked clueless against Palace, giving away possession cheaply on numerous occasions and struggling to create enough clear-cut chances.
With the title hopes now gone for good, Solskjaer has started piecing together a plan to strengthen his squad in the summer transfer window.
According to the Daily Express, the Norwegian manager has assembled a list of five players he will be looking to bring to Old Trafford at the end of the season.
Solskjaer’s five-man shopping list
Erling Braut Haland
The Borussia Dortmund goal-machine has emerged as United’s number one priority for the upcoming transfer window.
Anthony Martial’s patchy form and Edinson Cavani’s age require the Red Devils to dig dip into their pockets to snap up the highly-rated Norwegian.
Haaland has been a nuisance for the opposition defences since arriving at Signal Iduna Park in January 2020, clocking up 43 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions.
This season alone, the 20-year-old striker has bagged 27 goals in as many matches, including eight in the Champions League.
Sevilla’s Jules Kounde has soaked up the limelight as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet, not afraid to charge forward but also impressive in aerial duels, the young Frenchman is a star in the making.
The 22-year-old’s versatility also allows him to anchor his team’s backline from deep in midfield, which would bring additional value to United.
Another name on Solskjaer’s list is recently-criticised Real Madrid stalwart Raphael Varane.
The Frenchman is understood to be reluctant to pledge his future to Los Blancos, as he seems hell-bent on finding a new challenge away from La Liga.
The 27-year-old has less than two years left on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu and could be available for a reasonable price tag in the summer.
Although United remain dark horses in the race for outgoing Bayern Munich star David Alaba, there is still a glimmer of hope that the club may outfox fierce competition.
The versatile defender has already announced his decision to leave the Allianz Arena after 11 years, with a host of Europe’s big guns showing interest in his services.
Madrid are reportedly front-runners in the race, but the lure of playing at the Theatre of Dreams should never be underestimated.
Last but not least, the Red Devils have set their sights on another Madrid gem, Federico Valverde.
The 22-year-old box-to-box midfield has played a prominent role under Zinedine Zidane, gaining plaudits for his standout performances from all across Europe.
However, it is unlikely that the French manager will authorise the move of one of Madrid’s most highly-rated talents.