Man Utd will get ultimate transfer answer on emergency plan vs Leeds

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Manchester United’s board tightened the purse strings in the January market with Wout Weghorst, Jack Butland and Marcel Sabitzer all arriving on loan and tonight’s game against Leeds will be a strong indication on whether they made the right choice. Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive departure during the World Cup, United were being heavily linked with making a big-money move for a replacement in the January transfer window.

Cody Gakpo was being touted as the top target, but Liverpool moved swiftly to beat them to the post. It was soon being reported that United were strapped for cash heading into January and that a like-for-like replacement for Ronaldo would prove difficult.

Erik ten Hag spent close to £250million on new signings last summer and United opted against adding to that outlay in January. Instead, United utilised the loan market to bring in the players they felt Erik ten Hag’s squad needed until the end of the season.

Weghorst and Butland were brought in early in the window to give Ten Hag a third-choice goalkeeper and another option in attack. Christian Eriksen’s injury in the final few days before deadline day then saw United spring into action to quickly snap up Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich.

With loan fees, only Brentford and Everton spent less than United in the January market with teams such as Southampton, Bournemouth and Leeds all making big signings. Time will tell whether United’s January transfer tactic will pay off heading into the business end of the season.

But Ten Hag will need to call upon two of his part-time arrivals for tonight’s match against Leeds following Casemiro’s red card at the weekend. Sabitzer looks set to be handed his first start with Scott McTominay also still carrying a knock.

And Anthony Martial’s injury setback means Weghorst has been needed to start for United on a regular basis. Both players will likely be needed in both games against Leeds this week and United will need to keep the heat on those around them to keep their season goals alive.

They returned to winning ways against Palace at the weekend and Marcus Rashford’s excellent form in front of goal recently has turned Ten Hag’s side into potential title contenders. A win over Leeds tonight could see United move within five points of Arsenal at the top of the table.

But they’ll also have one eye over their shoulders with the race to finish inside the top four still the main aim. Ten Hag will need both Weghorst and Sabitzer to get up to speed quickly with the pair likely to be involved on a regular basis between now and the end of the season.

United’s board indicated that utilising the loan market in January would free up more funds for the summer transfer window. But if neither Sabitzer or Weghorst are able to make an impact in the next few months then questions will be asked on whether it was the right stance to take.

Against Leeds tonight, they’ll get their first chance to see whether it could pay off.

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