Roy Keane feels Manchester United will continue to be restricted with their team selection in big matches so long as they stick with the same centre-back pairing.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have faced frequent criticism over recent seasons, including from Keane, who previously suggested Eric Bailly would be a more ideal partner for United’s captain.
But the current pairing seem to have improved over the back half of this campaign, with United chasing silverware in Europe and close to cementing second place in the Premier League.
However, Keane feels United’s problems against better opposition will be ongoing until a better replacement is recruited, to enable Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to give the rest of his side more freedom.
“They do need another centre-half, with a bit more pace,” Keane told Sky Sports. “That’s the problem for United as they will want to be able to push higher up the pitch.
“They’re constantly worried in the big games using two sitting midfielders and that’s because they’re worried about the two centre-halves – more with their pace than anything else.
“They’re good solid defenders, particularly [Harry] Maguire, but when you talk about the really big games, it’s a problem for Manchester United. They will have to get somebody, of course.”
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Several defenders have been linked with a move to Old Trafford, including Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, though United appear to be focusing their efforts on other areas of the team.
Bailly is currently in talks over a long-term contract extension, while Solskjaer seems prepared to back Maguire and Lindelof for at least another season.
Signing a right winger and a striker are still thought to be priorities for United this summer, particularly with Edinson Cavani potentially moving on.
United are trying desperately to keep the 34-year-old, but Keane feels they should let him go and set their sights on two blockbuster targets to stand a chance of winning the title next season.
“I still think they need two or three players before challenging Man City. They are short. They still need a world-class striker and another midfielder and a centre-half,” Keane said.
“I would prioritise a striker and midfielder. I would love to see Harry Kane up front —whatever it costs. And I would also go for Jack Grealish.
“I think United are still short of special players and Grealish would give them that. I think he’d enjoy playing at Old Trafford and the fans would love him.
“He has great courage on a football pitch; he always wants the ball in tight areas. His end product has improved and I think Jack would be ready for Man United.
“Having Kane here with him would guarantee goals.”