Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s five next steps after signing new Man Utd contract

The ever-popular Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to stay at Manchester United until 2024 at the earliest after putting pen to paper on a new three year deal.

The 48-year-old, who first took the reigns at Old Trafford in 2018, has signed a lucrative contract which will see him bank around £25m.

And it is a major show of faith in the Norwegian from the club’s owners, who clearly feel he is the right man to take them forward despite his lack of silverware so far.

Now that his long-term future is sealed, Solskjaer will no doubt turn his attentions towards preparing for the upcoming season.

And here are the five most pressing matters which are likely to be on his to-do list…

1. Complete Varane signing

Manchester United are still yet to reach an agreement with Real Madrid over Raphael Varane

Now that United have sealed the long-awaited signing of Jadon Sancho, all eyes will turn towards whether they can strengthen the centre-back position with the arrival of Raphael Varane.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid star is known to be keen on a switch to the Premier League, but the two clubs are in a transfer stand-off, and are yet to agree on a fee for the French international.

Varane’s qualities go without saying, and many believe he would be an even more important addition than that of Sancho.

You only need to look to Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool and Ruben Dias at Manchester City to see the transformation a genuinely world-class centre-back can make to a team.

And if United can get the Varane deal over the line, many may start talking about them as proper contenders for the title in the upcoming season.

2. Make big midfield decisions

The midfield area is one in which there are still plenty of questions to be answered.

With Paul Pogba’s future up in the air (more of which later), it is not clear who will be Solskjaer’s two first-choice sitters in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are all reliable but have their faults.

And whether or not Donny van de Beek has a part to play remains to be seen following the Dutchman’s hugely disappointing 2020-21 campaign following his arrival from Ajax last summer.

Plenty for Solskjaer to ponder, then…

3 Sort out Pogba’s future

Paul Pogba's future is still very much up in the air
Paul Pogba’s future is still very much up in the air

And on that note, the circus surrounding Pogba’s future is one which Solskjaer will no doubt be determined to nip in the bud once and for all.

After starring at Euro 2020 with France, the rumours have started up once again suggesting the 28-year-old could depart United this summer, with PSG appearing the most likely destination at the moment.

With his contract set to expire at the end of next season, this could be United’s last chance to recoup some of the £89m they splashed out on Pogba in 2016.

But perhaps even more importantly than that, many around the club will simply be desperate to end the tiresome never-ending speculation and disruption which constantly surrounds the player one way or another.

It is time to make a decision.

4. Integrate Sancho into the team

Huge things will be expected of Sancho after he completed his long-awaited £72.9m move from Dortmund on Friday.

And the 21-year-old should have no issues settling in given his good relationship with the likes of Marcus Rashford and his past experience of living in Manchester.

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However, Solskjaer will be desperate to ensure the player does not flatter to deceive in a similar manner to that of Van de Beek, and will look to do everything he can do to give Sancho the best possible chance to hit the ground running.

It will be intriguing to see how he is integrated into the team, and whether he is included in the starting XI immediately or whether he will be gradually introduced from the bench.

Although he is currently still resting from his Euros exploits, Sancho could be in line to make his debut in a friendly against Everton on August 7 – a week before United’s opening Premier League game of the season versus Leeds.

5. Solve Rashford’s surgery dilemma

A decision needs to be made over whether or not Marcus Rashford will have surgery
A decision needs to be made over whether or not Marcus Rashford will have surgery

Marcus Rashford is still debating whether or not to have surgery on a troublesome shoulder before the big kick-off on August 14.

The England star played through the pain barrier at Euro 2020, and was thought to have decided to undergo a procedure which would keep him out for 12 weeks.

However, Solskjaer cast doubt on that by saying earlier this week: “We’re looking at the best option, he went away just to reflect on it a little bit and we have to take the best course of action for him and the club. We’re still addressing that with the experts.”

There are clearly a number of factors to take into consideration, but if Rashford is to have the surgery it would surely be better to do so sooner rather than later.

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