The draw for the group stage of Europe’s elite competition will take place at the end of this month with English teams dreaming of making it all the way to the final in Istanbul
Paul Merson has named Manchester United among the teams he believe could be in contention to win the Champions League this season.
United have not won Europe’s elite prize since 2008, and were disappointingly knocked out at the group stage last season after finishing behind PSG and RB Leipzig.
But writing in a column for Sportskeeda, Merson stated his belief that United’s tactics could be more suitable for glory in continental competition than in the Premier League.
“I’ve gone for Manchester United as one of the top five contenders for the Champions League this season and I’ll explain why,” he said.
“I know they were knocked out in the group stages last season, but the way they play suits Champions League football more than the Premier League.
“They counterattack as well as anyone in Europe and have a squad that has match-winners across the pitch with the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
“Sancho adds a bit more guile to the team, while Varane is an experienced defender who will not only allow them to play a higher line but also complement Harry Maguire perfectly.
“Manchester United are the biggest club in world football in my opinion, so I’m not going to call them dark-horses.
“They’ve gone almost eight years without winning the Premier League or the Champions League and that could so easily become 15 or 20 if they don’t take the initiative.
“They look like a strong team and it goes without saying that each one of their forwards, barring Edinson Cavani, are incredibly quick!
“I don’t know if Manchester United will win the Premier League title, but when you look at the way they play, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the UEFA Champions League.”
Meanwhile on City, who are still yet to ever win the Champions League Merson said: “They will always be in the running and have a strong squad that is capable of competing on all fronts.
“The next two or three weeks in the transfer market will be interesting, only time will tell if they manage to add a striker to their star-studded squad.”
And on the holders Chelsea, Merson added: “It’s hard to win the UEFA Champions League once, let alone in successive seasons. Some of the strongest teams in history have failed to win the competition back-to-back, but Chelsea will be in the reckoning, in my opinion.”