Manchester United have been negligent in the transfer market and rival clubs will relax knowing they will now rush to pay high prices, according to Gary Neville.

Former United captain Neville was dismayed by United's performance as they lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace in their Premier League season opener on Saturday.

Donny van de Beek – the club's only signing in the transfer window – got the only goal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Neville cannot believe the Netherlands international is the only recruit at this stage of the window, which closes on October 5, given plans could have been in place from March when lockdown began.

Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho has repeatedly been linked with a big-money move, as have defensive reinforcements.

Neville told Sky Sports: "You see Liverpool getting a player for £40million, £25million. [Timo] Werner [at Chelsea] is quite cheap compared to some of the prices of players you see in the market.

"United always seem to have to pay top dollar, almost as though they are easy pickings. The problem is, they have to find a way to get deals done and they can't get deals done efficiently.

"And it is negligence not to get the squad in place, they have had six months since March when lockdown was on being able to deliberate, do zoom calls, connect with agents, move things into place.

"There is no excuse really for not getting your transfers done before the start of the season. They need four or five players, so to only get one done… 

"United have got to see the danger signs here - they could end up in fourth or fifth again if they are not careful and last season was a step forward.

"That should have been the moment, COVID coming, economic uncertainty, United step up and drive the market forward, get the squad in place and send a message to Man City and Liverpool that we are coming for you.

"Now they are on the back foot and they have to do their business in the next couple of weeks."

Neville added: "United have got the money - if they can spend £90million-£100million on Sancho, they have got the money to do the deals. 

"They have not got the quality or experience of football people within that club, it looks like a convoluted and complex structure, I'm not quite sure where the decisions lie.

"Other [top clubs] are definite, they are precise. You sense they are in control.

"Then you end up with that on Saturday and what that does is make [United] weaker, because now clubs who they are wanting players off will be looking it and thinking, 'We will relax because they are going to come and knock on my door, they are going to have to.'

"The people in the stands whose job is to put that team on the pitch have been there for eight years now and they have not had the ability to build a football team that can win the league. 

"They have to find a way of doing it quickly as these years are going to drag on."

Gary Neville has warned Manchester United they need a new centre-back more than they need Jadon Sancho after a horror show in their opening Premier League game.

The former United captain said the current side stand no chance of winning the Premier League with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof at the heart of their defence.

His brutal verdict was delivered as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday.

After finishing third in the Premier League last season following a 14-match unbeaten run in the competition, United began 2020-21 with high hopes of another lofty finish.

They want to bring Borussia Dortmund's exciting England winger Sancho to the club, but Neville says their priority should lie elsewhere.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: "You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like, but until they get a centre-back in that can run and defend one on one, you're never going to win the league.

"They're not going to win the league with that centre-back pairing. They have to get a mobile, quick, dominant centre-back in alongside Lindelof or Maguire."

United were back on domestic duty five weeks after their 2019-20 Europa League trophy hopes were ended by a semi-final defeat to Sevilla.

Neville said United looked "knackered", "so leggy it's untrue" and "well short of Crystal Palace" in the fitness stakes.

Lindelof, the Sweden defender who is in his fourth season at United, was picked apart by Neville for his part in allowing Wilfried Zaha to scythe through and score his second goal and Palace's third.

"He's just not strong enough there, Lindelof," said Neville. "It's a 50-50; he's weak."

Neville questioned what United's response would be to their slow start, in light of many of their rivals making statement signings.

"The usual thing for Manchester United, on the back of something like this, is to react - go and sign a player or two to quell the Twitter and social media voice that will absolutely simmer and boil," Neville said.

"It's been simmering all week I think, particularly with Liverpool doing business today, Chelsea's done it in the last few weeks, [Gareth] Bale's going to Tottenham.

"Why are Manchester United not signing the players they need to bolster this squad - a talented squad?"

David de Gea got the nod over Dean Henderson for Manchester United's Premier League opener against Crystal Palace as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backed his regular number one goalkeeper.

The battle to start in goal for United intensified when Henderson returned from a successful loan spell at Sheffield United.

His form for the Blades earned Henderson an England call-up and cast doubt on whether De Gea, after a number of costly errors, should remain as Solskjaer's first choice this season.

The 29-year-old De Gea, who joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011, has been given the chance to show he deserves to keep the starting role.

United's paucity of close-season signings was reflected in their starting XI for the clash with Roy Hodgson's Palace.

There were no new faces in the home XI, although midfielder recruit Donny van de Beek was a substitute after his arrival from Ajax.

Mason Greenwood was also a substitute, with Daniel James surprisingly chosen ahead of the 18-year-old England international, whose off-field behaviour has faced scrutiny in the past fortnight.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka began on the bench too, last season's regular right-back lacking in match fitness as his slot went to Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial started, while Harry Maguire captained the Red Devils, keeping the role despite his arrest and court case in Greece during the between-season break.

Wilfried Zaha was selected as captain for Palace against his former club.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded the transfer window has not gone according to plan, but the Premier League giants are still hopeful of adding to their squad.

Despite the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, there is growing frustration among United supporters as they struggle to sign new players before the transfer window closes next month.

United continue to be linked with Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho but both clubs remain apart on the €120million (£108m) asking price amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While United try to bolster their team after finishing third to qualify for the Champions League last season, Premier League holders Liverpool, rivals Chelsea and neighbours Manchester City have been active in the market.

United had been linked to Real Madrid full-back Sergio Reguilon but he is set for Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, while Thiago Alcantara joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich following talks among his agent and the Red Devils.

Explaining United's transfer efforts ahead of Saturday's opener at home to Crystal Palace, Solskjaer told reporters: "We're looking at a small pool of players who can add to the quality of our team and let's see what we can do. The club's working hard and I understand that they're working hard.

"When we sit down and we discuss, sometimes it doesn't happen as planned. Life isn't a straight line here, sometimes things happen and I've always said it - I'm very happy to work with these players.

"There's still a few weeks left of the transfer window, it might happen that we get someone in. I've worked with the club and they know what I feel the team and the squad needs and let's see if we can add to what we have."

Solskjaer added: "I want players in the building that we want to work with and who wants to be a part of it and who wants to be here.

"You need the quality on the pitch, you also need the personal qualities but you must also really want to be here and you need to show that you want to be here - that's really important for us as a group that we move forward.

It's not as big a pool as for other clubs because being part of Manchester United and being good enough for Manchester United is one thing, but then you've got another club who probably they want to keep that type of player who has that quality.

"Of course, you see other clubs and what they do, they put a challenge up for us and our response has to be results, that's the response. We can be best at the things that don't cost anything - the culture here, the training, the coaching, getting fitter."

"You can't ignore the impact of coronavirus," Solskjaer continued. "I think that's really changed the market and it happened more or less in that period when maybe negotiations would happen. Of course, the financial uncertainty of that has added on the difficulty of predicting where we're at.

"You want always to have as long as possible with players. I think last season though shows that good players can adapt and grow into a group very quickly. Harry (Maguire) came in very late in the transfer window and he had a great impact on the performances in the team."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United are still looking to bring new players in as transfer talk swirls around Old Trafford.

United have been heavily linked with a mega money move for Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho.

Reports this week suggest United are ready to test the resolve of the Bundesliga club once more, with Dortmund having remained unmoved on a €120million (£108m) asking price.

"You know I can't say anything about other club's players out of respect for them. I can't speculate," Solskjaer told a news conference ahead of United's first game of their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"We understand that to get even further, one, we need to develop what we have, two, we're also looking to strengthen the team. Let's just wait and see if we manage to bring anyone in.

"I've been in dialogue with the club. We're always discussing and hopefully, let's see if we can bring anyone in."

A report by ESPN published on Friday claimed United are frustrated by the negativity that the "social media frenzy" around their transfer activity is causing.

"Fans will always want the best possible team to watch, the best possible Man United team, and that's the passion we want and the history we have," Solskjaer said.

"We can look back 10 or 20 years and you look back at the great players we have and, for me, going forward, since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left we've been averaging fifth.

"Last season we got third, which was a big step forward. Everyone saw development - Bruno [Fernandes] coming in, Harry [Maguire] being captain and showing leadership skills, Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] did well.

"We want to take a step forward and we can go into the new season with confidence, but we're looking to give the group a boot and we're working on it."

One player Solskjaer has managed to get in the building is Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek, a £35.7m signing from Ajax

"He's a smashing boy, great personality, coming in with loads of energy and a big smile every day," he added.

"He played well against Aston Villa [a 1-0 friendly defeat last Saturday], so you're likely to see him [against Palace].

"But, of course, I'm not going to name the team here. 'll have to do that to the boys after training."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United are still looking to bring new players in as transfer talk swirls around Old Trafford.

United have been heavily linked with a mega money move for Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho.

Reports this week suggest United are ready to test the resolve of the Bundesliga club once more, with Dortmund having remained unmoved on a €120million (£108m) asking price.

"You know I can't say anything about other club's players out of respect for them. I can't speculate," Solskjaer told a news conference ahead of United's first game of their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"We understand that to get even further, one, we need to develop what we have, two, we're also looking to strengthen the team. Let's just wait and see if we manage to bring anyone in.

"I've been in dialogue with the club. We're always discussing and hopefully, let's see if we can bring anyone in."

A report by ESPN published on Friday claimed United are frustrated by the negativity that the "social media frenzy" around their transfer activity is causing.

"Fans will always want the best possible team to watch, the best possible Man United team, and that's the passion we want and the history we have," Solskjaer said.

"We can look back 10 or 20 years and you look back at the great players we have and, for me, going forward, since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left we've been averaging fifth.

"Last season we got third, which was a big step forward. Everyone saw development - Bruno [Fernandes] coming in, Harry [Maguire] being captain and showing leadership skills, Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] did well.

"We want to take a step forward and we can go into the new season with confidence, but we're looking to give the group a boot and we're working on it."

One player Solskjaer has managed to get in the building is Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek, a £35.7m signing from Ajax

"He's a smashing boy, great personality, coming in with loads of energy and a big smile every day," he added.

"He played well against Aston Villa [a 1-0 friendly defeat last Saturday], so you're likely to see him [against Palace].

"But, of course, I'm not going to name the team here. 'll have to do that to the boys after training."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows there are no guarantees over Harry Maguire's form after a tumultuous close-season for the Manchester United captain.

Maguire was arrested after an incident with police while on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos last month.

At a trial on the neighbouring island of Syros, the 27-year-old was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery.

He was handed a suspended prison sentence but maintains his innocence and Maguire's pending appeal nullifies the conviction under Greek law.

"The process will keep on going," Solskjaer said ahead of United's Premier League opener at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Knowing Harry, he's a very strong character so hopefully he can put that apart but naturally, as a human being, it will be in the back of your mind what's happened this summer, and apart from that you have just got to see how it develops with Harry.

"Personally, I think he will be able to focus on his football but then who am I to … you can't predict how people will react, but so far he's trained well, he's been focused.

"Hopefully that process will just go on and, of course, we know it's something that will go on in the legal department over there."

Solskjaer announced earlier this month that Maguire would remain his captain after England boss Gareth Southgate removed him from the national squad to face Iceland and Denmark in the wake of his conviction.

Maguire joined United for £80million from Leicester City last year, a world-record fee for a defender, and went on to make 55 appearances in all competitions in 2019-20, scoring three goals.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims England boss Gareth Southgate went against his wishes by calling up Mason Greenwood after the teenager's maiden senior international experience ended in disgrace.

Greenwood, 18, was selected for the Three Lions squad to face Iceland and Denmark in the Nations League at the start of this month.

He made his debut from the bench as England won the former game 1-0 but was then sent home along with Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden after the duo breached strict coronavirus protocols by entertaining women at the team hotel.

Speaking ahead of United's first Premier League game of the 2020-21 season at home to Crystal Palace, Solskjaer questioned England's approach to Greenwood's welfare and suggested he needed a mental break after the rigours of a superb breakthrough campaign, which continued deep into August as United reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.

"Yeah, of course I've spoken to Mason," Solskjaer said. "What we speak about and discuss will be between the two of us.

"The kid had a fantastic season, he's just come through. I've worked and the club has worked and all the staff here have worked really hard - when we gave Mason enough time on the pitch, when we gave him exposure in the media.

"Then you come to the end of the season and we've had less than two weeks off and he's called up to the national team."

Solskjaer seemed to take particular exception to Greenwood being assigned media conference duties ahead of his England debut.

"I have to be honest enough to say I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer, at the club we asked specifically and pointed out he should have had a rest," he added.

"He needs it mentally and physically after that season he had and the first thing that happens is one, he's called up and two, he's right there in the press.

"We've done whatever we can to protect him and I will keep on helping him. I know when he comes back into the daily routine of the club and what we do to him he'll be fine."

Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions last season, matching the best return for a teenager in United colours - a distinction he now shares with club greats George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.

Harry Maguire will remain Manchester United captain for the coming season despite his legal case in Greece, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.

Maguire was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and repeated attempts at bribery at a misdemeanours court in Syros last month.

The 27-year-old, who denied all charges against him, was tried alongside two other defendants after an alleged incident involving police while he was on holiday on the nearby island of Mykonos.

Maguire's legal representatives lodged an appeal, meaning the court's initial verdict was nullified and a full retrial will now take place at a more senior court.

The England international, who was dropped from Gareth Southgate's Nations League squad after the guilty verdict, told the BBC he feared for his life during an apparent altercation with plain-clothed officers, saying: "I thought there was no chance these were police."

"The retrial will give us more time to prepare, gather the evidence, allow witnesses into the court. I'm really confident that the truth will be told and come out," he said.

Speaking ahead of United's pre-season friendly with Aston Villa on Saturday, Solskjaer confirmed he is standing by his skipper.

"Of course, Harry, as you said, had a difficult summer," the United manager told MUTV. "He didn't have a long break. His break was different to others as we gave him a few more days and, after, he's come back and looked fine.

"He's handled it really well and, of course, I'll be here to support him. He is going to be our captain. We'll just leave Harry and his people and the process to run.

"For me, he is a top, an absolute top human being and has always been a positive guy with the right values. So I really hope we can see Harry performing at his best."

The game with Villa will be United's first since they signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m) - their only transfer of the window to date.

Solskjaer has been delighted with the midfielder's first few days of training and made it clear United are still scouring the market for potential deals, although the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made spending difficult for most clubs.

"He's been training only a couple of days but he's a bright, bubbly character," Solskjaer said. "He wants to learn and the first few signs are positive, not that I doubted that one because I've followed him for a few years, of course.

"He's been a talented youngster and now we felt he was ready to come here. He felt it was the best place to come so, for us, it's a good transfer.

"It's been a strange time and a strange world. Financially, I'm sure loads of clubs have suffered. It looks like it as there has not been a lot of activity in the window.

"We're always looking to improve the squad, scouting players and, if something fits, both the financial bit and the football bit, of course we'll try to make some business. But we can't know how the markets and how other clubs have been affected either."

Paul Pogba has returned to Manchester United training after recovering from coronavirus but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure if the midfielder will be fit for the team's Premier League opener.

The 27-year-old was forced to pull out of France's Nations League double-header with Sweden and Croatia over the past week following a positive test for COVID-19.

However, after a period of self-isolation, he has now been cleared to link up with his United team-mates ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace on September 19.

Pogba has not played since the 2-1 Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla on August 16, though manager Solskjaer is hopeful the former Juventus man can quickly rebuild his fitness.

"Paul's had a couple of training sessions so he's lost out on a few sessions because of the virus, of course," Solskjaer told MUTV on Friday.

"But Paul is quick to get fit. Of course, he worked really hard to get back after lockdown last time and played the majority of the games.

"Hopefully he'll be ready for next weekend. I am not 100 per cent sure, though."

Pogba was used 22 times for United in an injury-plagued 2019-20, 14 of those appearances coming after football resumed in June.

He is not expected to play any part in this Saturday's pre-season friendly with Aston Villa, but left-back Luke Shaw is set to feature after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the latter stages of last season.

New signing Donny van de Beek, brought in from Ajax earlier this month for a fee that could rise to £39million, is also likely to get his first minutes in a United shirt.

"Luke is looking really good in training," Solskjaer said. "He has come back, looking strong, and will play in the friendly against Villa.

"It's going to be a game to give players minutes. Some have trained more than others and some will be more ready than others.

"Some played international games, which actually sometimes you think you don't really want that but some of them have got valuable minutes there.

"We'll give the others minutes against Villa so they can all start on a decent level because it's going to be a long season."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says "not everyone can spend millions and millions" as he seemingly cast doubt on Manchester United's plans to further strengthen their squad.

United have made one signing since finishing third in the Premier League last season, bringing in Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

Borussia Dortmund attacker Jadon Sancho is widely considered to be a primary target for Solskjaer, but United have been unable to reach an agreement with the German club.

Left-backs Sergio Reguilon and Alex Telles have also been linked, though Solskjaer is adamant his side will not pay over the odds for any targets in the current market.

"We are always looking to see if there is any way possible that we can improve this squad and bring players in that will have the right level, quality, personality and fits all the criteria," he told BBC Radio Five Live. 

"This summer and year has been a strange one and it is very important everyone understands this has an effect on football. Not everyone can spend millions and millions.

"It is never easy to have too many new players in the team, it takes time for players to gel into a unit. 

"We have seen some clubs go for the quick fix and some have trust in the process. We have to improve and get results but adding players with different qualities than we have."

When asked how many more signings he would like to make before the transfer window closes on October 5, Solskjaer said: "I never set myself a target, like scoring 20 goals as a player. 

"You just have to go day by day, making sure you develop and improve. We have a vision of where we want to get to but know so many things can come in the way. I believe in seeing how the team and club develops."

United could well go into their opening Premier League game against Crystal Palace next week with Van de Beek as their only new recruit.

Solskjaer is pleased with his side's business to date, however, with Van de Beek providing some added competition for Paul Pogba and January signing Bruno Fernandes. 

"When we signed Bruno, we knew we needed that type of player," he said. "Now we have signed Donny, he is the type of player I felt we needed in the squad and the type of person that will fit the culture and the team and will improve us for next season.

"He is a versatile player, he is clever and has plenty of energy and enthusiasm. He scores goals and that is what we need to add from midfield. 

"We need goals throughout the squad, we did not score enough to challenge at the top.

"On signing players, you use the people you know and trust, so I spoke to Ajax director of football Edwin van der Sar and our defender Timothy [Fosu-Mensah] before signing Donny."

United have had less than a month off since concluding their 2019-20 campaign with defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals.

Despite finishing his first full campaign at Old Trafford trophyless, Solskjaer is happy with the progress he has made in his 21 months at the helm.

"We are looking forward to the new season, but it has come around so quickly from last season," he said. "The preparation is very different to what we normally have, and we have to take our Europa League games as pre-season.

"We are a developing team, a year or so into our rebuild. We had to make some decisions last summer and throughout the season we have seen how this team is getting better and getting used to each other.

"I'd rather be an optimist and be wrong than be a pessimist and be right. I did think we would qualify for the Champions League but I was hoping for a trophy along the way as well."

Gary Neville urged Manchester United to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the transfer market if they are to break into the Premier League's top two.

After battling to finish third in 2019-20, United have only added midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax to their squad despite plenty of transfer speculation.

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford, but the Premier League side are yet to complete a deal for the forward.

Former captain Neville said Solskjaer needed backing if United – who finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool last season – were to continue improving.

"A trophy and breaking that top two has to be the next step. I think this year he has to look to break that top two and that's going to be difficult," he said.

"He needs more players and support from the board to do that. If United don't sign any players it won't be down to the manager that they haven't broken into that top two.

"There isn't anybody in the world with that squad that would break that top two in this moment in time and maybe even struggle to compete with Chelsea with the way they've strengthened.

"So this is the moment that Ole, yes he had a difficult start to last season, but I think with what he's done he deserves that backing that the other managers in the last 10 years have been afforded."

United also have questions over their first-choice goalkeeper, with Dean Henderson having returned from an impressive loan spell at Sheffield United to put pressure on the under-fire David de Gea.

While that competition would usually be considered healthy, Neville believes the constant talk over the shot-stoppers could become unhelpful.

"It's never an ideal situation. You're always better having an excellent number one and a quite clear, very good number two. Henderson isn't going to sit around and wait. And every time De Gea makes some mistake we'll be asking, 'Is this Henderson's moment?'

"Certainly when we had a changing goalkeeping situation, say between Roy Carroll and Tim Howard, it was unhealthy as none of them really knew who the number one was. None of them probably felt fully supported – and they always probably felt like they were one mistake away from the other one playing.

"That could happen with De Gea and Henderson. It's going to be a real challenge of Ole's management skills to keep them both happy, because I think that's impossible."

United are due to begin their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on September 19.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

United will pay an initial £34.7m for the 23-year-old, who has penned a five-year contract with the option of a further 12 months to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first recruit ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Van de Beek was one of the star performers for Ajax as they embarked upon a memorable run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League.

However, he now follows former team-mates Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech in making a big-money move away from the Johan Cruijff ArenA, having sat out Ajax's weekend friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"I cannot begin to explain how incredible an opportunity it is to join a club with such an amazing history," he told United's website.

"I would like to thank everyone at Ajax. I grew up there and I will always have a special bond with the club.

"I am now ready to take the next step in my career and perform at the highest level and there is no higher standard than Manchester United.

"Everyone has told me how amazing the Old Trafford atmosphere is and I am looking forward to experiencing that, once it is safe for the fans to return.

"This team has some of the best midfielders in the world and I know that I can learn from them and also bring my own strengths to the group.

"Having spoken to the manager about his vision for this team, the direction that the club is going in is hugely exciting and I cannot wait to be a part of that."

Van de Beek played 175 times for Ajax's first team after progressing through the club's feted youth categories, scoring 41 times.

He must now look to establish himself in a talent-stacked United midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

"Donny has all of the technical attributes needed to perform in this team and has the personality required to succeed at Manchester United," Solskjaer said.

"His ability to see space, time his movements and read the game will really complement the qualities that we have in midfield and his arrival really strengthens the depth of talent we have in that position.

"Donny's performances in the Eredivisie and in Europe have been excellent over the last few years and we are all looking forward to working with him."

United start their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on September 19 – a week later than the majority of their top-flight counterparts, having been involved in the latter stages of the Europa League.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

United will pay an initial £34.7m for the 23-year-old, who has penned a five-year contract with the option of a further 12 months to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first recruit ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Van de Beek was one of the star performers for Ajax as they embarked upon a memorable run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League.

However, he now follows former team-mates Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech in making a big-money move away from the Johan Cruijff ArenA, having sat out Ajax's weekend friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Jesper Olsen believes Manchester United should continue to pursue a deal for Jadon Sancho as he hailed the quality of the Borussia Dortmund star.

United have been strongly linked with a move for Dortmund and England sensation Sancho, though his club have repeatedly insisted the 20-year-old will not be sold ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Sancho established himself as one of the hottest properties in European football last term after scoring 17 goals and supplying 16 assists for Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund, prompting links to the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Barcelona.

As United reportedly continue to try to negotiate with Dortmund – who remain unmoved on their £108million (€120m) valuation – former Red Devils winger Olsen told Stats Perform News: "It's always difficult because you see somebody and you like what you see and you would like them to play for your team. You have to come up with the money and after that, it's only when it begins because you want them to perform.

"If you can get somebody of that class and they want to come to United, of course you pursue it to the end. I've always tended to watch a lot of German and English football, but when you look at the likes of Bayern Munich and the way they perform, you know it's going to be very hard.

"You have incredible teams at the top of Europe, so you have to have bigger squads. Any player of that calibre that can add something to the squad, of course you look for that."

While a blockbuster deal to bring Sancho to Old Trafford is proving difficult, United are poised to sign star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to bolster his squad after leading United to a third-placed finish in the Premier League last season and Champions League qualification.

United enjoyed a 14-match unbeaten streak in the league as they secured a spot in the top four, while Solskjaer's side also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

"Overall, it's fantastic for Manchester United but also Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," Olsen, who won the FA Cup during his four years at United, said. "All the flack that he got for a long, long time as you do when you manage United and not doing well. But you go back to [Alex] Ferguson's era, and it takes time to build up and get the players you want, the team playing the way you want. Sadly nowadays, you don't always have the time.

"We know how difficult it is to win anything in any sport around the world. Everybody says yeah we should win, but it is so tough to win anything, even getting into the semi-finals and final. To actually win something is not easy.

"I'm happy to see them play well. They were really getting into top gear at the end of the season. For Solskjaer too, he is a good guy. He is calm and collected and I think he is the right man for sure."

Bruno Fernandes played a key role in United's resurgence following his January arrival from Sporting CP – the Portuguese midfielder scoring eight goals and supplying seven assists in the Premier League.

Fernandes also managed 12 goals across all competitions as United featured in three semi-finals in 2019-20.

"He has shown, with the way he plays – simple and effective, and just makes things happen. This is what we need. He also has a good engine," former Ajax and Denmark star Olsen said.

"He's settled down some of the younger players too. Daniel James wasn't involved so much at the end of the season but then we look at [Mason] Greenwood. That's what we call exciting players. This is what you want to see."

Doubts over David de Gea's long-term position also emerged during the season, highlighted by his errors in the FA semi-final loss to Chelsea behind closed doors at Wembley amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think defensively, they made mistakes at the back. Sometimes it looked a bit like the goalkeeper De Gea and the defenders didn't fully understand each other but that happens in a lot of teams. For a long, long time we played structured with a strong defence," Olsen continued. "But suddenly, a part of the season something seems to go a bit – tiredness or playing in front of empty stadiums I don't know but certainly there were some things that could be avoided.

"That happens throughout the season. I think Barcelona are going to look back against Bayern and think it was like they weren't there. For everybody, even though we say thank God they can play and finish the season, but there's so many external things that happen to players with families. Not only around themselves but family abroad. It must be a worrying time, like for all of us, for them too. And then have to go and perform and kind of say, let's forget about that even though I think they're happy they can still play because it takes away mentally some of the other things. It must be the biggest nightmare for all of us, but also to go perform in empty stadiums, it makes no sense. We have to kind of allow them to have made a few mistakes given how the world is at the moment."

United finished 33 points behind bitter rivals and champions Liverpool last term but Olsen feels the Manchester club – who have not won the league since Alex Ferguson's final campaign in 2012-13 – can challenge in 2020-21.

"This season, I thought City were going to win the league again because when you look at Pep [Guardiola]'s record. It shows, there's some games and some part of the season that you don't always perform well. Then you have the added pressure of the Champions League, which is really, really important," Olsen added. "For status but money-wise. There's a lot around the Champions League these days and that's where the bigger clubs want to be. All the excitement of playing against the best in Europe.

"I think Manchester United, certainly with Champions League qualification, can test themselves. I think anyone that goes to Old Trafford, it will be hard to win there. If you can go away now, have a settled team, a structure and play how you want to play, then I think they have as much chance as anyone else to win the Premier League and go far in the Champions League for sure."

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