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Manchester United have 48 hours to solve one final transfer problem

This has been a transfer window in two stages for Manchester United, one that began with a degree of promise, endured a frustrating spell in the middle and is ending with a flourish.

With deals agreed for Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez by the middle of July, Erik ten Hag’s Old Trafford rebuild began encouragingly,

but the positivity of pre-season was washed away by poor results and a transfer window that ground to a halt in August.

Malacia, Eriksen and Martinez all fixed specific issues that Ten Hag had identified in his team, but none of them were to be the star name in this window.

That role had been earmarked for Frenkie de Jong, but once Martinez’s £57million move from Ajax was confirmed, negotiations with Barcelona brought everything else to a halt.

took United a long time to move on from the interminable saga involving De Jong, who had been Ten Hag’s top target in midfield. They held back a sizeable chunk of their transfer budget in the hope of breaking the deadlock with Barcelona

but that moment never arrived and the dreadful start to the season essentially kyboshed any chances of a deal.

That horror start loosened the purse strings, to a degree. The nature of defeats to Brighton and Brentford made Ten Hag realise a defensive midfielder was essential

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