Manchester United are being forced into summer signing they didn't want or plan for

Mason Mount
United need a new left-back. -Credit:2023 Manchester United FC

Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier has suggested the government controls the weather, implying they planned for sunshine when there was a lockdown in spring 2020.

For some reason, conspiracy theorists are rife across society. Social media has undoubtedly contributed. It's a fantastic and dangerous tool because it gives everyone a platform, including those like Le Tissier.

Conspiracy theories recently extended to Manchester United social media when fans began to speculate over the health and whereabouts of Tyrell Malacia. It was natural for there to be questions around Malacia at the start of the season considering the lack of communication from the club, but the Manchester Evening News exclusively revealed the reason behind his absence in October, explaining he'd undergone surgery.

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Malacia played a competitive fixture for the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League on June 14 but went under the knife a month later after the beginning of pre-season. The defender sustained the knee injury last season and United initially looked to manage it with pain injections. But surgery was eventually required and a lay-off followed.

It's understood the player was on crutches after the injury and spent some time in the Netherlands to recover. At the time, sources indicated a return before the New Year was the target, but he suffered a setback in rehabilitation and another round of surgery was required.

Sergio Reguilon's loan was cut short in the January transfer window as United expected Malacia and Luke Shaw, who has suffered different muscle injuries this season, to be available for the second half of the campaign but that plan hasn't gone as hoped. Shaw sustained a fresh injury in the win over Luton Town in February and Malacia has continued to be absent, leaving United without any senior left-backs.

Manager Erik ten Hag has said: “You can accept in a position that a player is not available but when two players are not available over the course of the season that is very frustrating.

Malacia initially returned to Carrington in July. -Credit:Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
Malacia initially returned to Carrington in July. -Credit:Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

"I think it's going to be difficult for him [Malacia] this season to be available. He will fight, he's back on the pitch, but not in the team and the process had some setbacks for him and he's still going forwards really slowly and the season is coming to an end."

Understandably, Ten Hag has been frustrated at both his left-backs picking up injuries and recently went out of his way to highlight the impact of their absences. Malacia is not expected to play until next season and Shaw should return in the coming weeks, although that's hardly compensation for the crucial fixtures he's missed.

This summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of Shaw signing for United and, unfortunately, his decade spent in Manchester has been plagued with injury problems. There have been various muscle, hamstring, ankle, groin, foot and head issues and he's only been available for 70 per cent of games in a season twice since 2014.

Shaw is the club's longest-serving player and can be outstanding when available. He is a role model and it's understood he does charitable work that he doesn't make public, but his injury record is poor and it ultimately might cost him his starting place at United.

If Shaw and Malacia had been fit this season, signing a new left-back wouldn't have been on the agenda but it's now near the top of United's priorities in the summer window. Although many fans would still argue a new core should be the priority, strengthening at centre-back, centre midfield and centre-forward - it's likely a left-back will be signed.

Availability is the best quality to have and both Shaw and Malacia have struggled to maintain fitness, which has left United no choice but to scout the market for a left-back. It shouldn't be a surprise if a player in that position is signed this summer.