Manchester United were already winning the summer transfer window by some distance when manager Louis van Gaal evidently decided that wasn’t enough, and he wanted to win pre-season as well.
That’s just what he has done, while Chelsea struggled to beat PSG on penalties and lost to New York Red Bulls, Manchester City were hammered by Real Madrid and Liverpool were well, Liverpool, the Red Devils decided to go out there are and comprehensively beat Barcelona.
Now before their fans start getting too carried away at seeing three goals scored against the best team in club football, they might want to remember that Arsenal are also bossing pre-season, and let’s be honest, they’re not going to win the league are they?
Pre-season isn’t the be all and end all by any stretch of the imagination, but a win is a win, and here are five things that were noteworthy from United’s 3-1 win over Barca.
Keeping De Gea for a final season would be worth it
Even if it means losing him on a free come next summer. The Manchester United goalkeeper was magnificent against Barcelona and showed once again why Real Madrid are so keen on signing him.
Arsenal have made so much of the fact that they think Cech will save them ten points a season, and the same can be said for De Gea, with the United stopper one of the main reasons they are in the Champions League again, after his match winning performances last season.
Despite the confusion over his future, he is still producing on the field and with the players around him a vast improvement on last season, he could well be the difference between a title and a third placed finish. That alone is worth keeping him and writing off the £25 million transfer fee the club would get should they bow to the demands Real Madrid are making.
New boy Darmian is the real deal
After not being able to test themselves against the best sides in the world last season, United players and the fans were probably eager to see what a game against Barcelona would bring – even if it was a pre-season friendly.
Given the result, they are right to be pleased with what they saw, but one of the most noteworthy performances of the night was from new signing Matteo Darmian, who was up against Luis Saurez, one third of the most deadly attacking trio in world football.
Purchased by Louis van Gaal to be a defender, defend he did, and showed flashes of a very good player indeed while he was at it.
Could Daley Blind actually fill that left sided centre half spot?
Another defensive point for Van Gaal and the fans to ponder is that of Daley Blind, who played on the left hand side of the defence and at times struggled against Suarez.
Now while he might not come up against a better player this season, it does beg the question of if he should be playing as a defender – but it also shows that his manager has complete faith in him to do a job just about anywhere on the field.
While the fans might draw the line at seeing Blind in goal, giving him the chance to usurp the hapless Jonny Evans might not be such a bad idea from LVG.
Ashley Young has come on leaps and bounds
Last season, Young showed why United decided to bring him to the club and was impressive under Van Gaal after being one of the players most people thought would be shipped out the door. He has continued that form during pre-season and been brilliant, and gave Barcelona plenty to think about on the wing, putting in the cross that led to the Rooney goal.
Time is running out on Young’s deal, with less than a year to go, and while it is hard to see the player making a step up from United, fans are always uneasy when contracts get into the danger zone. Given he is homegrown and a quality player, Young deserves a new deal and a chance to really establish himself as one of the best players in the Premier League.
There are more ins and outs to come before the transfer window closes
Angel Di Maria ‘missed’ his flight to link up with the rest of the squad after an extended break following his Copa America tournament, and manager Louis van Gaal told the rest of the squad he had asked to leave. The winger seems Paris bound after just a single season in English football, with his solitary season in Manchester more miss than hit.
Sergio Romero is also set to join the squad, and you have to imagine that the minute the money for Di Maria hits the United bank account, Ed Woodward will try and push a move for Pedro through, with the winger facing United for Barcelona during the friendly, but doing nothing to reassure fans over his future.
A forward also seems to be a priority, despite Wayne Rooney finding the back of the net, with the usual suspects all being linked with Old Trafford on an almost daily basis.