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Friday, April 19, 2024

‘A cut above’… Who is the bargain defensive midfielder Manchester United want to sign?

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Manchester United are looking far and wide for potential summer signings, who will eventually be assessed by the club’s new leadership structure.

Various names are beginning to be linked, with Manchester United in need of reinforcements in almost every single position.

Midfield is one area which needs reshaping, with Kobbie Mainoo one of the only ‘guarantees’ to be involved next season. The questions are over who should partner him.

One interesting name to emerge is Mandela Keita, a young star at Royal Antwerp. Belgian outlet Voetbal Krant report he has been watched by Manchester United.

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Belgium U21 v Kazakhstan U21 - UEFA EURO U21 Qualifiers

Photo by Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

Mandela Keita background and current season

Mandela Keita is a defensive midfilelder who is a regular in Mark van Bommel’s Royal Antwerp side, who competed in the Champions League group stages.

He began his career with Belgian side OH Leuven, making his debut in 2021 at 19. He played 40 games before being signed by Antwerp, where he has 48 appearances so far. Keita has one career goal.

Keita is on loan at Antwerp, who have an obligation to buy at the end of this current season, and could quite easily sell to Manchester United for a profit.


Keita has 30 appearances this season, including three in the Champions League, and also made his Belgium international debut.

  • Full name: Lamine Mandela Keita
  • Age/date of birth: 21, born 10/5/02
  • Place of birth: Leuven
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Citizenship: Guinea
  • Position: Defensive midfield
  • Club: Royal Antwerp, on loan from OH Leuven

What has been said about Mandela Keita

Manager Mark van Bommel has admitted, via Voetbal Nieuws: “There is currently interest in Keita and that interest will not disappear.”

Nieuwsblad also state: “After Arthur Vermeeren, Mandela Keita should become Antwerp’s next outgoing top transfer. No lack of interest. Even Manchester United have scouted him several times.”

After being called up for his first ever Belgium cap, manager Dominic Tedesco explained: “We need a lot of power, of physicality in the centre, and that’s why we decided for Mandela.

He added: “Austria and Sweden are physical teams, who will play second balls. I need players who will have that impact. Arthur [Vermeeren] is ready but I think Mandela is a cut above for that.”

Keita spoke about his own style, commenting: “The fact that I try to combine the two (Kante and Pogba) makes me quite unique, I think,” via Voetbal Nieuws.

Mandela Keita verdict

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Belgian midfielder Amadou Onana, at Everton, who Teamtalk claimed could cost as much as £60 million.

Keita would be available at a fraction of the price. Antwerp sold his teammate Arthur Vermeeren for just £15 million in January to Atletico Madrid.

While Keita is untested in the Premier League, United need to establish themselves as a club where players can develop, buying players for value, before their prices soar.

United need to find a potential successor for Casemiro, and if the Brazilian does stay one more season, Keita may be an ideal option to learn behind him, free of pressure, and develop as a potential partner for Kobbie Mainoo.

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