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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Four transfer options Manchester United should explore to solve midfield weakness – Manchester Evening News

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to sign a central midfielder at Manchester United, having dedicated most of his transfer budget to defence and attack since his appointment at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek are the two closest profiles, although it is reasonable to label both of those players as no.10 types rather than players who perform in the middle of the park on a regular basis.

Unsurprisingly, United’s midfield is recognised as their weakest area, with Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic struggling to provide balance this season.

So if the club are to search for a solution in the transfer market, who could they target in the future to give the department a timely boost?

Declan Rice (West Ham) He would prove to be expensive, but it is hard to ignore the rise of Declan Rice at West Ham. Since emerging as a regular performer in a midfield two, Rice has evolved to become a key presence under David Moyes.

He’s English, homegrown and always available, having started in 81 of his team’s previous 87 matches in the Premier League, which is quite remarkable.

Still just 22 years-old, Rice is an expert at covering ground, screening his defensive teammates, breaking up opposition attacks and providing a platform for the players positioned ahead of him to express themselves.

Considering the offensive talent at Old Trafford at the moment, Rice could be perfect. And since he’s grown in stature, his ability to contribute when in possession of the ball has significantly improved too.

Aurelien Tchouameni (AS Monaco) Aurelien Tchouameni is a player who has been linked with United in the past, and the rumours should be no surprise. As a talent who reportedly on the radars of Chelsea and Real Madrid, the Frenchman looks destined for the top.

At 21 years old, he’s likely to rank among the youngest of the players tipped with moves to Manchester, but he performs to a level beyond his years.

Tchouameni is a highly capable ball-winner. Last season, he placed fourth in Ligue 1 for interceptions and second for tackles, with his totals receiving a healthy boost as a result of his time on the field, starting 36 of a possible 38 matches.

On the ball, the youngster is a solid contributor and standing around 6 ft 1 in, he possesses enough of a physical presence to compete at the pinnacle of English football.

Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) Still just 25 years old, Kalvin Phillips is both English and homegrown, and he’s established himself as a versatile performer in recent years at Leeds.

Phillips is keen and industrious without the ball, and he’s accustomed to an intense and proactive playing style, having performed under Marcelo Bielsa for three years, with the Argentine renowned for his unique brand of offensive football.

The Leeds fulcrum has showcased outstanding availability in recent seasons, and he’s able to merge aggression and fight on the defensive side of the game with an impressive passing range when he’s on the ball.

This summer, he’ll have two years remaining on his current contract, meaning a move could be on the cards.

Franck Kessie (AC Milan) Franck Kessie is more of a wildcard option, but he could be deemed as a suitable purchase due to the expiration date of his current contract at AC Milan.

Kessie’s deal is due to run out in 2022, meaning that once the upcoming summer arrives, he’ll be available for a free transfer. He could also be attained for a reduced price in January.

Now approaching his 25th birthday, the Ivory Coast international is a reliable and well-rounded performer. He’s athletic and capable of covering open spaces, strong when battling for the ball, and he’s also notably skilful and dynamic when in possession.

Milan have also used 4-2-3-1 over the past two-and-a-half seasons — which has been Solskjaer’s favoured system for United – with Kessie as one of the two holding players. He could be a very sensible transfer option.

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