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Friday, February 23, 2024

Man Utd eye late transfer to repeat Bruno Fernandes masterclass

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Erik ten Hag is desperate to sign a new attacker to ease Man Utd’s attacking issues. Ineos have already conducted multiple changes to their off-field staff, but they could also look to address Manchester United’s issues on the field this month. The Red Devils have become known for overpaying over the last few years, but that strategy looks set to change with the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Therefore, let’s look at a potential bargain who could instantly improve Erik ten Hag’s side. Manchester United will look to solve their right-wing dilemma According to a report from Football Transfers, United are currently scouting Marcus Edwards ahead of a possible move. It could well be done at a relative bargain price too. Indeed, the winger is rumoured to be available for £30m, with his contract expiring in 2026. That being said, unless funds are raised via sales in the month of January, a move this winter is unfortunately off the cards for the Red Devils. Related January transfer window: All the confirmed deals from England and Scotland Stay on top of all the latest transfer deals across the EFL and SPFL as we enter the final week of the January window. How Edwards would improve Man United Edwards is currently starring in Portugal for Sporting, with last season being his best to date, as he scored 12 goals and registered 14 assists in 51 matches. This campaign, the 25-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, with the winger contributing to 11 goals already. The prospect of signing another gem from Sporting will excite the United faithful, especially after they purchased Bruno Fernandes from the Portuguese club for an initial fee of £47m in January 2020. The Portugal international’s move to Old Trafford has been nothing short of a masterclass, with Fernandes earning the captain’s armband and going down as the “best Man Utd player of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era” as per one journalist. Ten Hag’s Portuguese magnifico has contributed to 129 goals in 213 games, which highlights his importance to the side. But how does he compare to Edwards? Positionally not very much but they both boast seriously impressive numbers in the offensive thirds of play. The table below shows statistics from this Liga Portugal season which suggests that the former Spurs man could just have a similar effect on the side. Edwards’ 2023/24 Liga Portugal Stats Stats (per 90) Edwards League Percentile Non-penalty goals 0.34 Top 28% Assists 0.25 Top 26% xA 0.40 Top 3% Goals/shot 0.16 Top 22% Key passes 3.56 Top 1% Shot-creating actions 6.01 Top 3% Successful take-ons 2.12 Top 17% Stats via FBref Edwards’ output in front of goal is what makes him such a deadly forward and what separates him from United’s current right winger, Antony, who’s failed to even register a goal contribution since May. His goals/shot ratio being in the top 22% in the league, which also indicates that he’s a clinical finisher. Ten Hag desperately needs that considering his side have netted 24 goals in 21 Premier League games. However, Edward’s being a “creative outlet,” as per football writer Ben Mattinson, is his biggest asset, with his direct approach causing havoc in attack. The Englishman’s impressive key passes, xA (expected assists), successful take-ons, and shot-creating actions all show his ability to make something happen out of nothing, inevitably bringing unpredictability to the stale United attack. The above makes him similar to Fernandes in terms of his wizard-like traits, with the captain creating the most big chances in the league last season. Overall, Edwards would massively improve United, and due to his creativity, he could become Fernandes 2.0. For his skillset, £30m does seem like a steal, given today’s market.

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