16 C
Ottawa
20.2 C
Manchester
Friday, September 24, 2021

Latest Posts

Manchester United need a change of approach for next midfield signing

Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More info

The clock is ticking ever louder for Manchester United this summer. The transfer window closes in six days and the likelihood of further incomings recedes every time the bells ring out for the hour.

Departures are essential to fund more new faces after the £116million splurge on Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho and the fact Cristiano Ronaldo can’t find a new club shows you why United had to sanction another loan for Andreas Pereira, rather than making a sale.

This is not a seller’s market and nobody has left United on a permanent deal this summer. Jesse Lingard looks more and more likely to remain at Old Trafford too.

That means the window is winding down for United as things stand, despite interest in signing a right-back and a midfielder throughout the summer. Both of those positions are probably more pressing than a striker, despite Gary Neville’s insistence that United should be going all out for Harry Kane.

Sunday’s draw with Southampton was certainly a 90-minute exhibition in why a midfielder should be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s priority. While Bruno Fernandes is faultless, he’s also a de-facto fourth forward in the 4-2-3-1. It’s the base behind him that remains a concern.

Fred and Nemanja Matic were paired together at St Mary’s and neither was effective. Fred had one of those games where his passing ability was exposed, while the Brazilian and Matic were regular victims of the Southampton press. Ralph Hassenhutl’s side are amongst the best in the league at pressing, but the ease at which United’s two midfielders gave up the ball would have concerned Solskjaer.

One of the midfield names to have been linked with a move to Old Trafford all window is Saul Niguez, a player that has long had admirers at the club. The 26-year-old can leave Atletico Madrid and with deadline day dooming the La Liga champions may now be open to a loan move to get his wages off their books.

A move to United is still considered unlikely, even in circumstances that make it less financially difficult, and there’s also an argument that Saul simply isn’t the player United need.

So far this season he’s played left wing-back in both of Atletico’s games. Last season he played 22 games in central midfield, eight in defensive midfield, eight on the left of midfield, two on the right and one as an attacking midfielder. He’s a fine jack of all trades, albeit one who has seen his standards slip recently, but United need a specialist.

In Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba they have midfielders who could play as a No. 6 or a No. 8, while Fernandes can play as an eight or a 10.

Fred and Scott McTominay is often Solskjaer’s go-to double pivot in midfield, but neither is a natural defensive midfielder. The former is loose in possession and more energetic pressing higher up the pitch, while McTominay can be a goal threat near the opposition penalty box.

That leaves Matic as the only natural defensive midfielder in Solskjaer’s squad, but age is catching up with the Serbian and on the evidence of Sunday you wouldn’t want him playing as a lone shielder in a 4-3-3. just as you wouldn’t want to leave Fred or McTominay holding the fort.

That formation is something Solskjaer remains keen to try at United. Bringing in Varane strengthens the case for a switch, as a better one-on-one defender than Victor Lindelof, but to really give himself more options the United boss needs a top-level defensive midfielder and it’s debatable whether Saul is that player.

Of all the midfielders linked with United this summer it’s probably Declan Rice who best fits the bill. He won’t be leaving West Ham this summer, but in 2022 he will have just two years left on his contract and a move will be easier to do. He’s the kind of specialist United need, rather than another jack of all trades.

Sign up to our United newsletter so you never miss an update from Old Trafford this s eason.

Latest Posts

spot_img

Don't Miss