Raphael Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho will transform Manchester United’s defence and attack. The midfield still feels like it is missing a key piece.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came into the summer looking to add a right-winger, a centre-back, a right-back and a defensive midfielder to his squad but after the arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo United began to prioritise departures.
That means that the addition of a midfielder and a right-back is likely to have to wait until 2022, which could allow United to take a look at some targets over the course of the next few months.
Fred and Scott McTominay have provided much stability and control in midfield this season, but neither of them hold the assurance, authority and dominance required to be hugely effective in the defensive-midfield role.
Nemanja Matic won’t be as efficient and dominant as he is now, for much longer, so United cannot afford to halt any plans to look for his long-term successor. Someone who could potentially add stability, mobility, a huge tactical and positional understanding, can circulate possession progressively and is combative in his defensive work. One who could screen in front of the back four competently, a much younger and fresher candidate.
Here are some defensive-midfield target who could potentially fulfil such roles for United in the years to come:
- Declan Rice:
A player who has come on leaps and bounds this season, and certainly deserves a shot much greener pastures. The former Chelsea academy product has been heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge this summer, and he is a target that Solskjaer should certainly explore when looking for a long-term defensive midfield option for United.
Since the Premier League restart, Rice has been a standout performer throughout as West Ham looked to secure Premier League security. His performance in the win over Chelsea was nothing short of spectacular.
Showcasing just why he’s rumoured to make the big step up, Rice is just the midfield target that United need to consider for the long haul. This season has shown him transform into one of the most complete defensive midfielders in the top-flight. Incredibly mobile, dominant in the tackle, massively improved in his distribution and has stepped up as a leader alongside Mark Noble in the West Ham team.
- Wilfred Ndidi:
Ndidi is one of the dream midfield signings for United. He is proven in the Premier League, and as he demonstrated.
City are the team for United to beat, and while United have done so frequently under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ndidi’s performance highlighted what he is capable of. Add him into United’s team and his game could reach an even higher level.
Ndidi is the perfect fit for United. He would allow United’s more attacking players to shine, and he could be the player who can provide the balance Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to thrive, while still balancing out the defensive requirements.
Last season Ndidi led the Premier League with a 3.7 tackles per game average, and was the top performing midfielder with 2.3 interceptions.
Considering Ndidi’s quality, and United’s need, the Leicester midfielder really would be the dream signing, and would convince fans that this side is complete enough to win the title.
- Yves Bissouma:
Manchester United could make a move for Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma in the January transfer window. The Malian international has become a sought-after player with several big teams showing an interest thanks to his solid performances with the Seagulls.
Yves Bissouma could fix that gaping hole in the middle of the park, thanks to his energy, work-rate, tackling and dribbling ability. Bissouma can play in midfield or defensive midfield, and has shown that he’s capable of going up and down the pitch for the entire game. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and confident of moving forward with the ball.
His greatest strength is his tackling and interceptions though, with the player averaging 2.9 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game, respectively, last season. Bissouma’s speed, strength and stamina have helped him become a superb player in the Premier League. The addition of a player like Bissouma could give an attack-minded midfielder like Pogba more freedom to go ahead and play his natural game.
Yves Bissouma has a few years of Premier League experience under his belt and is at the right age to make the jump to a big side like Manchester United.