Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho will transform Manchester United’s defence and attack. The midfield still feels like it is missing a key piece.

Even before United’s reported plan to shift to a 4-3-3 formation as reported, the defensive midfield position looked like a priority. Now it feels of even bigger importance.

United’s options currently are an ageing Nemanja Matic and a young James Garner. Neither Fred or Scott McTominay are effective enough in the position. If United are determined to win trophies now, then it is important to go and buy the player required.

As for who that should be, well, there are plenty of options. These range from the expensive and overpriced, to bargain options who it may be worth gambling on. Here is a look at a full XI of players United should and may consider…

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Declan Rice

The most expensive option. England international Declan Rice is valued at a staggering £100 million by West Ham. It’s too much especially considering the money already spent.

United could offset some of this by selling Jesse Lingard, but the attacker is less likely to want to move to West Ham if they are weakened by Rice’s departure.

United could try to wait this one out another year and see if Rice’s price drops. The 22-year-old would be a long term option and his performances at Euro 2020 underlined his ability to perform on the big stage. He will be hungry for more.

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Wilfred Ndidi

Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi could cost around £60 million and he could be a tempting option for United.

The Nigerian international won 73 tackles last season in the Premier League, the third highest, despite playing only 24 games.

Ndidi’s average tackles per game (3.7) was the best in the league and his interception rate of 2.4 per game was also top among midfielders. Still only 24, his best years are ahead of him.

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Joao Palhinha

Joao Palhinha enjoyed a terrific season at Sporting, helping them win the league and earning an international call-up with Portugal.

Palhinha, 26, would cost around £35 million, an affordable price, and he could add balance to United’s midfield.

Last season he won the highest number of tackles in the Portuguese league at 3.3 per game. Rice by comparison averaged 1.8 in the Premier League.

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Marcelo Brozovic

Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has the experience United need and he is coming off a title winning season in Italy.

The 28-year-old has played in a World Cup final and featured in 33 of 38 league games for Inter last season.

Brozovic is comfortable in possession to help dictate games. Last season he had the seventh highest number of touches in Serie A of all players.

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Teun Koopmeiners

Highly rated Dutch talent Teun Koopmeiners impressed against United a couple of seasons ago for AZ Alkmaar.

Koopmeiners, 23, is a strong passer, managing seven assists last season. Defensively he is strong, averaging 2.7 tackles per game.


While often a gamble signing a player from the Eredivisie, Koopmeiners’ cheaper price would reflect that and lower the risk.

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Aurelien Tchouameni

Ligue 1’s breakout star of 2020/21, Aurelien Tchouameni was talked up by Cesc Fabregas who said on Twitter: “He has the potential to be the complete midfielder.”

Tchouameni ranked second in Ligue 1 last season for successful tackles, and ranked fourth for interceptions.

He would likely cost around £40 million and at the age of 21 he is a prospect worth pursuing. Tchouameni would be a cheaper and arguably better option than Rice.

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Yves Bissouma

Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma was one of the Premier League’s most impressive players last season.

Bissouma was outstanding at Old Trafford earlier this year, making six interceptions against United and winning three tackles. He ranked second in the league for total tackles won and seventh for interceptions.

The 24-year-old looks primed for a big move and passing up on him could be a mistake. He would cost in the £40 million range.

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Ruben Neves

A lot of the hype surrounding Ruben Neves has quietened down compared to a couple of seasons ago and he needs a move to refresh his career.

Neves still ranked fifth in the league for tackles won, and as United have found to our cost previously, he has a dangerous shot on him.

The Athletic has reported Wolves are ready to cash in on him this summer as they enter a new era, and he could cost just £35 million.

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Eduardo Camavinga

A move with an eye on the future. Eduardo Camavinga, 18, is a player who can be moulded into a defensive midfielder.

He played this position in 2019/20 before evolving into a more box to box role in 2020/21. He already has more than 80 first team appearances under his belt.

Last season he won 70 tackles in Ligue 1, the seventh highest in the division, more than any Manchester United player managed in the Premier League.

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Boubacar Kamara

Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara has more than 100 appearances for the club at the age of 21, and has just one year remaining on his contract.

United could do a deal for around £20 million and take a gamble on the gifted youngster.

Kamara ranked eighth in Frances for tackles won, just behind Camavinga, and recorded the 10th most passes into the final third among all players in France.

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Ibrahim Sangare

Another cheaper option, PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Sangare, who like Kamara, would possibly cost around £20 million max.

Last season the Ivory Coast international averaged 3.5 tackles per game, the second highest in the Eredivisie. He also averaged 2.1 interceptions per game, top 10 in the division

He was even spotted wearing a United kit earlier this summer.

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