Manchester United are unlikely to consider even making a move for Declan Rice this transfer window, West Ham would not even pick up the phone to negotiate mid-season.
One club who are willing to do a deal for their key midfielder is Borussia Moenchengladbach, report BILD, with Denis Zakaria entering the final few months of his contract.
The Mirror report Zakaria has emerged as a top target for United and cite his price at £25 million.
In reality, Zakaria could end up costing far less, with ‘Gladbach keen to avoid losing him on a free transfer in the summer.
A previous report from Gazetta dello Sport citing interest from Juventus claimed Zakaria could be sold for as little as £8.5 million in January.
Zakaria upgrades United’s midfield
Two years ago Zakaria told the Bundesliga website: “I’ve been compared to [Patrick] Vieira and [Paul] Pogba – two more players I really respect and, in a way, see as role models. When I watch videos of them I think I’d like to play that way.”
The Switzerland international is 25 and has been a regular in the Bundesliga this season, although his form has been mixed.
He was the star man in a win over Borussia Dortmund, in which he scored the winner and outplayed Jude Bellingham. But there have been lows too, with his side on the wrong end of a 6-0 thrashing against surprise package Freiburg, who sit third in the division.
In Zakaria’s favour is the fact United manager Ralf Rangnick will know him well from his time in the Bundesliga. The midfielder also stands at 6ft 3″ tall, fitting the interim boss’ desire to sign a midfielder with height, reported by The Athletic.
Data from FBRef.com ranks Zakaria in the top 10 for pass completion in the Bundesliga, with 90 per cent of his passes completed this season. This shows a refreshing trait, with United’s players struggling to retain possession in games on a weekly basis.
Off the ball Zakaria has blocked 36 shots this season, which ranks in the top five in the league, while also averaging more than two interceptions per game at 2.19. The highest among United players is 1.3 per game.
Just these two traits alone, with Zakaria’s passing and defensive alertness, shows what he could bring to United’s team.
Bundesliga’s fastest midfielder
Stats from Bundesliga.com show Denis Zakaria as the sixth fastest player in the Bundesliga this season with a top pace of 35.62 km/h.
All five players in front of him are strikers or defenders, with Zakaria ranking as the fastest midfielder in the division.
Part of the reason United’s midfield has been neglected and got into the state it is in, was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s desire to wait on dream signings – who may never arrive. Declan Rice was his preference, so United did not sign anybody else, with an aim to try again next summer.
So instead United have had to play another half season with a depleted midfield, instead of signing a second or third choice. The likes of Ruben Neves and Yves Bissouma would have been outstanding additions instead of Rice, and United bought neither.
Zakaria would give United an instant upgrade, and at a price potentially of under £10 million, this is a deal the club should be looking at seriously.
United may still need another midfielder or two, with Donny van de Beek clearly not rated, and Paul Pogba on his way out.
A move for Zakaria could be the easiest move United do this month, with Amadou Haidara off at the AFCON with Mali.
Ralf Rangnick showed a real eye for a bargain at RB Leipzig, and its hard to believe he is happy with the options he has seen at United so far. Zakaria would fit in with his philosophy.
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