Denis Zakaria shows Manchester United what they are missing with outstanding Juventus debut

For around just £5 million Manchester United could have signed Denis Zakaria in the January transfer window.

German channel Sport1 reported United made contact with the midfielders’ representatives, and that was as far as interest went, beyond claiming Ralf Rangnick ‘thinks highly’ of the player.

United chose not to sign Zakaria, and did not sign any midfielder. Juventus have long been a club with an eye for a bargain, and moved to snap him up for a fee of just £4m plus add-ons.

Photo by ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP via Getty Images

Dream debut

On a weekend Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup in humiliating fashion at home to Middlesbrough, Zakaria enjoyed a successful debut for Juventus.

The Swiss star was everywhere as he helped his side earn a 2-0 victory over Verona. Naturally, Zakaria scored the second goal, adding to an early strike from fellow new signing Dusan Vlahovic, a striker linked to United by The Mail in December.

Zakaria’s goal came after a lung-busting midfield run as he got on the end of a through ball into the penalty area and finished off a counter-attack with a clinical strike. It topped off a dream debut.

The former Borussia Moenchengladbach star helped his side keep a clean sheet thanks to his excellent defensive work.

He made four interceptions, the joint-highest in the Juventus side, and also won two tackles and blocked one shot.

Zakaria completed 86 per cent of his passes and was substituted in the 82nd minute to a positive reception from his new supporters.

TMW gave him a rating of 7/10, reporting: “A lot of running, many balls recovered, not great technique. However, he has a freshness on his side that was not there in Allegri’s midfield.”

Photo by Matteo Bottanelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

United could well have done with an addition like Zakaria in the midfield mix. For the price he cost due to his expiring contract, there was no gamble. Even if he is imperfect, United’s lack of options dictated a new face was needed, with Nemanja Matic judged not good enough to start. It was a bizarre decision especially with a top four fight and Champions League knockout rounds ahead.

Passing him up looks like an oversight already with his debut strike showing United what they could have had. Let’s hope there are better options lined up in the summer, and that by time we get there, the team are able to offer Champions League football.

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