Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stubbornness in the transfer market cost Manchester United on at least one occasion. This is not to bash the former manager, it is just to state simple facts.
In the summer of 2019, United chose to ignore signing a creative midfielder, only to realise his error months later and pay £67 million for Bruno Fernandes six months later.
Solskjaer’s most recent stubborn decision probably ended up costing him his job, choosing to ignore strengthening the club’s midfield last summer. Now United could repeat the transfer trick.
In 2019 Fernandes was the clear option, but United chose not to sign him, before eventually changing their mind. Last summer one clear option was Ruben Neves, with interest cited by ESPN, and the club passed up the opportunity.
United’s weakness in midfield has been exposed this season all too often. Most recently it was Neves himself who showed the team up, helping Wolves to a win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Sky Sports report United are once again monitoring Neves with a view to a potential move this month. Better late than never.
Worth the money to improve key area
Watching United’s midfield is a struggle each and every week. Neves would help a great deal. The Portuguese star can pass and he can tackle, and as an international teammate of Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, he would slot straight in.
He is a player who would already have the respect of his teammates as a tough opponent to face, and the chance to play in the Champions League knockout stages could help tempt him to Old Trafford.
Neves is still only 24, and should fit the strategy employed by Ralf Rangnick at his previous clubs of buying players while they are on the rise before they peak. Neves is ready for a new challenge.
This season Neves ranks inside the top 10 in the Premier League for passes into the final third (108), and he is also in the top 10 for off ball pressures. He averages 2.65 tackles per game and 1.65 interceptions, per FBRef.com.
The mistake United made under Solskjaer was skipping over sensible, moderately priced additions like Neves, in the hope that a dream signing like Declan Rice might become available 12 months later, and there’s no guarantee that will happen.
In the meantime United fans have had to endure substandard midfield performances all season long, and Solskjaer lost his job. Neves alone won’t fix United’s midfield, but he would be a great start.
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