As reported by France Football, there is growing interest in young Manchester United starlet Aliou Traore.
Benfica, Celtic, and Rangers are all reported to be keen on the 19-year-old central midfielder.
Traore’s situation is a difficult one for United. He is really talented, yet finds himself well down the queue at Old Trafford, for a first team chance which may never arrive.
In the under-18 team he stood out, able to physically dominate opponents. The step up to the under-23s has been more testing for the young Frenchman, now 19.
Traore has still performed well. He has four goals from 16 games this season, scoring in United’s 2-1 win over Norwich in January.
So with just one year left on his contract, and clubs showing interest, United have a dilemma.
What to do next?
One easy solution is to cash in. United may not get much of a fee, perhaps £1 million. Every little helps in this climate, and with other sales can build towards a far larger transfer kitty.
This would enable Traore to move to a club where he has a better chance of first team football.
Traore is behind James Garner and Dylan Levitt, while competing with Ethan Galbraith, and fellow Frenchman Hannibal Mejbri will be looking to catch up and overtake him next season. There are other youngsters in the mix too, Traore needs to do something to stand out.
He was not one of the players to make the trip to Astana last year, and there may simply be too many obstacles in his path.
Loan instead of selling?
Traore is different to United’s other young midfielders. He is stronger and more physically ready for first team action, and his shooting ability can help him to catch the eye.
If United still believe in his talent, which is very possible considering he has has started in 12 of his 16 under-23 appearances this season, the move may be to send him out on loan.
Traore may have to agree to a short contract extension first. This would be sensible on both sides, just to roll his deal over for a further year, in case he goes out on loan and excels.
Taking into account the intensity of competition for places in midfield at first team level, a loan move is the best way for him to attract Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attention.
If Traore moves to a club on loan and makes the type of impact he can by running past opponents and scoring goals from midfield, his chances of getting noticed will increase.
Whether Celtic, Rangers or Benfica are the right clubs for him is another matter. All of them already have multiple midfield options and he may not go straight into the side. He may be better off taking a level below, to make a faster impact.
What will United do?
The new Scottish season aims to get underway on August 1, so if there is a big push from Celtic or Rangers, a decision may have to be taken as soon as next month.
If not, then United will have until October 5, when the transfer deadline closes.
In the case that United still believe in Traore, a loan is likely. Or we may simply decide to keep him and develop him ourselves in-house, and send other players out on loan instead.
The alternative is United take a prudent view, and get ruthless. The step up may simply be too big. That will lead to United taking the decision to get a small fee now, and move on, opening up an under-23 spot for new talent.
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