Manchester United have been linked with some big names already this summer. But the latest rumour came out of left field this week.
According to Foot Mercato, United have made an official bid for Rayan Ait-Nouri. The 19-year-old left-back allegedly travelled to Manchester on Tuesday to hold talks with both United and City.
Considering Ait-Nouri has the same agent as Bruno Fernandes, United will be hoping they have an advantage. The return of Champions League football to Old Trafford will also be enticing to a player with no shortage of suitors.
But do United really need another left-back given the presence of Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams at Old Trafford?
In short, this is one deal that makes plenty of sense, even if the teenager could cost a tidy sum.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and that is certainly the case with Luke Shaw.
The England international has been back to his buccaneering best under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But ankle ligament damage means he faces another spell on the side-lines.
It is hoped that Shaw will be back for next season. But United would be wise to strengthen a key area just in case there are further setbacks.
Williams has been a fine deputy and should have a huge future at United. But Ait-Nouri’s defensive stats are currently better.
While the United youngster is a blood-and-guts player, never afraid to put his body on the line, he has a tendency of jumping in, and needs to iron the mistakes out of his game.
Ait-Nouri averages 1.7 tackles per league game (compared to Williams’ 1.2) and 1.5 clearances (compared to 0.8 for the United youngster).
The reported United target also averages more interceptions and concedes less fouls than Williams in their respective leagues.
But there is also the prospect of what Ait-Nouri can do further forward. Both players have featured 17 times in their leagues this season. In that time, Williams has one goal and one assist, while the Frenchman has three assists to his name.
When you consider that, for all his brilliance this season, Shaw is yet to score or assist in the league, a more creative full-back would be a sensible addition to United’s squad.
Ait-Nouri has also been booked just three times, while Williams has six yellow cards in the Premier League and nine in all competitions.
Stats only paint part of the picture, but it is clear that the reported United target is the real deal. The fact that he could end up playing in red or blue speaks volumes for both his talent and his potential.
United are not standing still and will not want to lose a transfer battle to their city rivals.
In time, one of Williams or Ait-Nouri could even be used further forward, with both players adept on the wing.
Bigger names will arrive at United this summer. But a young Frenchman could be among the savviest additions if a deal can be struck.
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