Manchester United’s task this summer will be to catch Manchester City.

One way to do this, is to try and stop City getting stronger, and going after their transfer targets.

United have had mixed success here before, beating City to Fred, Harry Maguire, and Alexis Sanchez. The latter was an outright failure, while the other two remain key starters for United even if they divide opinion.

City’s latest reported target, according to Fabrizio Romano, is Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

The former AC Milan midfielder is regarded as one of Europe’s most sought after players. Calciomercato report Juventus and Real Madrid are both keen.

FC Crotone  v US Sassuolo - Serie A
(Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)

United have a need

Locatelli could become United’s replacement for Nemanja Matic. He is a more progressive player with his passing style, and could be just what United need.

The 23-year-old is a deep lying playmaker who has completed more passes this season (1,817) than any player in Serie A this season [BeIN Sports].

When you watch United’s recent games against Chelsea and Palace, it’s clear United lack a midfielder capable of dictating games, and this is one of the reasons the team struggle in the final third.

Despite his deep role, Locatelli still creates an average of 1.1 chances created per game. Nemanja Matic averages 0.5, Fred 0.8 and Scott McTominay 0.6.

While United have James Garner coming through, Locatelli at 23 would be more ‘ready now’ than the promising teenager.

 

Locatelli has recently broken into the Italian national team and could be one of the breakout stars of Euro 2021.

The Mail tipped Locatelli’s price in January as around £30 million, so United would have to act swiftly.

Sassuolo boss Roberto di Zerbi spoke highly of Locatelli earlier this season, quoted by Football Italia: “He’s a great talent, one who sees the play before anyone else. I don’t think people have yet realised just how good Locatelli is and I feel a midfielder like that comes along very rarely in Italy.”

Should be a priority

Defence, striker, right wing; they are all areas of need for United this summer. But replacing Nemanja Matic has to be a big priority.

If Paul Pogba forces an exit, then strengthening the midfield becomes absolutely essential.

Manuel Locatelli of Us Sassuolo  in action during the Serie
(Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)

City are targeting Locatelli for a reason, and United should take notice.

He is a player who can change United’s style for the better and help to close the gap at the top.

If Pogba were to stay, a three-man midfield of Locatelli, Pogba and Fernandes could be outstanding, and still leave plenty in reserve.

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