Slow acting Manchester United's chase for Tchouameni was over before it had even begun

Real Madrid are set to wrap up a move for Aurelien Tchouameni, for a staggering £85 million.

It’s a huge fee, one the young midfielder might be worth, and the statement move Real were looking for after missing out on Kylian Mbappe.

Real have just won the Champions League and their move for Tchouameni is an impressive sign of their ambition to continue their success.

With Eduardo Camavinga signed last year too, Real are building a new generation in midfield to seamlessly replace Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

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Manchester United’s chase for Tchouameni too slow

If only Manchester United planned this way. The club are still searching for a midfield replacement for Michael Carrick, who retired in 2019.

Midfield is a key area for United to address, especially this summer, with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic being released.

But it should have been tackled a lot sooner, especially in 2021. Last summer United ignored the position which needed fixing the most, defensive midfield.

We wrote last summer how Aurelien Tchouameni would be the ideal signing for the club, amid claims in The Transfer Window podcast that Manchester United were monitoring the Frenchman. That was as far as interest went.

Once the season and the transfer window close, United were reportedly impressed by his performances alongside Paul Pogba in the UEFA Nations League – and ‘stepped up interest’.

ESPN reported United had identified Tchouameni as a replacement for Paul Pogba, if a deal to re-sign the Frenchman was not struck.

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This is more case of poor planning from United, because it was clear and obvious last summer that Pogba was not going to re-sign, and the club should not have been still hanging onto this ambition as late as October, hamstringing activity by it.

Arguable even more of an issue, is that Tchouameni would have complemented Pogba rather than replacing him, and should have been bought anyway.

At this stage Tchouameni’s price tag was described as being between £45 million and £55 million.

By time it got to January, Manchester United were in a state of flux, with an interim manager in charge, and deciding not to sign any players whatsoever, regardless of circumstance.

The Athletic reported in January that Manchester United were continuing to monitor Tchouameni and would be prepared to rival Liverpool for his signature. News of Real Madrid’s interest was already circulating in Spain, by this point.

If there was a time to act, which wasn’t last summer, then January was Manchester United’s last and final chance.

By time we reached the end of this season, Manchester United were already out of the running, a result of a failure to achieve Champions League football after a terrible 2021/22 campaign.

A report in April via ESPN that Tchouameni was top of Erik ten Hag’s wishlist offered hope, too little too late. United’s chances of doing a deal were over before it had even begun.

This summer United never stood a chance of signing the Frenchman. But this wasn’t the case in January, nor last summer.

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Lessons must be learned

This is symbolic of Manchester United’s poor planning and mismanagement, which leaves the club entering the summer under new boss Erik ten Hag, with multiple fires to put out, with problems in attack, midfield, defence, and full-back. Even the goalkeeper situation is far from clear, but may have to be put on the backburner for now.

If United had signed Tchouameni last summer, this past season would not have been so painful, and United need to heed these lessons going forward.

The club must act on the team’s needs now, and buy players who are highly regarded with top potential, instead of waiting around. Real Madrid are decisively showing United how it should be done.

Another summer cannot go by without addressing the woeful midfield situation at the club. Tchouameni was ideal, but a better priced deal could be done elsewhere, with PSV’s Ibrahim Sangare one potential alternative.

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