Addressing the lack of creativity has to be the priority for Manchester United in January otherwise the season could be yet another write off.
United have had 33 shots on target so far this season, below the league average 34.7. Only Newcastle United (8) and Crystal Palace (6), two teams that Solskjaer’s side have already lost against this season, have created fewer big chances than the Red Devils (9).
There have been several injuries to deal with and the departures of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku were always going to have an impact, but United are paying the price for not signing a playmaker.
One man who is showing he is no one season wonder is Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech. Here are three reasons why Solskjaer should be demanding that Ed Woodward signs the Ajax star.
In 49 appearances in all competitions last season, the Moroccan international scored 21 times and conjured up a further 24 assists, that’s a staggering 45 goal contributions.
Somehow Ziyech is on track to better his contributions this season if he maintains his current rate. So far this season he is averaging a goal/assist in every game with 5 goals and 9 assists in 14 matches.
In his 145 games for Ajax, the 26-year-old has scored 45 times and set up a further 70 goals. Many expected Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong to move on, but Ajax surely would have seen it as a bonus to have been able to keep hold of Ziyech.
Solskjaer is clearly eager to build a British core and sees Jadon Sancho and James Maddison as long-term targets, but Ziyech has proven he possesses box office quality and would give the Red Devils a massive mid season lift.
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Loves the big stage
In the 2018/19 Champions League campaign, only Lionel Messi (9) created more big chances than Ziyech (8), and only his team David Neres won possession more times (21) than the Moroccan (17) in the final third.
Although his ability to carve out chances will stand out, Solskjaer would be equally impressed with his desire to win the ball back for his team, especially with the Norwegian trying to implement a pressing from the front approach.
His goal in this seasons Champions League away to Valencia highlighted the confidence and quality he has in abundance, he picked the ball up in the right-wing position and defenders backed off him, he smashed an unstoppable swerving and dipping shot into the far top corner.
United are missing that star quality player who has the capabilities to score a goal out of nothing, Ziyech similar to Arjen Robben has a wicked left foot, which forces defenders to either stand off and give him time or dive in recklessly.
The addition of Ziyech would give Solskjaer the opportunity to either play him wide right or in the number 10 role due to the Moroccan’s versatility.
Ziyech would probably be at his best in the attacking midfielder position, collecting the ball off the likes of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay and laying on chances for Solskjaer’s speedsters, Rashford, Martial and James.
In 166 games in the attacking midfielder role, Ziyech has 60 goals and 61 assists. Wide right he has produced 28 goals and 33 assists in 65 games. He has a real hunger to influence matches and United are in desperate need of some attacking flair.
In the Eredivisie this season, Ziyech is averaging 5.1 shots, 3.9 key passes and 2.1 dribbles per game.
United are not in a position to be resting on their laurels, they cannot afford to pass up opportunities to sign players of the quality of Ziyech. The question is can Woodward deliver and would Solskjaer approve, the fans certainly would.
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