Manchester United are a side needing an injection of pace and tempo in their passing, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to give his midfield department a major makeover and target quality signings.
The Red Devils have looked worryingly ponderous in possession in the opening stages of the season, and seemingly clueless when coming up against compact defences.
Since taking over at United, Solskjaer has allowed Marouane Fellaini to depart to China, lost Ander Herrera to Paris Saint Germain, and witnessed a significant drop in Nemanja Matics’ performance levels. There is also the constant uncertainty surrounding the future of Paul Pogba.
Here is a look at five midfielders United should consider signing to shake it up…
The 21-year-old has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects to come through the French ranks, and all of the top European clubs will be ready to strike, if he decides to move on from Lyon.
So far this season, Aouar is averaging winning possession five times per game, 2.3 dribbles, 1.5 key passes and 0.5 goals/assists. He has one goal and two assists in six Ligue 1 games.
The Frenchman is yet to make his senior national team debut, but it would be no surprise to the footballing world if he was called up by Didier Deschamps for the Euros, had a breakout tournament and secured a big money move next summer.
The creative playmaker would bring a zest and spark to United’s passing, but Solskjaer may have to move fast, with a certain Pep Guardiola previously making it known that he is an admirer of Aouar’s technical talents, United cannot ill afford to let the likes of Aouar slip through their grasp.
United saw first hand the talent Neves possesses in the second game of the season when he produced one of his trademark long-range strikes to bring the scores level.
The 22-year-old has the ability to control games through his short and long passing range, but he is also capable of pressing the opposition and hassling them whilst in possession. He is the all action type of midfielder that would reinvigorate a stale United midfield.
The Portuguese international captained Wolves for the first time against Reading in the Carabao Cup, and he is a key part of the journey Nuno Espirito Santo wants to embark on.
However, if Wolves’ domestic form continues to suffer due to the rigours of the Europa League, perhaps Neves could seek a new challenge.
Donny van de Beek
Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt were the blockbuster names that were on everyone’s lips when Ajax embarked on a dream Champions League run last season, but it was van de Beek the unsung hero of the side who surprisingly didn’t get a big money move.
The Dutch midfielder scored 17 goals and got 14 assists in 57 games across all competitions last season, he has also started this season in a similar vein with two goals and three assists in five Eredivisie games. He is averaging 1.8 key passes per game.
The 22-year-old’s guile and desire to influence matches are characteristics that the current Manchester United side is desperately craving. United need players that can get them back to their former glory, the purchase of the Ajax academy star, van de Beek could be a shrewd piece of business.
What a start it has been to life at Inter Milan for Sensi, Antonio Conte’s side sit top of the Serie A table with a 100% record, and for all there big summer signings, it is the little Italian Sensi who is spearheading their title charge.
The 24-year-old has two goals and three assists in the first five matches of the season, he is also averaging 51 passes, 2.6 shots and 2.2 key passes per game, which highlights his willingness to get on the ball and be the teams creative maestro.
The Italian international who stands at 5-foot-6 isn’t afraid to do the dirty work either, he is currently averaging 1.6 tackles, 0.8 interceptions and 1.4 fouls per game.
If Solskjaer has visions of United becoming a technical side that can hurt opposing teams through different styles, not just relying on raw pace, having the Italian at the heart of his midfield would be a great fit for the philosophy.
It is clear that Solskjaer is targeting young British talent to be at the heart of the rebuild at United, Sean Longstaff or Declan Rice could be the English midfielders he wants long-term, but should the Norwegian explore a different homegrown option?
Lewis Cook has recently returned to action at Bournemouth after a nine month absence due to a cruciate knee ligament rupture, and will no doubt be targeting a recall in Gareth Southgate’s England squad ahead of next summers Euros and build on the solitary cap he got last year.
The 22-year-old is composed with the ball at his feet, can carry the ball out of defence into attack with ease and showcases an ability to control the tempo of the game, everything United are lacking right now.
It could prove tricky to convince the Leeds United academy graduate to turn his back on his boyhood club and join their fierce rivals, but the man who became the first England captain to lift a world trophy since Bobby Moore after the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup success would be a signing that would instil quality, energy and hunger.
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