The recent hullabaloo surrounding RB Leipzig star Naby Keita, who Ralf Rangnick ill-advisedly claimed was being swayed by ‘a whole village in Guinea,’ has meant that interest in another one of their players has gone a little under the radar. Emil Forsberg, who is arguably as big a talent as Kieta, has been a name linked to the Premier League for a short while now but a few days ago the papers began to talk about a possible move from Manchester United for the Swedish assist king.
With Manchester United apparently struggling to secure a move for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, The Mirror reported that they had begun to cast admiring glances over Forsberg.
While the Swedish star played down these links, Aftonbladet along with the Manchester Evening News and The Independent suggested that Mourinho still harbours at least some interest in the 25-year-old.
Even if he doesn’t move this summer, it seems unlikely that he will remain at RB in the long term, with the chance to impress in the Champions League this season it seems likely that he is destined for a more storied club. But what would Forsberg bring to United? And is he the kind of player that would be able to improve a squad that, as The Telegraph note, has already had around £145 million spent on it this summer?
One of his main qualities is his versatility. He can play on either wing as well as behind the striker, he is adaptable and very hard working regardless of where his manager places him. For RB this past season, he played both in a classic left midfield position as well as in a more advanced left-wing role for 8 games and 22 games more centrally, behind the striker. Mourinho has always liked players who can adapt to different game plans, and Forsberg fits that bill.
Perhaps the most important thing Forsberg can add to Manchester United is creativity. It’s all well and good splashing huge cash on a striker, as United did with Lukaku, but if he isn’t being given chances to score then, it doesn’t matter how good he is.
Forsberg broke the single season Bundesliga assists record last season, providing 19 in just 33 appearances. He is different in that respect to other midfielders in Manchester United’s squad.
New signing Nemanja Matic can provide defensive solidity, Pogba gives you box-to-box brilliance, and Herrera brings great passing ability. Forsberg is more creative than any of these players, and with Matic protecting the defence and Pogba linking attack and defence, Forsberg could slot in brilliantly.
He is arguably most similar to Juan Mata at Manchester United, who fulfils a similar playmaking role. However, Forsberg is more defensively adept making 1.77 interceptions per game and having a much higher total defence score than Mata in Squawka’s comparison matrix.
He would give Manchester United something they don’t have and would link up brilliantly with Pogba and Matic in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. His flexibility, creativity and work rate would definitely improve United.
Forsberg is an excellent talent, as evidenced by the fact he made the Bundesliga team of the season. He has progressed steadily from Sundsvall in northern Sweden to Swedish giants Malmo and now is a star in one of Europe’s top leagues. Manchester United are a huge club, but Forsberg is not a player fazed by a challenge.
He has taken the mantle left by Zlatan Ibrahimović and become the Swedish national team’s key player if Mourinho does decide to add Forsberg to his squad, Manchester United fans are likely to be wowed by a Swedish superstar for the second season running.