In the early weeks of the football transfer window, fans and pundits alike boldly declared that Manchester United won the transfer window, especially with the signings they made (Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund) and Raphel Varane (from Real Madrid). Transfer business by the Old Trafford club looks to have ended, but rumors are circulating that they are in for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves formerly of Porto. We take a look at the players who are as good as Neves.
United needed both Sancho and Varane to fill the gap created by departure of Marcus Rashford. Old Trafford chiefs looked to plug this gap last season by trying to prize away Dortmund winger Sancho from the Bundesliga and bring back the 21-year old to English shores.
The excitement from the outside world built up, but the transfer hype went cold and a deal didn’t happen, arguably to the frustration of United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This summer under the new stewardship of John Murtagh (director of football) and Darren Fletcher, Man United have been quick and decisive.
As impressive as he was last season, the criticism of the United squad was that they didn’t have an able partner for captain Harry Maguire, Man United hierarchy looked at this, this summer and swooped with decisiveness for French world cup winner and Real Madrid defender Rafael Varane.
The fact that they could attract the former Lensman was impressive, but the £34 million reportedly paid to Real was even better.
So two parts of the jigsaw were complete with those two signings. A striker was said to be on Ole’s Wish list, but The Red Devils preffered to offered a new deal to striker Edison Cavani.
The Reds were said to be in the market for a right-back, but with Atletico said to be reluctant to sell, Man United have decided they will keep Diogo Dalot who was on loan at AC Milan this season, at the club to fight for the right-back slot with Aaron Wan Bissaka.
The defensive midfielder is one key position and Manchester United direly needs to be address this. United do have Fred and Nemanja Matic at the club, but they need to freshen things up in that area.
Rubin Neves has tormented United in the past and did of course score a fabulous goal against Manchester United at Molineux a few seasons back. As good of a signing that he would be for Man United, we explore some other alternatives, just to ensure United don’t put all their eggs in one basket.
Inter Milan and Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic really benefitted from the appointment of maverick manager Antonio Conte for the 2020/2021 season. The 28-year old switched to a defensive midfield position and in 29 appearances scored 2 goals, created 6 assists, completed 89.6% pass success, and made 1.6 tackles per game.
Those stats make a very impressive reading. His passing completion may not be the best on the list but his combined goals and assists are. Long touted as a partner for Pogba, Man United should look to take advantage of the Neazzuri’s dire financial situation. On top of that, they do owe The Red Devils some money for the Romelu Lukaku deal.
An Inter stalwart after 6 years at the club, so would a deal be easy for the player to leave on an emotional level? Inter Milan are looking for liquidity and now’s the time to pounce surely. Come on John Murtagh, make a deal happen for the former Dinamo Zagreb man happen!
Frenkie De Jong
After an initial tough first season at the Nou Camp, former Ajax midfielder De Jong made 35 appearances in the 2020/2021 season and was largely impressive.
With 3 goals and 4 assists, stats-wise he has the lowest goals and assisted goals total, but the former Willem II youngster’s 91.9% pass completion is the best of the three defensive midfield players on our list, this would help Pogba get up the pitch.
The 1.2 tackles per game is arguably a bit low, on top of that the 24-year old won’t come cheap, especially since Barca paid a premium to prize him from the Johan Cryuff Arena.
Frenkie is as good as Ruben Neves. What could work in United’s favor is that The Catalans have affectively put their hold squad up for sale after it emerged that the club has over £1 billion of debt. Never say never, but Ronald Koeman has said he wants to build the team around Frenkie De Jong.
Wilfred Ndidi is the final player on our list. He has impressed immensely since joining Leicester from Belgian Pro League side Genk.
The 24-year old when signed had big shoes to fill in the form of Ngolo Kante, and he filled them admirably. The Nigerian international does have the advantage of playing and even settling well in the Premier League.
Wilfred Ndidi had impressive stats last season. In 25 appearances scored 1 goal and created 4 assists, with an 86.9 pass success.
Those stats might not be as good as De Jong’s, but with a monstrous 3.7 tackles per game. One major sticking point with this potential transfer would be the fee, as Leicester don’t need to sell, but maybe a Jesse Lingard plus cash deal could tempt Brendan Roger’s side?
All 3 players have their merits to fit into United’s midfield, of the 3 alternatives. Personally, I think Man United should go all out for Marcelo Brozovic, there are some beneficial factors United shouldn’t pass up. With such little time, however, it’s hard to look past Ruben Neves, the 24-year old former Porto man who offers some much-needed energy to that midfield.
Especially with the comments of Wolves manager Bruno Lage, that every player has a price, then United need to pay the price needed and get one step closer to Premier League glory if they don’t get Neves or any other of those defensive midfield players, mentioned another season of frustration awaits.