Manchester United have two transfer windows to complete their dream midfield – Tyrone Marshall


It must be particularly galling to be a central midfielder in one of Europe’s elite leagues at the moment and not have been linked with a transfer to Manchester United.

Old Trafford officials have long known his name is used in vain in transfer windows, to drum up interest elsewhere or to force a hand in contract negotiations, but when it comes to midfield, the battle to separate truth from fiction has not been easy.

In what was a successful window last summer, it was the midfielders who continued to be linked with United as the clock ticked down to deadline day, despite insistence from those close to the situation that the deal was done. .

That lack of strengthening has proven costly and Ralf Rangnick has identified as the area he would like to have surgery on this month, but again it looks like United are keeping their wallet to themselves mid-season.

But from Saul Niguez to Amadou Haidara, Denis Zakaria to Frank Kessie, Boubacar Kamara to Yves Bissouma and Nico Barella to Marcelo Brozovic, every European midfielder has been linked with a move to United.

None of them will arrive before Monday. In fact, exits are more likely. Jesse Lingard could join Newcastle United on loan and Donny van de Beek could move to Crystal Palace.

It looks like United’s midfield is about to undergo a major change. Lingard will definitely leave this summer, as will Juan Mata. Both can play up front or contribute as eights. Paul Pogba is also expected to leave and the summer of 2023 could be the time for Nemanja Matic’s farewell.

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So a major signing in midfield is unlikely to be enough. It’s an area of ​​the pitch that needs more than a patch, so there’s no desire at Old Trafford to rush into short-term solutions this month.

Scott McTominay, Fred and Bruno Fernandes are present and future midfielders, but beyond that there is uncertainty. James Garner or Hannibal Mejbri could leave the academy. Van de Beek could still prove himself.

This summer the focus will be on signing an elite defensive midfielder. Declan Rice proved his credentials with an excellent display at Old Trafford on Saturday and while some fans would prefer to see money doled out, it’s quality not quantity that counts.

Rice might cost around £100m, but he appears to be headed for world-class status and, at 23, is a solution to keeping midfield for the long haul. He is used to the Premier League, has international football experience with England and has reached out to some of those Three Lions team-mates to get some insight into what daily life is like in Carrington.

Signing Rice this summer could mean United only make one major midfield signing, but could give them an option to complete their ideal midfield rebuild in 2023.

Assuming a new coach sticks with Rangnick’s 4-3-3 formation, then another No. 8 is probably ideal. United pushed desperately to sign Jude Bellingham 18 months ago and missing out on Borussia Dortmund is starting to look like a costly mistake.

The 18-year-old is in compelling form for the Bundesliga side and it’s a question of when he moves, rather than if. Dortmund are unlikely to want to lose Bellingham in the same window as Erling Haaland, so another year in Germany is likely for a player who benefits from regular exposure to competitive football at domestic and European level.

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If Bellingham’s trajectory of improvement continues, he could be in high demand if 2023 turns out to be the time for his departure to Dortmund. But United have laid the groundwork for him to sign in 2020 and should keep in close contact with the midfielder’s representatives.

There is an understandable desire for new faces to strengthen the midfield immediately. But if United can land players of the caliber of Rice and Bellingham in the next 18 months, patience will no doubt have been a virtue.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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