Ryan Gravenberch and Karim Adeyemi are just two of the under-the-radar wunderkinds Manchester United should target this summer.
While midfield is still a position of great importance for improvement, there is always the opportunity to get a hit that can flourish over several seasons rather than spending an astronomical amount of money on a quick fix.
In recent seasons, the Reds have spent a sum of money on various players and rarely reaped the rewards. During Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s splurge of recent years, several of the additions have not lived up to their expectations.
But with Ralf Rangnick heading for a consultant role at Old Trafford, the German could inject a transfer structure that has reaped the rewards for the Red Bull franchise with Leipzig and Salzburg benefiting from the likes of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in recent seasons. .
The latest data released by CIES has made it clear why United should aim for the next big thing, with their latest weekly release featuring the 100 players born in 2002 or later active in 31 European leagues outside the Big 5 with the Index. Highest InStat.
The index takes into account the production on the pitch of soccer players based on the position they play (central, winger, etc.) and the general level of the matches in which they have participated.
Here are three youngsters from outside the top five European leagues who are high on the CIES list that United should target.
Karim Adeyemi – RB Salzburg, 20
The 20-year-old has been in brilliant form for Salzburg and delivered eye-catching performances in the Champions League by booking his place in the Champions League round of 16 for the first time.
Adeyemi is following in the footsteps of the sought-after Erling Haaland, who blazed a similar trail in Salzburg with his formidable form in Europe.
His blistering pace, eye for goal, relentless pressure on opponents and versatility have seen him emerge on the radar of various teams on the continent.
United should be looking to lay the groundwork to seal a move for the Austrian before another European giant swoops in and snatches the next jewel.
Ryan Gravenberch – Ajax, 19
The Reds’ need for a midfielder is no secret and their search for additions is high on the list.
Ryan Gravenberch has become a key figure at club and international level at the tender age of 19 and could be seen as Paul Pogba’s replacement at the heart of the pitch.
With the player ceiling rising, interest is likely to follow in due course, with United’s rivals Liverpool already among those looking for ways to secure his signature.
A creative midfielder with an eye for goal and quality passing, Gravenberch is rapidly evolving into a modern midfielder capable of breaking down lines and taking advantage of space to dissect opposing defences.
With his contract due to expire next summer, there is likely to be a growing sense of nervousness in the Dutch capital as the 19-year-old’s shares will inevitably rise.
Sebastiano Esposito – Basel (on loan from Inter Milan), 19
With Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo in the twilight of their respective careers, a poacher like Esposito could be the attacker they need going forward.
The Reds have relied on youth in recent seasons with Anthony Elanga the latest academy graduate to bet on the first team.
Without a recognized striker since Anthony Martial’s loan departure to Sevilla, tying up the Italian for his formative and potentially better years could be the long-term answer.
Currently on loan in Switzerland with Basel, the 19-year-old has scored four goals in nine games, providing two assists in the first half of his time in the Super League.
And having made two appearances for Italy under-21s, it is clear that he is highly regarded in his native country.
Like Adeyemi, Esposito has a keen eye for goal and shows defenders a neat pair of heels with their runs split from behind, ideal for any high-stakes matchup situation.
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