As the January transfer window draws to a close, it seems highly unlikely that Manchester United will sanction any transfers between now and the end of the month.
The club’s midfield department is an obvious area for improvement, but the Red Devils seem willing to wait until the summer before chasing targets rather than trying to negotiate difficult winter deals.
It’s a risky strategy, but with waiting until the end of the season, who could United target to bolster their strength in the middle of the park?
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Youri Tielemans is considered to be one of the best central midfielders in the country right now. He has tasted in the Premier League and also has experience playing in the biggest tournaments in Europe.
Crucially, the Belgian midfielder is out of contract in 2023. This summer, he will have 12 months left on his contract, which could force Leicester City to sell him for a reasonable price rather than lose him for free later on.
At just 24 years old, Tielemans is a very capable midfielder. He is versatile, adaptable and always available for selection, and his ability to move the ball forward into dangerous areas would help United’s cause while weakening a top-four contender.
Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Declan Rice is one of United’s top targets, and that’s hardly surprising when you acknowledge his evolution at West Ham United over the course of the last 18 months.
Rice has improved multiple aspects of his game under David Moyes, turning 23 just two weeks ago, which suggests he is likely to develop more in the years to come.
The Hammers vice-captain rarely misses a game, and he is English and homegrown, and those assets are becoming increasingly valuable given the long-term impact of Brexit on the transfer market.
Rice is prepared to operate as a holding midfielder, which is exactly what United need, especially considering that Nemanja Matic is now 33, and capable of covering wide open spaces.
However, his contract until 2025 coupled with his growing status in the Premier League could make his acquisition very expensive.
Aurelien Tchouameni (AS Monaco)
One reason clubs tend to avoid doing business in January is that the game’s most prized players are rarely allowed to leave in the middle of the season.
Aurelien Tchouameni is arguably AS Monaco’s biggest talent. His 22nd birthday was on Thursday and he is a regular starter for the French team, having appeared in all but three of his team’s last 60 Ligue 1 games since the start of last season.
Linked with Real Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea, Tchouameni would not be available in winter, but he is worth the wait.
The Frenchman is defensively elite and would present the wealth of attackers at Old Trafford with a platform to thrive. He’s used to playing midfield two in Monaco, and few of his teammates can compete with his 90-plus tackles and interceptions.
This summer, he has two years left on his contract, which could make him affordable at the right price.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.