Three things that will ‘definitely happen’ if Manchester United sign a defensive midfielder: Omar Garrick


Manchester United are in desperate need of a new central defensive midfielder, but there have been no signs that one is coming any time soon.

The MEN understand that United are unlikely to make additional signings in the January transfer window and are instead shortlisting options for the summer.

There have been a lot of names that have been mentioned. The likes of Declan Rice, Boubacar Kamara and Aurelien Tchouameni have all been targeted with moves to Old Trafford, but who the club is going to remains a mystery.

Considering all the roster problems Ralf Rangnick has had to contend with, would a defensive midfielder make as significant a change as everyone expects?

This got us thinking, so our United in my mind The writer, Omar Garrick, has listed three things that will “definitely happen” if Manchester United sign a defensive midfielder.

1. Balance

If you look at the United team, they have improved in recent weeks, but there is still a big gap that needs to be addressed.

Fred and Scott McTominay have certainly impressed in recent games; however, it still feels like there is no connection between defense and offense.

This is mainly due to some of United’s midfielders not being able to pass the ball fast enough through the midfield to the attacking players.

Should a defensive midfielder come in, they excel at playing transition and being successful on turnovers. If you look at players like Kamara or Tchouameni, they are both brilliant at making progressive passes. According to, Kamara averages 4.64 progressive passes per 90, while Tchouameni averages 6.09, more than Fred (4.47) and McTominay (4.20).

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If a defensive midfielder comes in, United will be better on the counterattack, play quicker passes forward and be much more comfortable in possession.

2. Better creativity from midfield

One of the United team’s problems is the lack of creativity in midfield.

Fred and Scott McTominay have contributed more in recent weeks, but that’s because they’re better at advancing than defending. They haven’t been able to fully display their offensive traits in recent years because there is a responsibility to help on defense.

McTominay has shown his offensive chops recently, which underscores why he’s a box-to-box midfielder rather than a number six.

Manchester United's Fred and Scott McTominay run out to warm up before the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on May 2, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  Sports stadia across the UK remain under tight restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic as government social distancing laws ban fans from entering venues, resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
A CDM alongside McTominay or Fred could make them even better (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

A defensive midfielder alongside McTominay or Fred would give them license to bomb forward and join in attacking opportunities.

3. It will help implement a compelling philosophy

Whether it’s Ralf Rangnick or Manchester United’s next manager (presumably Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag), all the names linked to the permanent position play in a compelling style.

When Rangnick was first announced as United’s caretaker manager, everyone expected him to implement his ‘gegenpressing’ philosophy immediately. However, some of the players in their squad can’t quite impose that on their performances, so a defensive midfielder is needed.

If you look at United’s team pressure stats compared to Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s lower.

Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester United! That’s why we’ve decided to complement our extensive coverage of United on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform aimed specifically at United fans: United in my mind.

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Writers and presenters who share their passion for the red side of Manchester will produce written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands and in the press box.

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United average a successful pressure percentile of 29.7 per 90, while Manchester City is 31.4, Liverpool is 32.6 and Chelsea is 30.6. What United’s competitors have compared to them is a solid holding midfielder. City have Rodri, Liverpool have Fabinho and Chelsea have N’Golo Kante.

These teams are more effective in their pressing because a holding midfielder can cover a lot of distance in most of the midfield. At the moment, Fred and McTominay occupy only one side of the middle, not all of it.

A defensive midfielder at Old Trafford would help, ensuring the team presses more efficiently from midfield. That is why a number six must come to the club immediately.

Should United sign a defensive midfielder? Follow our writer United On My Mind omar garrick on Twitter to join in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.


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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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