Options to solve Manchester United’s midfield conundrum

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Davy Propper of Brighton and Hove Albion attempts to get past Nemanja Matic of Manchester United and Paul Pogba of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on November 25, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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Manchester United are in for another player to bolster their midfield options to free up Paul Pogba in attacking zones according to Duncan Castles for the Daily Record. Several names have been linked in recent months to fill up that void, as José Mourinho recognizes the problems a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3 formation can create. Injury problems have also hindered the team this season, and a midfield signing would be greatly welcomed at the club. Here are the best options Manchester United can go for, as they look to strengthen their side:

Sergej Milinković-Savić – Lazio

Perhaps the most sought-after midfielder in Europe this season, 22-year-old Sergej Milinković-Savić has been in astounding form for Lazio over the last 18 months. A key part behind their return to prominence under Simone Inzaghi, the 6-foot-4-inch midfielder would be the perfect fit for José Mourinho’s team due to his robustness in attack and astuteness in the middle of the field.

Milinković-Savić has been incredible since this season. In the Serie A this season (per 90), he has won the most aerial duels (2.8), taking advantage of his strong frame, completed the third-most number of tackles (2.1), the second-highest number of key passes (1.5) and the second-highest number of dribbles (1.8). Stats can be used to support the quality of a player, despite not telling the whole story. However, it must be noted that the current Manchester United midfield roster pales in comparison to Milinković-Savić. Thus, adding a player with such statistics would significantly bolster the team.

But there are problems to the deal. His fantastic form this season has made Lazio put a €100 million price tag on him. This could prove to be a stumbling block in the deal. In addition to that, his traits significantly clash with that of Paul Pogba. This means that either one of them would be restricted from fully being able to express themselves. Such an issue wouldn’t be a welcome problem for Mourinho, forcing several risky tactical tweaks. Nevertheless, a purchase, if handled properly, would be great for Manchester United.

Leon Goretzka – Schalke 04

Another strongly-chased midfielder, 22-year-old Leon Goretzka has been linked to Arsenal, Liverpool and Bayern Munich over the course of the season. Injuries have often hampered the German international, but he has been given a consistent run the team this season. Goretzka has arguably been Schalke’s best player this season, scoring four times in 11 appearances this season.

The advantage comes as Goretzka’s contract expires at the end of the current season, allowing clubs to approach him this month. A player that would perfectly accommodate in José Mourinho’s plans to play a 4-3-3 system, Goretzka is a fine reader of the game and an intelligent overall midfielder. He possesses a fine range of passing capable of opening defenses and his vision would be greatly welcomed at a club looking to enhance their creativity in midfield.

The box-to-box role is his future and he has proven that time and again for Germany and Schalke. Several are interested in his signature, and it is easy to see why. Still young and with bags of potential, he will provide the drive in midfield while also assurances in defensive aspects. Although he still requires some polishing, there is no doubt that he can make it at the highest level.

Jorginho – Napoli

A player with similar characteristics to Michael Carrick, Jorginho has been crucial in firing Napoli side to the top of Serie A this season. Being one of the finest passers in Europe, the 25-year-old Italy international makes linking defence with attack look effortlessly easy, and his presence in the Napoli team is important, although not significantly praised.

Jorginho averages 96.4 passes per game, completing 89.9% of them in Serie A this season, which is an exceptional record. He also averages around 1.3 key passes per game, which, once again, is something that is better than most midfielders on the Manchester United side. He isn’t as good defensively, which may be quite concerning for the club – despite improving immensely since last season. And although that isn’t his primary attribute, it is a trait Mourinho is in the hunt for.

The question is: would he suit Manchester United? His profile suggests no, as he isn’t that much of a presence in the defensive zones, which may deject Mourinho. Even Maurizio Sarri hasn’t put full faith in his defensive abilities, opting to go for the more assuring Amadou Diawara in major Champions League games. and that makes any deal unlikely. A great player, but perhaps not what is needed at this point.

Eric Dier – Tottenham Hotspur

A player that was strongly linked to Manchester United in the summer, Eric Dier will be a target once again. The problem with this deal is that he has played in the central defence for large parts of the season. His lack of presence in midfield could also result in Mourinho going against any deal for the player. Dier’s quality in the role mustn’t be doubted, however, for he has been influential to Mauricio Pochettino in midfield.

His signing may not exactly be what José Mourinho is looking for this season. Having signed Nemanja Matić in the summer, Mourinho signed the player he wanted to place in defensive midfield. He is likely looking for a box-to-box player in order to free up Paul Pogba. Dier would bring in more defensive astuteness, but he can’t solve the team’s frequent creativity problems, and a deal may not exactly work out for them.

Best of the rest

It is no secret that Manchester United have been chasing a midfielder for quite some time now. The links have even gone into the niche with of Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and Leander Dendoncker from Anderlecht. Both have shown their quality on the continental stage, and although they are two different types of players – Fred a box-to-box powerhouse, Dendoncker a defensive-minded midfielder – they have bags of potential to succeed at the highest level.

Other names also include Monaco’s Fabinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. The latter is arguably the most talented player and would tick many boxes of the ideal José Mourinho signing. Physically imposing, great distributor and a defensive genius, he would greatly strengthen this Manchester United side. Signing him wouldn’t be a surprise and he will perfectly accommodate himself in Mourinho’s teams. Fabinho, once again, a player similar to Nemanja Matić, would not be needed right now. However, he can remain as a possible candidate for the future, just like Eric Dier, due to their young age.

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