It has been a very up and down summer transfer window for Manchester United and a very unusual one as well. United started the window great by securing their main target Jadon Sancho by the 1st of July for 73 million pounds and secured their second target Raphael Varane for 34 million pounds in one of the best bargains of the summer. Yet United has not addressed what might be their biggest priority which is the midfield.
Going into the summer many fans wanted United to address the midfield due to their dislike towards the Mctominay x Fred partnership in the pivot. The dream scenario for them is a defensive midfielder who can play with Pogba in a pivot or is good enough to be a lone holding midfielder to allow us to play a 433.
As we saw in the 5-1 win against Leeds United Manchester United has two of the best-attacking midfielders in the world in Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. They showcased their world-class ability with Pogba having 4 assists and Bruno Fernandes with a hat trick. It has been difficult for Ole at times to be able to fit both Bruno and Pogba together with both in attacking roles and yesterday was one of those times. It worked with Mcfred yesterday against Leeds but against bigger teams United better players in that role.
United have huge pressure on them this season with a title challenge and a trophy being the minimum for them this season. To be able to reach those goals Bruno and Pogba need to be able to be at their best and be together on the pitch dominating opponents.
United’s main challengers to the title have made huge upgrades to their team that put them one level ahead of United. United had closed that gap with Varane and Sancho but Chelsea and Man City have made big moves since then. City broke the Premier League transfer record for Jack Grealish for 100 million pounds and Chelsea addressed their main issue at striker by signing former United striker Romelu Lukaku for just under 100 million pounds. With those clubs improving further it is up to United to close that gap again with that extra midfielder.
To United’s credit, they have tried to address the issue but have had problems selling players. Some of the midfielders linked have been Eduardo Camavinga of Rennes, Ruben Neves of Wolves, Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid, and the main target Declan Rice. Rice has always been a pipe dream but the other 3 were the realistic targets for the summer.
The ideal player in my opinion among the three is Ruben Neves because he is a defensive midfielder that can screen the defense and is a deep-lying playmaker which fits our style of play the best. Neves breaking the lines with passes to our creators and striker in attack can lead us to score many more goals and even controlling games better which was one of our bigger issues.
Unfortunately for United, they have had issues selling Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira who are needed to be sold for United to buy a midfielder. With only 2 weeks left in the window, this looks unlikely to happen which can have a negative impact on United.
As shown in the 5-1 win this past weekend against Leeds, United can be one of the best-attacking teams in the world but there will be games where we will not be afforded that space and that is where we need a midfielder that can dictate from deep and break lines. If we are to play a high line which is looking likely with the signing of Varane we will need a midfielder that can screen.
Mctominay and Fred have their uses in this squad and yesterday were one of those games but if United are to be real title challengers and go deep in the Champions League that should be their ceiling.
An above-average defensive midfielder puts United as level as Chelsea and Manchester City in my opinion. There is squad depth, the starting 11 is nearly perfect it is just missing that one midfielder. Whether they get that midfielder will be the biggest question over the next 2 weeks. It is the difference between a 5-6/10 window to a 9-10/10 window and United being one of the top 5 best teams in Europe.