It is no secret that Manchester United are not the finished article yet. Although Louis van Gaal managed to turn the club’s fortunes around to a certain extent, the reality is that the team still lack a backbone, some ferocity and the required level of consistency.
The club invested heavily last summer but were seemingly focused on blockbuster signings such as Falcao and di Maria rather than addressing the elephant in the room, namely the holding midfield position. Recently, statistics were released that point to Michael Carrick’s importance at United. The team had a win ratio of around 72℅ with Carrick in the side and around 36℅ without. It could not be more obvious. The unfortunate thing is that at 33 years of age, one cannot expect Carrick to be fit all the time, as became evident this season.
Given United’s obvious need to reinforce the holding midfielder position, at Shots & Goals we stayed away from choices that have been discussed numerous times and looked at some rather unconventional options for the club from Trafford.
The Swiss international just finished Borussia Monchengladbach’s most successful season in more than 25 years. Xhaka was instrumental in Gladbach achieving direct qualification to the Champions League, helping the team to a defensive record of only 26 goals conceded, only second to Bayern’s 18.
The figures speak for themselves, as Xhaka boasts a pass success ratio of 85.3℅ and ratio of 54% when it comes to won tackles, significantly better than his counterparts at Bayern, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg. Given what United are missing, at 22 years of age, Xhaka seems to be the perfect package, although he recently extended his contract and will enjoy the prospect of playing Champions League football with Borussia next season.
At 18 years of age, many might think that a club of Manchester United’s stature might come too early. However, Tielemans already played Champions League football aged 16. Van Gaal’s great reputation with young players might make this midfielder the perfect signing and he might initially be able to operate as a high-quality back-up to Carrick.
An 18 year-old with 80+ senior appearances is a rare gem and this player is on the way to becoming one of the best midfielders in the game. Contracted at Belgian giants Anderlecht until 2020, this might be the perfect time to move up for Tielemans, who is known for his great passing skill and his advanced link-up play. Sounds like exactly what United need.
The young Turkish midfielder has been talked about a lot recently. It was claimed that Bayern Munich were ready to pounce and sign the 20 year-old from Bursaspor next season. A meteoric rise has seen the youngster being called up to the national team where he has already racked up 11 appearances; quite impressive for his age.
Tufan can also operate at right-back, which is an indication of his defensive ability. As United also struggle at right-back, the young Turk’s versatility might be what van Gaal is looking for. In addition to this, Tufan possesses some great long range shooting skills, as became evident against Denmark, when he scored a 90th-minute winner from long range. Still developing, the young Bursaspor prodigy has a great future ahead of himself and United could not go wrong based on raw talent.
In addition to the above mentioned players, the more conventional choices for the Red Devils might be the likes of Marco Verratti, Paul Pogba or Kevin Strootman, but stating the obvious may be a little boring.