With just under a month to go until the transfer window opens up for its mid-season appearance, Manchester United will be active in bringing in new faces to Old Trafford.
The season has, so far, not gone to plan, as they currently languish in 11th place, a point behind Crystal Palace and eight from fourth-place Chelsea. Hopes and aspirations of a Champions League position come May 2020 now appear far away with the season ticking on.
A priority position to strengthen for Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be his midfield, which looks feeble and weak when coming up against teams that have quick transitions. The absence of Paul Pogba since the end of September has not eased matters, but even so, the failure to replace both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera has been detrimental.
Ideally, the Red Devils want and need a player like Leicester City’s James Maddison. But for all intents and purposes, the Foxes are not going to be easy negotiators, especially halfway through the season when they are in second and the possibility of top-tier European football is more than realistic.
All season, Man United have lacked a midfielder that can pick defences and thread cute passes in between the lines. Fred and Andreas Pereira having taken up the more advanced roles in midfield, but neither have had the success on a regular basis that is needed to threaten teams week in, week out.
There are a lack of world-class midfielders that would want to come to Old Trafford for anything but a pay cheque, and so the market that is accessible for the Red Devils becomes increasingly small.
Emre Can is a name that has been touted around the Premier League once more ahead of January due to his lack of minutes under Maurizio Sarri at Juventus, but there will, rightly, be some reservations over the German international’s potential arrival, mainly due to being a stop-gap filler as well as a player who has been registered with Liverpool.
It is known that Solskjær wants an experienced centre forward that can hold play up and be versatile in his positioning on the pitch. The Red Devils tried to secure a late deal for Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic but ran out of time in the end. Their interest remains in the Croatian, even if, like his team-mate Can, his minutes have been shelved.
Mandzukic would offer a more rounded approach to the club than Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as giving them invaluable advice on and off the pitch. Mandzukic is an extremely hard-working individual that has thrived off the bigger moments: such as his performance for his country against England in the World Cup semi-final.
The centre forward has 18 months left on his contract, but the Bianconeri will do business on him for around £10 million. He might be 33-years-old, but the wealth of experience and positional flexibility he could bring would be a welcome sight.
A lot can change in football in the second half of the season, but one thing is for certain and that is Manchester United need reinforcements.
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