With Manchester United finding new signings hard to come by, we highlight three ideal midfield additions to the current squad.
Manchester United have endured a relatively frustrating transfer window to date, and during Friday’s press conference, manager Luis van Gaal publicly expressed his concerns about the state of his current squad.
It is understood that funds have been in place for an extensive period of spending, but United’s only additions so far came in June when Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera joined the club.
United have reportedly been negotiating with Real Madrid about a possible deal for Angel di Maria as well as trying to sign Sporting Lisbon’s left-back Marcos Rojo but, thus far, the club has been unable to reach a deal with each player’s respective clubs...assuming the reports are true.
There is no doubt United's squad still needs strengthening, and while defence is a problem, so is the current situation in midfield.
Amid growing frustrations surrounding transfers for big name players, I highlight three talents that prove just as well suited, but perhaps slightly more realistic additions, to solve the club’s current deficiencies.
With the Red Devil’s pursuit of Arutro Vidal seeminbgly going nowhere, van Gaal may look elsewhere for a player to add bite to the Manchester United midfield.
Step up, West Bromwich Albion’s Claudio Yacob.
Yacob is a proven Premier League talent, who has regularly displayed his quality in a deep-lying midfield position for the Baggies. His positional sense, purpose and stamina make him a very effective defensive shield, whilst technically he is sound.
Playing at his best in a deep-lying role, sitting just in-front of the back-four, he is adept at distributing either through short lateral passes or vertical through balls. He registered an 87% pass success rate throughout the 2013/14 campaign.
|Team||Pos||Apps||Mins||Total Pass /App||Pass Succ (%)||Tackles/ App||Intercept /App||Clear /App||Block /App|
|Claudio Yacob||West Brom||MF||27||1,843||35.22||87.17||3.11||1.70||1.85||0.41|
Furthermore, having won more tackles per match than any other top flight player, his defensive capabilities are unmatched. The West Brom-man weighed in with an average of 3.8 successful challenges in each of his 27 appearances last term.
|Match||Matchday||Mins||Passes||Pass Acc (%)||Tackles||Interceptions|
|Claudio Yacob||West Brom vs Arsenal||07||90||50.00||88.00||5.00||3.00|
He was tremendous during his side’s 1-1 home draw with Arsenal – with the Gunners at the height of their form - in October, winning five of six tackles, whilst completing three interceptions and 88% of his attempted passes.
Slotting in beside Ander Herrera, Yacob would offer the perfect balance to the Manchester United midfield. Van Gaal clearly recognizes the need for a combative player in the centre of the park and the Argentine is the ideal man for the job.
Luiz Gustavo is another option for van Gaal to consider in central midfield. The Dutchman is said to be a fan of the 27-year-old, as he looks to build his new-look side ahead of the new league campaign.
He proved a stand-out performer throughout his nation’s ill-fated home World Cup campaign, and has won many admirers following his displays in Germany for Wolfsburg. The former Bayern Munich-man left the Bundesliga champions at the start of last season and his form since has attracted some of the heavyweights in European football.
|Team||Pos||Apps||Mins||Total Pass /App||Pass Succ (%)||Tackles /App||Intercept /App||Clear /App|
Gustavo recorded an outstanding 91% pass accuracy throughout his involvement in Brazil, whilst averaging seven defensive actions in each appearance. He completed more interceptions than any other midfielder during the tournament, offering tremendous protection to his nation’s somewhat shaky back-four.
The Brazilian’s presence, whilst posing a positive influence on the Red Devil’s defence, would give the club’s attacking player’s complete freedom. His defensive prowess will prove integral to giving the likes of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, and Robin van Persie liberty to roam.
He is an expert a breaking down and recycling possession, with an astute eye for a through ball or a more simply pass. His ability to play either short, or longer out to the wings or forwards, would allow United to push forward quicker when needed – similar to the counter-attacking style of play we witnessed with Van Gaal’s Holland.
His ability to both put in a tackle – he averaged 3.4 challenges per match for Wolfsburg last season - as well as his capability to read the game both mean that Herrera will be given much more creative freedom, allowing him to orchestrate attacks and fashion chances for the club’s forwards.
Manchester United rarely threatened from the flanks last season, and thus far, van Gaal has failed to address this issue with his transfer spending.
Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia managed just two strikes apiece in the previous campaign, while Nani and Wilfried Zaha failed to hit the back of the net. The quartet set-up only four goals between them.
|Antonio Valencia||Man Utd||MF||29||1,940||2||3|
|Ashley Young||Man Utd||MF||20||1,030||2||1|
|Wilfried Zaha||Man Utd||MF||2||28||0||0|
A more obvious choice than Yacob and Gustavo, Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado is a man who has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer, and if recent reports are to be believed, he could edging ever nearer to a switch.
The 26-year-old has been left out of the Fiorentina squad to face Real Madrid on Saturday, heightening speculation that he is set for to quit the Serie A club.
Cuadrado plays mainly as a winger. However, his combination of dribbling ability, pace and understanding of the game allows him to be used in multiple positions.
Having started his career as a striker, he possesses a clinical eye for goal. He netted on 11 occasions last term, providing a further five assists. He offers a clear end product, unlike many other wingers
His adaptability will also make him an extremely attractive prospect for Van Gaal. He could be utilised as a wing-back in a 5-3-2 system, as a typical winger in a conventional 4-4-2, or as a more advanced forward in a 4-3-3.
|Dribbles won||Dribble Succ (%)||Pass Succ (%)||Fouls won|
The Colombian weaves through opponents with ease and very few players come out on top when challenging him. He completed the fifth highest number of dribbles of any midfielder in Europe throughout the previous campaign, making a mockery of 118 players in total. He also suffered more fouls than any other player (114).
He could be a deadly force at Old Trafford, restoring a threat a creative impetus lost with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.