Although Manchester United have entered 2018 in second place, some way behind their neighbours Manchester City, not many fans or pundits alike can criticise how far Jose Mourinho has taken this current side. With two wins out of two this calendar year so far, United certainly looked to have cracked a current effective system with Paul Pogba playing in a more advanced role, something that fans have been demanding for weeks on end.
However, there are still some pieces missing from Mourinho’s puzzle, with fans demanding reinforcements this January transfer window. One position that has certainly been mentioned is the central midfield area, as following Marouane Fellaini’s persistent injuries and also Ander Herrera’s slight dip in form, fans have been speculating about a new partner to sit alongside Nemanja Matic, in this current 4-3-3 system. We have therefore evaluated three effective and realistic targets to fulfil this role.
Estimated cost: £85m
A name that many United fans have become accustom to across the last few weeks has undoubtedly been Lazio powerhouse, Milinković-Savić, with many outlets claiming that Mourinho remains a keen fan of the Serbian and is already working on a £85m deal to bring the midfielder to Old Trafford.
It is certainly of no surprise to see Savic being linked to United, with the all round midfielder possessing all the traits normally found, in a ‘Mourinho type midfielder.’ Standing at around 6’2, Savic is undoubtedly recognised for his bullish and aggressive style of play, flourishing in both his offensive and defensive duties. Whilst operating predominantly in the ever growing and effective position of a box to box midfielder, Savic is accustom to playing in Lazio’s narrow diamond midfield, where he is granted a license to bring the ball forward from deep, towards his supporting attacking midfielder.
At the age of just 22, Savic certainly looks a player who possesses all the right tools to develop into a world class midfielder and under Mourinho’s guidance, could become a force to be reckoned with in England. The speculated price of £85m is certainly not an overpricing of the young star, particularly when you undertake the current transfer market and fans should keep a close eye on the developments of this speculation.
Estimated cost: £60m
Another powerful midfielder that has also made quite the name for himself over the last year has certainly been Jean Seri, with the Ivorian turning heads across the whole of Europe, having strongly been linked with moves to Barcelona and also League rivals Liverpool.
There is of course no surprise to see Seri being linked with clubs of a higher pedigree to his current employers Nice, with the Ivorian consistently standing out for his side in the middle of the park. Seri is certainly a midfielder who is capable of operating in more than one area, as his versatility of being able to play as a holding midfielder or even as an advanced playmaker behind the lone striker, certainly makes him quite the unique player.
It is however Seri’s distributional skills that would make him an ideal fit alongside Nemanja Matic, as he would be able to quickly unlock the likes of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and of course Pogba, who are all granted freedom to roam around the final third of the pitch. Although United would face stern competition from other clubs, the Ivorian is certainly a midfielder in demand for a reason and is definitely worth the punt should Mourinho opt for a cheaper option to Savic.
Club: Manchester United (currently on loan at Valencia)
One wildcard option that could potentially provide the answer to United’s current midfield issues is perhaps a player of their own already, when Andreas Pereira returns from his loan deal from Valencia.
As oppose to both Savic and Seri, Pereira isn’t naturally a central midfielder but more of a no.10 or even a winger. However, in a midfield three, the Brazilian’s flair and dribbling assets could be utilised in making Pereira an effective tool alongside Pogba when going forward. In a system similar to Manchester City or Tottenham, United could look to replicate with Matic sitting and Pogba alongside Pereira filling the pockets in the final third, making the midfield a certainly offensive looking one.
Although this is certainly not a midfield that one would particularly associate with Mourinho, it is perhaps a system worth gambling on, particularly with Pereira not costing United a penny.