Manchester United have been linked with numerous midfielders throughout the summer transfer window, the addition of a new central midfielder viewed by many as the next step towards progress.
The signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have added quality in key areas, with midfield seen as the next area for improvement in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Having splashed out more than £110m on new additions so far this summer, the Red Devils are perhaps unable to invest huge sums in further signings, with the likes of Declan Rice and Wilfred Ndidi appearing out of reach financially at present.
With just a week left of the summer transfer window, we’ve decided to look at five attainable midfielders who would improve the club’s engine room.
Ruben Neves has been linked with an exit from Wolves this summer, with the club reportedly willing to cash in on the influential midfielder to fund their rebuild under Bruno Lage.
Neves has played an integral role in Wolves’ rise from the second tier into the Premier League, but at 24 appears ready for the next step and a transfer to a side playing Champions League football.
The Portugal international became the youngest Champions League captain (18 years, 221 days) during his time with Porto and has the right blend of experience, quality and further potential to improve the Manchester United midfield.
Last season saw Neves rank fifth in the Premier League for tackles won, whilst his averages for chances created (1.2) and interceptions (2.2) per 90 minutes ranked higher than Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic.
Neves has all the attributes each of that trio bring to the game defensively, though boasts a far more expansive passing range with his average of 6.5 successful long passes per game again ahead of the Red Devils’ current options in a defensive midfield role.
Yves Bissouma has attracted interest from the Premier League’s leading clubs during the current transfer window, with almost all of the division’s ‘big six’ linked at some stage with the Brighton midfielder.
Brighton are understood to be prepared to allow their top talent to leave should suitable offers arise, with a fee in the region of £40m having been speculated to be enough to prise the Mali international from the Amex Stadium.
Bissouma’s industrious all-action displays have made him a transfer target for sides seeking midfield presence and dynamism, ranking second in the Premier League for tackles won last season and seventh overall for interceptions.
Yves Bissouma made more tackles (5) and more interceptions (5) than any other player against Watford.
He was everywhere. 🌍 pic.twitter.com/PPgHC8Mu4E
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 21, 2021
No Manchester United midfielder bettered his averages for interceptions or tackles won per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, with Bissouma’s endless energy and ability to plug gaps offering the Red Devils the option of moving away from a two-man defensive axis at the base of the midfield.
Amongst the most highly-rated prospects in world football at present, Eduardo Camavinga looks set to leave Rennes after entering the final season of his deal with the Ligue 1 side.
The teenager burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old and has since won full international honours with France, becoming Les Bleus’ youngest debutant and goalscorer in more than a century in 2020.
Rennes – at risk of losing the player for free next summer – are understood to be demanding a fee in the region of €30m-€35m, a modest sum for a midfielder comfortable in multiple roles and boasting vast potential.
Camavinga has operated as a number six, eight and 10 since breaking into the Rennes side, and averaged more tackles per 90 minutes (3.7) than any of the Red Devils’ current options.
The problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is reported interest from both PSG and Real Madrid, though the latter’s restricted finances appear to make a deal unlikely.
Both PSG and United are likely to have to sell before funding further signings this summer, so much may depend on outgoings at both clubs as we enter the final days of the transfer window.
Another youngster making an impression in France’s top division, Aurelien Tchouameni has caught the eye of Europe’s elite following a breakthrough season with Monaco last term.
The 21-year-old was signed from Bordeaux for a fee of around £16m 18 months go and has grown into an influential figure at the principality club, being named as Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year for the 2020/21 campaign.
Tchouameni started 36 of the club’s 38 league fixtures as Monaco finished the campaign third to secure Champions League qualification, ranking second in the division for tackles and fourth for interceptions.
The youngster boasts physical stature and an ability to regain the ball prolifically, though would need time to adapt to the demands of the Premier League and as a lone holding midfielder, having operated primarily as part of a midfield two at Monaco.
A relative late bloomer, Joao Palhinha has taken an unorthodox route to prominence at Sporting Lisbon but starred as the Portuguese side were crowned champions for the first time in 19 years last season.
The 26-year-old spent the previous two seasons on loan at Braga, before returning to the Portuguese capital to play an influential role in Sporting’s title success, averaging 3.3 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 1.2 clearances per 90 minutes in 2020/21.
Palhinha’s performances saw him break into the Portugal national side earlier this year with the midfielder since accumulating six caps, with Tottenham having been linked with a move for the star during the current transfer window.
Palhinha provides a physical presence with his 6ft 3in frame and no player made more tackles in Portugal’s top flight last season, the midfielder a footballer happy to hover in front of the backline in an unassuming but effective role.