|Image from Daily Express|
With the January transfer window closed, we can assess the squad and see what improvements are needed in the summer to help develop and perform better next season. One of the main positions we need to sign in the summer is an attacking midfielder as one of the main problems this season has been creativity from the midfield. This means that it is imperative that we are able to sign an attacking midfielder who can contribute to chance creation and get some goals and assists. While Manchester United have added Bruno Fernandes to the ranks, one creative midfielder is not enough if United are to adapt and grow into a title-challenging side, especially if Jesse Lingard and/or Paul Pogba leave the club. In this article, I have picked out several players that are likely to be targets for Manchester United in the summer, according to links in the media and our new look transfer policy since Solskjaer took charge.
The first player I will be taking a look at is current Aston Villa midfielder and captain, Jack Grealish. At the age of 24, Grealish is having an excellent season this campaign, in 26 appearances he has 9 goals and 5 assists. These stats are impressive in their own right, but more impressive when you knowing that he has been doing this in a struggling Aston Villa team. Other impressive stats, when looking at Grealish, are the fact he performs 2.2 shots per game, 2.7 key passes per game and 2.4 dribbles per game (whoscored.com). This shows us that Grealish is definitely an attacking and creative threat in games, perfect for what Manchester United are looking for. The main weakness of Grealish’s game is his defensive contribution, this means that he is unlikely to press from the front like Solskjaer likes his forwards to do.
Other player we can look at as an option for Manchester United in the summer, is 23-year-old Leicester midfielder James Maddison. Similarly, to Grealish, James Maddison has had a great campaign this season as well. Leicester have been excellent this season and it has shown in their league position, a huge contributing factor to this success has been the performances of James Maddison. In 29 appearances this season, Maddison has contributed 9 goals and 3 assists. In this respect is that’s a very similar to that of Jack Grealish’s, showing that the both be good options for Manchester United to be looking at. When looking at the other stats, they are both similar again as Maddison 2.4 shots, 2.6 key passes and 1.7 dribbles per game (whoscored.com). Maddison’s main strengths are his set piece ability, his ability to create, his crossing and his long shot taking. However, his main weaknesses are similar to Grealish as it is his defensive contribution from the front and his aerial ability.
Though I think Grealish and Maddison will be our main targets in the summer, another option to go for Manchester United is 21-year-old Norwich midfielder, Todd Cantwell. Cantwell is in his breakout Premier League season and is impressing, he doesn’t yet have the quality of Grealish or Maddison, however he is younger than both player and has plenty of time to grow and develop into an excellent Premier League player. This season, Cantwell has performed very well for a struggling Norwich team, in 26 games for them he has scored 6 goals and got 2 assists. These stats are impressive giving how young he is and how poor his Norwich team have performed this season. Again, his other attacking stats are very impressive given these factors as well, Cantwell takes 1.4 shots, 1 key pass and 1.4 dribbles per game (whoscored.com). This shows us that his strengths are mainly his passing and forward play. In contrast to both Grealish and Maddison, Cantwell is a more combative player who can defend and press from the front, shown by 1.2 tackles and 0.7 inceptions per game.
A more of a wildcard option of an attacking midfielder Manchester United could look at is 20-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz. Kai Havertz had an amazing breakout campaign in the Bundesliga last season, which brought attention from many top clubs. This season has been more of a struggle for him, but he is still young and is still a quality player who Manchester United should definitely be looking at. In 25 games this season, Havertz has scored 5 goals and got 2 assists. These stats don’t show the full picture however, as Havertz is an excellent dribbler and passer of the ball and really contributes to the attacking play of Bayer Leverkusen. This is shown by his 1.6 shots, 2 key passes and 2 dribbles per game this season (whoscored.com). This shows that Havertz is a well-rounded attacker who can pass and progress the ball well into the final third. Havertz’s main weakness are once again his defensive contribution and pressing from the front. Which once again, means he might struggle to adapt to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s system and frontline press.
Overall, I believe the player Manchester United to sign as our new attacking midfielder in the summer is Jack Grealish. This is because not only will he bring great attacking contribution through goals and assists, but he will also bring leadership and flair not many of the other options could bring.