The Peoples Person
·22. Mai 2023
The Peoples Person
·22. Mai 2023
Manchester United face a busy summer in difficult circumstances, with a lack of clarity over the club’s transfer budget owing to the takeover situation looming over Erik ten Hag’s rebuild. It is in times like these where opportunities must be sought out, and with Juventus facing a hearing over a the ‘Capital Gains’ scandal today, one may just have fallen on the lap of the Red Devils.
Juventus have endured a difficult campaign this season and a points deduction – which would almost certainly see them fail to secure Champions League qualification – is likely to see something of an exodus from Turin.
Here The Peoples Person assesses seven players who could be of value to Ten Hag.
If there is one type of player that Manchester United need above all others, it is a striker.
Dusan Vlahovic is the jewel in The Old Lady’s crown having been signed from Fiorentina for €81.6m in January 2022. He scored 24 Serie A goals last season, but has struggled for form and fitness this term, scoring just ten goals in 26 appearances.
But at only 23 years of age, Vlahovic has time on his side. He combines speed and strength with a wicked left foot, and could well recapture the performances that saw him earn his big money move in time.
The Serbian has plenty of potential, and if he were to work out he could transform United’s attack by adding some much-needed goal threat while providing a focal point for the side.
Juventus would be keen to see a return on their investment, however, and Vlahovic has absolutely not been playing like an €81.6m player for quite some time now. Should the situation in Turin leave them desperate to sell to the extent that a cut-price deal were on the table, the centre forward could be a decent solution for Ten Hag.
Adrien Rabiot was a summer transfer target for the Red Devils, but issues negotiating with the player’s mother/agent caused the deal to collapse shortly before the transfer deadline. His contract is set to expire at the end of the season and United have been linked with the player in recent weeks.
Man United strengthened their midfield by signing Casemiro from Real Madrid to go alongside free transfer Christian Eriksen last summer – a partnership that has shown signs of success at Old Trafford. But as the Red Devils’ fixture list became incredibly congested as the season has worn on, issues with fatigue have persisted.
United are a far worse side without the Denmark star in midfield, with the lack of ball progression from midfield in his absence leading to some ponderous performances, with notable struggles during Eriksen’s absence through injury.
Adding Rabiot could ease the burden on Eriksen. While the Frenchman often tends to progress the ball with his dribbling rather than his passing, his ability to break through the lines in midfield could add another string to this United side’s bow. He could almost be seen as a cheaper alternative to Frenkie de Jong in that regard.
Rabiot has been Juventus’ best player this season and his performances for both club and country are those of a far more mature player than the one who often ruffled feathers at Paris Saint-Germain. At 28, he could be a fine player for years to come under Ten Hag.
While Rabiot would provide the carries and dynamism, Manuel Locatelli is more of a of a traditional playmaker. Defensively assured and good in the air, the Italian is comfortable in shielding his defence and rarely ventures too far forward.
Locatelli is comfortable playing on the half-turn and assured in possession, which would be a huge benefit to a team that has had mixed results in playing out from the back. In Lisandro Martinez’s absence, United’s issues in doing so have been exacerbated, pointing to a need for a player or two able to help work the ball through the first two thirds of the pitch.
The style of play under Masssimiliano Allegri has limited Locatelli’s chances to shine, but during his time at Sassuolo – and to an extent under Maurizio Sarri – the Italy international has proven his creativity.
There are shades of Michael Carrick in his game, with his array of passing and defensive nous providing a good platform in midfield, and one could argue that such a player is exactly what Manchester United need right now.
Bolstering the Backline
The defender joined the Bianconeri for €41m last summer, amid interest from clubs around Europe. The Brazilian could fit in seamlessly at Old Trafford, with compatriots Casemiro, Fred, and Antony all ready to welcome him with open arms.
A natural defender, Bremer has been one of Juventus’ standout performers in difficult circumstances. He is known for putting his body on the line and frustrating opposing strikers to great effect with his excellent defensive awareness and physicality.
A pass completion of 90.6% is particularly impressive given his team’s transition-focused style of play, and would be a valuable asset to United’s attempts to build up play from the back.
As an added bonus, he is a real threat from indirect set pieces, scoring five goals from such situations so far this season.
Man United have been linked with several central defenders leading into the next transfer window, and while Bremer’s name has not come up, that could all change based on the outcome of today’s hearing.
Poaching a Prospect
Fabio Miretti, 19, has already established himself as a valuable member of Juventus’ first team, racking up 38 appearances in all competitions this season. The youngster has shone in the role Paul Pogba was signed to fill in the Bianconeri team, with the Frenchman struggling for fitness this term.
His eye for goal is yet to pay off for the senior side, but it is only a matter of time before that changes. Those who have followed his career in Juventus’ Under 23 side can attest to the threat he poses both from range and as he bursts into the box.
Miretti’s stats this season only confirm that potential. Among all midfielders across all of the ‘Big 5’ leagues in Europe, the Italian is in the top 5% for progressive passes received and the top 3% for touches in the opposition penalty area. (fbref)
Players can often see these stats inflated via aerial prowess and set piece threat, but that is not the case with Miretti – he just happens to be exceptional at finding and operating in pockets of space.
The teenager is a high-risk, high-reward style of player not dissimilar to Bruno Fernandes and could be the perfect understudy to the Portugal star, who himself developed his game in Italy.
Miretti is perhaps a player Juventus would expect to keep regardless of the outcome of the hearing against them, however. He has been a part of the setup in Turin for almost 12 years and idolises Pavel Nedved. But should he become available, United could benefit in bringing in an excellent prospect.
Wojciech Szczesny has been in Turin for six years and is reportedly facing an uncertain future, with an exit highly likely if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League. As one of the club’s biggest earners on around £211,000-a-week, The Old Lady are said to be willing to part ways with the 33-year-old.
At 33, the Poland star would come with plenty of experience, including several years in England with Arsenal in the early stages of his career.
David de Gea won the Golden Glove at the weekend by keeping his 17th clean sheet of the Premier League season. Nonetheless, he has come under fire for some high-profile errors and poor performances this season. Most troubling, however, has been his poor distribution and passive style of goalkeeping, which has affected the type of football Man United can comfortably play.
The trouble is, Szczesny is exactly the same type of keeper as De Gea. Both are comically poor at dealing with crosses despite their height and prefer to stay rooted to their line, while neither are much use in their team’s build-up, and lack the standard of passing that has become desirable in number ones.
Good shot-stoppers the pair, but neither offer what Ten Hag’s side are lacking in the position. And given Szczesny’s wages and skill set, it is fairly unlikely that United will look to him to strengthen their goalkeeping department unless all else fails. It is perhaps worth noting that the Polish keeper would count towards Man United’s home-grown quota, given his fledgling years at Arsenal, meaning a backup role on reduced terms could be something of a possibility.
Federico Chiesa was considered one of the biggest prospects in European football a couple of years ago, with his pace and dribbling ability making him a fearsome attacker. His penchant for finishing from tight angles has made plenty of goalkeepers look a little silly at both club level and on the international stage.
A haul of 13 goals and 10 assists in his first term with Juventus established his productivity in the 2020/2021 season, but his next campaign came with crushing disappointment. He suffered a cruciate ligament rupture halfway through the 2021/2022 season that saw he miss the best part of a year, only returning to action last November.
He has since had seven separate injuries and scored only a single goal during a 2-0 win over Freiburg in the Europa League.
Between that and a fractured relationship with Allegri, Chiesa has had a difficult spell at Juve. But at 25 years of age, the Italy star has time on his side to turn it around and re-establish himself as one of the finest wingers in world football.
Could he do it at Old Trafford? Maybe. But with Juventus reportedly still valuing Chiesa at €90m, the forward would be an incredibly expensive rehabilitation project. The Red Devils have rather a few of those on their books already.
The Juventus scandal provides a good chance to snap up a couple of players that might otherwise have been off the market entirely.
A number of valuations, such as the reported prices of Vlahovic and Chiesa, would need to come down significantly in order to make them attractive propositions for Man United. But with the Bianconeri facing a number of charges even past the Capital Gains hearing, it might only be a matter of time before that happens.
Rabiot seems the most likely to sign on the dotted line for Ten Hag as things stand, although – as with any of these players – availability will naturally lead to competition, meaning the club must prioritise players that will contribute most effectively at Old Trafford.
Time will tell how much value Ten Hag sees in the developing situation in Serie A, but if the manager sees an opportunity or two, the club must be quick to act.
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