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Manchester United: 3 shrewd buys

Posted: Aug 12, 2022

Manchester United. It is a drama that keeps giving. A club dishing out generous doses of extremely snackable content. And emanating news filled with headline material. Newspapers love this club. And so do the multiple online portals that are dependent on the functioning of this global behemoth. No day ever goes by unnoticed. No activity ever goes unpublished. And no movement ever goes unreported. Someone or the other is speaking about them. Consequently, Manchester United is either loved or hated. But one hardly ever ignores them.

And so the attention is back again on Manchester United's transfer activity. After the early season positivity, there is now cause for concern. The goalkeeping department looks short of options. The defence, albeit filled with options, failed to convince. Meanwhile, the a Fred McTominay double pivot turned out to be an open invitation to disappointment. Even the striker situation seems quite gloomy. Further, there are reports that Marcus Rashford is seeking a way out.

The early weeks of Erik Ten Hag's time has turned out to be quite the disaster. This was supposed to be a time to rebuild and consolidate.  On the contrary, Manchester United have now turned to the market in panic. And the primary contributing factor is the inability to close the Frenkie De Jong deal. Perhaps Barcelona's situation and consequent reaction are to blame for this. However, not closing targets on multiple fronts have meant United are in a soup.

Today, they are looking at the market to explore budget options. Reports are that the club is already in contact with Adrien Rabiot's camp. Moreover, a fee has also been agreed with Juventus, if rumours are true. Thus, barring Rabiot, here are three budget buys for Manchester United to explore.

Konrad Laimer - Manchester United midfield 

Manchester United Konrad LaimerThis one seems like a no-brained. And yet, there have been absolutely no links between player and club. Laimer, on the surface of things, offers a wonderful solution to Manchester United's perennial conundrum. Laimer is adept at playing the defensive midfielder role singularly. And he is also a very effective double pivot. Laimer has started in central midfield 133 times in his career and as a sole defensive midfielder, 51 times. He has 17 goals and 23 assists in these games.

These numbers are representative of Laimer's positive thinking and forward moving style of play. Erik Ten Hag has a similar philosophy, wherein he likes to play forward passes. Laimer's assists numbers, especially from his double pivot role (18 in 133 games) shows that he possess a very good passing range.

Laimer is also very good at playing in high pressing systems, another tick to Ten Hag's system. In Germany, he is known as the "ball hunter" due to his relentless pursuit of winning back possession. Laimer may even surprise oppositions by making a couple of aggressive runs. Although, this quality may not be what United need at the moment. However, his remaining abilities could heavily benefit the Old Trafford club who is looking for a destroyer who can progress play.

Moreover, Laimer's contract runs out next year and the player has expressed his desire for a new challenge. Reports suggest that even Bayern Munich were interested in the player. Laimer will not cost much and is a definite upgrade in the defensive midfield position. Further, at just 25, he has his best years left ahead of him.

Even if United do sign Rabiot, acquiring Laimer will be a shrewd and correct move for the club.

Jonathan David - Manchester United striker

Manchester United Jonathan DavidCristiano Ronaldo's entourage has made it clear through their activities that the player is intent on leaving the club. Manchester United sold Edinson Cavani. Mason Greenwood is still embroiled in an ongoing investigation. Consequently, Anthony Martial remains the only stable option for Ten Hag in the number 9 position. And even he was intent on finding different pastures six months ago.

Furthering Ten Hag's problems are reports linking Marcus Rashford to PSG. Thus, it will be wise for United to make a move for a striker this summer. Erling Haaland, Darwin Nunez, Gianluca Scamacca, Robert Lewandowski and Paulo Dybala have all found new clubs. Hence, not many centre forwards are available. Among those available is the young Jonathan David.

Jonathan David has impressed for Lille in Ligue 1 and played a pivotal role in the shock title triumph of the club in 2020/21. The Canadian is a versatile option who can play across the front three and is extremely clever with his movement. In fact, despite playing as an attacking midfielder prior to his Lille move, his movements smack of a top striker. The youngster has the knack of making deceptive runs and with his clever movement, creates space for himself. He also has pace to burn, which means he can easily move away from defenders once he steals a march.

David also is a great anticipator of delivery into the box. And his pace makes him lethal during breaks.

Despite being a good goalscorer, there are areas to his game that requires upgradation. David is not the best passer of the ball, with only 81% accuracy and his successful take-on rate is below 40% too. However, a good manager with the correct system will bring the best out of a fine young talent. Manchester United should snap him up!

Hakim Ziyech - Manchester United attacker

Hakim Zieych Erik Ten HagRemember Real Madrid vs Ajax from that bewilderingly incredible Champions League season of 2018/19? The one where Real Madrid were outplayed at the Bernabeu? And the men from Amsterdam led by Erik Ten Hag were playing champagne football in the home of the three-time consecutive champions!

Hakim Ziyech was very much a part of that band of brothers who took Europe by storm. The right winger in Ten Hag's system dazzled so bright that Chelsea would not wait for the next season to end before they snapped him up. He made an immediate impact with the Blues too. Scoring against Manchester City in Thomas Tuchel's first few games in winning causes. Things since, however, have fallen off the rail for the Moroccan international. And now, he reportedly wants a new challenge.

AC Milan has been heavily linked with the player. However, there seems to be a gap in valuation. Ziyech, frustrated with lack of game time at Stamford Bridge, has supposedly spoken with his lawyer to find solutions. And a reunion with Ten Hag - with whom he shared such a successful bond - may present a win-win solution. For Manchester United and Ziyech, of course.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will remain wary of a move to rivals. Despite United not being close to Chelsea in terms of squad evolution, the club may not fancy selling one of its asset within their domestic league.

For United, though, Ziyech is an interesting solution. He is not versatile but Ten Hag knows his strengths and how to unlock them. His arrival gives more options and is a safety net in case Rashford departs. Ziyech's arrival also gives license to start Sancho on the left, a position he excelled more for Dortmund.

Ziyech to Manchester United looks unlikely but could be a smart move.