Manchester United’s big decision – Who should replace Paul Pogba?

It looks inevitable that Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba is on his way out of the club. Once again the Frenchman’s controversial agent Mino Raiola has been in the headlines once again, declaring that his client will no longer be at Manchester United:

(Pogba) is unhappy at Man Utd, he can’t manage to express himself like he wants to… He needs to change team

It is unclear if this is a tactic for Pogba to get a new contract – while also getting an agent bonus fee –  or that Raiola wants his client to be winning titles.

Many Manchester united players in the past have been represented by Mino Raiola – Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku – but have never been in the media as much as Paul Pogba. It looks like Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjær is going to have to recruit a new midfielder for next season, but who are the likely candidates?

Saúl Ñíguez

Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl has been linked to a move to ‘The Red Devils’ for the last couple of seasons with United repeatedly trying to bolster their options in midfield. Even José Mourinho reportedly wanting to add Saúl to his squad back in 2018.

Saúl’s most noticeable attribute is retaining and keeping possession of the ball, an attribute that may benefit Ole Gunnar Solskjær as many goals conceded by Manchester United so far this season a result from losing possession in midfield.

It is likely that Atlético Madrid will demand a high fee for their Spanish sensation as Diego Simeone will find it hard to replace Saúl as he is adaptable in his preferred 4-4-2 formation which provides him fluidity in counter attacking situations. Saúl can play in the middle in this set up, creating chances in deep positions or out wide preferably on the left acting as an attacking midfielder.

Whether Manchester United can meet Atléti’s asking price or not, one question remains – why Saúl would want to move from a team he has been at all his life and currently being top of La Liga to a team still trying to rebuild themselves to meet exceptions of their fans.

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish has arguably been one of the best players in the league despite playing for mid-table side Aston Villa. With Grealish being able to play as an attacking midfielder or out wide on the left, he would add much-needed squad depth to Ole Gunnar Solskjær side.

Grealish currently ranks third with assists in the league with five assists, only beaten by Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne. His passing ability will be vital to United who have been notorious this season for losing at half time due to lack of chances. Grealish has created seven big chances so far this season with the only United player beating this stat is Manchester United’s star man Bruno Fernandes with eight big chances created.

It would be obvious that Jack Grealish would want to play for Manchester United with the chance to play European football which he has not experienced yet with Aston Villa. This is a deal that United will be interested in as they have recently been trying to recruit more English talent into their team, most notably Jadon Sancho.

The main question here is are United prepared to pay for Grealish, as it would most likely take a record breaking fee for an English player – breaking Harry Maguire’s £80 million fee, which still has yet to convince both fans and pundits alike.

Furthermore, United have Bruno Fernandes who has been one of the best players in the Premier league along with new addition to the team Donny van de Beek and experienced midfielder Juan Mata – all of whom enjoy playing in the advanced playmaker role behind the striker. This shows United have enough options in the attacking midfield role but perhaps should invest in a player who sits behind the midfield.

Denis Zakaria

If Manchester United want to return to their former glory they need a world class defensive midfielder. Liverpool have Fabinho and Chelsea have N’Golo Kanté; but Manchester United lack players who are able to sit deep behind the midfield, with their most comfortable option being 32-year-old Nemanja Matić who looks like he is past his prime.

United’s philosophy has never been buying players from Europe’s elite, and following on from that policy a player currently playing for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach may fit the bill. Denis Zakaria possesses both pace and power along with many defensive qualities which will help him adapt well to the physicality of the Premier League.

Denis Zakaria looks like the suitable candidate to play in defensive midfield for ‘The Red Devils’. However one issue that may put Manchester United of is that, just like Eric Bailly, Denis Zakaria has had numerous injury problems over his career and only recently came back from a knee injury which caused him to be out for 246 days.

Trust in the Academy

It would be a bold move by Ole Gunnar Solskjær to trust in the youth to replace Paul Pogba but even the likes of Paul Scholes got introduced into the first team at one point.

Manchester United have always had talent in their academy with James Garner looking like he has a chance to play for United’s first team while currently impressing on loan at fourth place Watford in the Championship. Other academy players include: Arnau Puigmal, Hannibal Mejbri and Ethan Galbraith.

The Author

Will Brown

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