Manchester United: Playmaker search intensifies amid string of rumours

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /

Manchester United are on the hunt for a playmaker.

In an attempt to build a squad worthy of challenging for major silverware in the near future, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has drawn a list of players to enhance Manchester United’s playmaking department, which has seen an upturn of fortunes since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP.

With Pogba missing a major chunk of fixtures due to a recurring ankle injury, Manchester United struggled for goals as current attacking midfielders- Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira– failed to link the play and feed the forwards.

The scene changed when Fernandes arrived in January as the Red Devils managed an unbeaten streak of 11 games before football stopped due to COVID-19 lockdown.

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Refraining from putting all their eggs in one basket, the Old Trafford chiefs are scouring an able candidate to add competition for Bruno Fernandes and provide multiple tactical options for Solskjaer and his coaching staff.

To execute his fluid attacking football, Solskjaer needs a pro-active number ten, capable of threading through passes and dropping between the lines to receive the ball from midfield.

Considering this, Jesse Lingard’s rich vein of form ensured an outstanding set of results during the Norwegian manager’s early part of the Old Trafford reign. So that Solskjaer can implement his philosophy, a list of playmakers is chalked out to enhance the squad.

Recently, Man United have been linked to a slew of attacking midfielders. Let’s have a look at each candidate and assess the probability of landing at Old Trafford ahead of next season.

Jack Grealish

Probability: 4/5

Since his excellent performance in Aston Villa’s 2-2 stalemate against Man United at the Theatre of Dreams, Jack Grealish has found an admirer in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who complimented the playmaker by terming him as “the best player in the pitch”.

With United’s interest in Grealish being public, Aston Villa are said to have placed an £80m price-tag on their skipper. But with Lions fighting a relegation battle, the transfer fee could be reduced to half of earlier mentioned figure if the club is demoted to Championship next season.

Given the affinity of United chiefs to emerging British players with X-Factor, Jack Grealish is the prime candidate to arrive at Old Trafford as a playmaker, as Laurie Whitwell from The Athletic suggests.

Donny van de Beek

Probability: 3/5

Almost set to become a Galactico, a move to Real Madrid seems to fallen through abruptly for Donny van de Beek, owing to financial implications brought by COVID-19 crisis along with a bloated first-team squad.

With the Dutch international desperate to seek a challenge away from Ajax this summer, Man United have established an initial level dialogue with the player’s entourage and club CEO Edwin van der Sar.

Though the Red Devils are interested in Van de Beek, it is understood that the Dutchman is below Jack Grealish in the priority list. Also, Ed Woodward wants to bring down the transfer fee from €50m, the amount Madrid accepted to pay, as per De Telegraaf (via Daily Mail).

Kai Havertz

Probability: 2/5

Kai Havertz has established himself as one of the most exciting talents across Europe. Despite operating in a deeper role, the German youngster has a knack of creating goalscoring opportunities with his clever movement in the opposition’s box.

The Bayer Leverkusen forward has managed 28 goals and eight assists in the Bundesliga since the 2018/19 campaign kicked off (stats via TransferMarkt). Notwithstanding the club chief ready to let go Havertz, the brilliant youngster is set to cost around €100m.

With United’s priority elsewhere, Jadon Sancho, likely to belong in the similar price bracket, it’s highly unlikely of the Old Trafford bosses to sanction an exorbitant spending spree on two players when the purse strings are running tight due to COVID-19 crisis.

Also. How Manchester United could lineup when Premier League resumes. light

Who do you think will land up at Old Trafford in the upcoming transfer market? Let us know in the comments.