‘Sloppy’ Fred could make way as West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leeds star Kalvin Phillips linked with Manchester United transfer, but John McGinn could be answer to midfield problem at Old Trafford
A host of Premier League players could ‘walk’ into Manchester United’s midfield, which has been highlighted as the major Achilles heel in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
A promising start to the campaign saw Cristiano Ronaldo banging in the goals on his return to Old Trafford after 12 years, but recent form has been mixed.
Pressure has grown on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a couple of bad results in the top-flight and a humbling in the Champions League by Young Boys in Switzerland.
United’s midfield has been identified as their weak point, with Brazilian Fred in particular criticised for his disappointing displays in the middle of the park.
The 28-year-old was arguably at fault for Everton’s equaliser on Saturday in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford as he was shrugged off by Demarai Gray in the lead up to the Toffees’ goal, scored by Andros Towsend.
It has led to suggestion that the club could go back into the transfer market to look for a new defensive midfielder.
West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leeds ace Kalvin Phillips – who both flourished with England at Euro 2020 during the summer – have been linked with Old Trafford switch, with the former said to be the primary target in the defensive midfield role.
Rice, 22, is contracted to West Ham until 2024 but he is not expected to sign a new contract, making a move possible next summer with the London side expected to cash in.
The Manchester Evening News reported in September that figures have already been discussed about a move.
A move for Phillips, 25, may be more difficult considering his ties to Leeds.
His manager, Marcelo Bielsa, even highligted that when discussing the player’s future recently.
“I’m sure the day he leaves Leeds and the way that he does it, far from provoking disappointment – of course it will generate disappointment – but it’s going to solidify his link to the club, the people and the city.
“I’m sure he would only leave if it’s guaranteed that the link to the place where he was born remains intact. He will know how to do it.”
Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor, meanwhile, reckons John McGinn would also ‘walk right into’ United’s midfield’ as he criticised Fred for his poor start to the season.
The former Villa captain told talkSPORT: “I say it every time I see him play, McTominay is the better version of Fred, definitely, but every time Fred gets the ball he gives it away – sloppy passes when they’re trying to build attacks.
“He’ll kick it out out of a play or to the opposition and even when he’s in there to win the ball back, like Allan or Doucoure does, Fred doesn’t do that.
“I don’t see see why he’s in that Manchester United team. I’d rather [Jesse] Lingard all day or give [Donny] van de Beek a chance.
“There’s a lot of centre-midfielders that walk into that midfield.
“John McGinn walks into it that midfield.”
Solskjaer’s men are four points better off than the same stage last season but they have stumbled into the international break.
The Norwegian knows pressure will only grow if results continue to be poor, having spent more than £100million on Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in the summer.
Download talkSPORT Edge NOW!
It’s the free football app that keeps you one step ahead of your mates with short, sharp and shareable content.