Transfer Talk: Five midfielders on United boss Rangnick's radar
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s return and the big-money signing of Jadon Sancho, Manchester United’s summer was an incomplete one.
That was due to the glaring omission of a quality addition in the middle of the park, a department in which the Red Devils are still lacking.
Ralf Rangnick’s interim reign got off to a solid start with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday — but might the German genius want to beef up his midfield with a transfer window just around the corner?
Paul Pogba is set to leave Old Trafford for the second time in his career this summer, while Nemanja Matic, 33, is unlikely to figure in Rangnick's long-term planning.
We propose some potential targets they could pursue this January.
Rumours linking West Ham vice-captain Declan Rice with a move to Old Trafford seem to have been circulating forever — and there is no sign of them going away any time soon.
Already one of the finest defensive midfielders in the Premier League, Rice continues to progress and impress, with the Hammers enjoying a fine campaign at home and on the continent.
The 22-year-old has caught the eye with the attacking side of his game in recent months, showing signs of developing into an outstanding box-to-box operator.
The 27-cap England international is tied to a long-term contract at the London Stadium, however, so a huge offer would need to be tabled for his current employers to consider a sale.
You have to be confident to play for a club of United’s stature — and Brighton star Yves Bissouma certainly has full faith in his abilities.
When asked who he thought was the best midfielder in the Premier League back in September, he said: "I don’t want to be arrogant, but it’s me because in my head I am working to be the best.
"So I cannot say another name. I know in the Premier League there are so many good midfielders, but for me, it’s me because that gives me the confidence and the energy to work hard and show people I am here and I am Bissouma."
The Mali international, 25, is out of contract in the summer of 2023, so the Seagulls could be tempted to cash in on their No8 before he enters the final 12 months of his current deal.
The ex-Lille midfielder has a long list of suitors however, which may result in a bidding war between a number of Premier League clubs.
Frenkie de Jong
Barcelona recently rubbished reports that they had made Frenkie de Jong available for sale — but that does not mean that their resolve cannot still be tested.
While the Dutchman has not consistently performed to the highest level since joining Barca from Ajax for £65million in 2019, he is still only 24.
And besides, his displays for the Netherlands at Euro 2020 more or less confirmed what many have thought all along — that he would become one of the very best midfielders in the world.
With the Blaugrana still cash-strapped and the future finally looking a little brighter for United, a bid for De Jong is certainly not out of the question.
Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi would probably be the most affordable of this quintet of players but that does not mean that he should be considered a lesser option.
The Nigeria international ranks among the top 10 Premier League players for tackles per 90 minutes this season (3.64), and he is the most defensive-minded of these five names.
But the 24-year-old does pose a threat in the final third too, whether he is making a nuisance of himself in the box at set-pieces or peppering the goal with long-range efforts.
Now in his sixth season at the Foxes, the playmaker may decide it is time to take his career to the next level and push for a part in Rangnick's revolution.
A standout player for England in Euro 2020, Kalvin Phillips was also one of Leeds’ most consistent performers last term, as the Whites made a scintillating return to the top flight.
Phillips, 26, had never previously played at the highest level — but you could have been forgiven for thinking that he was a seasoned Premier League pro as he made Marcelo Bielsa’s midfield tick.
For Leeds, there are no more bitter rivals than United — but that has not stopped the likes of Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith crossing the Pennines in the past.
It would be highly unlikely that the two clubs could reach an agreement, but Phillips' undoubted talent will surely mean he is on Rangnick's radar.