Manchester United will be looking to turn the corner following the most recent period under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick with many fans and pundits pointing fingers at the squad as the main source of agony within the club. There is a need to flush out members of the current squad and replace them with a core group of new signings to drive the team forward and bring them back to the glory days of winning titles. The three key positions that the Reddevils need to strengthen are – a holding midfielder, striker and a centre-back – we take a look at three players that could potentially be the solution to United’s problems? (We’ll cover their hunt for a full-back in a piece next week.)
The young Uruguayan joined Sporting Clube de Portugal in the summer of 2021 and has been putting in impressive performances consistently which led to Ugarte receiving his first senior cap for his country. Sporting CP rate Ugarte highly; a €60 million buyout clause has been placed in his contract to deter any future suitors from prying away this talented individual, a potential obstacle United would have to overcome.
Throughout Ugarte’s career, he has been played as a deep-lying playmaker as he likes to get possession in the first phase of build-up. His ability to switch the ball and to play out of pressure has made him perfect for this role. Ugarte is not just an impressive passer of the ball, he is also a determined and hard-working individual that loves to get stuck into a tackle helping the defensive element of Sporting CP’s matches; a common trait of many Uruguayans.
Sporting CP like to play on the front foot, controlling possession with a high press, Ugarte is key to this style of play, taking up the holding role between the attack and defence making sure the team are not countered whilst also being the orchestrator of the attack. The abilities that Ugarte demonstrates and the role that he plays is similar to that of Rodri at Manchester City (due to the similarities of the team’s tactics).
Ugarte has got his first big move to Sporting CP in the summer of 2021, however, if his trajectory continues, he will be on the move again soon with many major European powers soon to be looking for a replacement in this role. The Uruguayan would be a perfect fit for Manchester United, particularly if the club want to change their style of play moving towards the styles of Ajax, Manchester City and Liverpool.
United have been linked with Declan Rice and Yves Bissouma due to their experience within the Premier League however the cost of these two signings would likely swallow United’s transfer budget, putting pressure on the negotiations or potentially limiting their scope for other potential signings which are much needed for the club’s improvement. His tenacity and ability on the ball along with his more affordable cost make Ugarte the perfect candidate for Manchester United when looking for their next holding midfielder.
The 22-year-old Uruguayan has a bright future as witnessed throughout this season, especially with his performance and finish against Liverpool in the Champions League Quarter Final tie at Anfield. The striker would be an expensive buy after the season he has had so far and if he carries on with his form the price will only continue to rise.
Manchester United have struggled to convert their chances under Rangnick; particularly evident in the Middlesborough, Burnley and Southampton fixtures as the club failed to put these sides to the sword following a vast array of chances. Currently, Nunez has 32 goals in 37 games across the Champions League and Liga Portugal, an incredible record. With the creative ability that a number of United players possess (Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga), Nunez would get chances and with his killer instinct, he would only accelerate the performance and position of Manchester United.
The northwest club would look favourably on a striker who had the stamina, fitness and desire to press with high intensity. The club have arguably got the greatest finisher of all time with Cristiano Ronaldo yet he is unable to press and is currently 37 years old. Similar to Ugarte, Nunez is a tenacious player that will never give up with the belief that this approach will lead to success and bring him a goal.
The strong, deadly and pacey striker has the ability to adapt his style to play for a team that relies on the counter, a team that likes to press high or a team that likes to build up slowly making Nunez a perfect signing for any future United manager as they look to develop a side to compete against the very best with the likelihood that the manager will need to adopt all these approaches at certain times in the rebuilding process. Nunez would be the perfect striker to buy for the club as the other top options currently that possess the qualities and attitude of Nunez would be astronomically expensive when you compare his price and wages to Erling Braut Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, leaving his addition to the club a no brainer.
The Bosnian international centre-back is a great potential talent that is currently on loan at FC Girondins Bordeaux from Malmo and while the club are in turmoil Ahmedhodzic continues to demonstrate his talent at the heart of their defence as the major French side continue to fight against relegation. Ahmedhodzic was part of the spirited Champions League performance of Malmo this season, showing his ability to compete at the very highest level in European football.
There has been much made about the poor performance of the United defence this season with a heavy focus on Harry Maguire and his weaknesses being exposed in terms of pace and his ability on the ball. Ahmedhodzic is incredibly skilled on the ball and is great at progressing the play from the back making important passes to develop the attack of his side; a key component that the Manchester United back line is missing. They’re crying out for a confident defender that can make decisive passes forward to benefit the team. The athleticism and pace of Ahmedhodzic is a major strength that United would benefit from when looking to play a high defensive line against opponents with his ability to cover and stop any counter attacks from occurring. Manchester United would only benefit from having him in the spine of the team.
The defender would be a bargain for any side that wishes to sign him, Bordeaux has an agreement to sign him for £6million at the end of the current loan however due to the financial position of the French side this looks unlikely to be triggered; if the club are in Ligue 2 next season the chances of Ahmedhodzic being there are incredibly slim. The major clubs around Europe would be foolish not to sign the Bosnian international for this price but particularly United as Ahmedhodzic would be compatible with the style of play they attempt to implement. The 23-year-old would be a key component for years to come at the centre of the Manchester United side due to their desired playing style, his strengths and the room he has to develop as a young central defender.
These three players could be key to bringing success back to the red side of Manchester if signed. All three young players have the ability to better the Manchester United side and have displayed their ability at their respective clubs throughout the season. They need to find stability at the back with the ability to progress the side forward in attacking moves along with a talented finisher that will finish off the teams’ chances. The players have the talent to adapt to multiple styles of play with the three containing the ability to perform under the desired tactics of Erik Ten Hag (Slated to be the new manager of the club). Manchester United would benefit immensely by the signing of these three players in the summer transfer window.
Written by Brendan McGilligan
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