Manchester United’s need for a central midfielder was underlined by the weekend’s lacklustre 1-1 draw against Southampton, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s failed to exert any control in the middle of the pitch and put in a frustratingly disjointed performance as a result.
Other key areas have been strengthened, with Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane coming in. However, midfield looked as though it could be left for another year,
The ideal might be someone like Declan Rice, but with a £100m price tag on his head and a week of the transfer window left in which to do business, that kind of deal simply isn’t viable.
However, there are other, cheaper options, several of which may still require United to offload some deadwood to create space and raise funds, for whom deals would be significantly more feasible.
4. Yves Bissouma
Having arrived at Brighton from Lille in 2018, Yves Bissouma really established himself in the Premier League towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign and missed only two games last season.
He has often been linked with Arsenal and Liverpool in recent months and is noted for his stamina, ball-winning skills and an ability to turn defence into attack.
At 24, Bissouma is still several years shy of his peak, which means he still has the potential to develop and improve. The figure that has been thrown about so far is £40m, which would be a significant outlay, but arguably well worth the investment in the long-term.
3. Ruben Neves
Ruben Neves has made himself a cult hero at Wolves over the years, trading Porto and Champions League football for Molineux and the Championship in 2017 at the age of just 20.
But nothing lasts forever and if Neves wants to return to the Champions League before he hits his peak, he will have to move on because it won’t happen at Wolves.
The Portugal international is particularly known for his positioning and passing ability, which are both qualities that would drastically improve United’s midfield. What’s more, Wolves’ financial position means they are open to selling if offers meet their valuation in excess of £30m.
2. Saul Niguez
The capture of Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid would be a moment of opportunism. The Spaniard, although rumoured to be dissatisfied at Wanda Metropolitano since last season, has only seriously come on the market for a potential Premier League move very recently.
He was earlier linked with a switch to Barcelona that has since collapsed and Atletico are prepared to allow the 26-year-old leave on loan, as well as letting him choose his destination.
A loan requires no long-term commitment for United and Saul could provide the chance to land a proven name while the situation is assessed more thoroughly ahead of next season.
1. Eduardo Camavinga
Rennes prodigy Eduardo Camavinga is perhaps the ultimate double-edged investment, who could both immediately improve United’s midfield but also comes with major long-term upside.
He already has two full seasons of first-team football under his belt in a strong Rennes side, has played Champions League football during that time and still won’t even turn 19 until November.
Despite having a player of such potential on their books, Rennes are aware that he already has his eye on the next step and isn’t prepared to sign a new contract with the club beyond next summer. As a result, they are ready to cash in this month and value him at £30m.