According to a report in today’s issue of AS (page 34), English club Manchester United are reportedly “ready to pay” the release clause that Real Sociedad player Martin Zubimendi has in his contract.
In the most recent transfer window, the Red Devils strengthened their options in the middle of the field by acquiring Casemiro and Christian Eriksen as new players. Under the direction of manager Erik ten Hag, the veteran tandem is now a frequent part of the starting lineup.
Despite this, rumors continue to circulate that the team is interested in signing midfielders. According to AS, United have entered the competition to sign Zubimendi, whose current contract has a release clause worth €60 million, and they are now competing with Barcelona.
It should also be mentioned that the club is examining the termination clause in preparation for a potential approach. It has been reported that United paid special attention to the 23-year-old player during their most recent European matches versus Sociedad.
The impression that Zubimendi has left with Sociedad is significant. Although the 23-year-old is versatile enough to play either the defensive or central midfield roles, he has been more successful playing the defensive role.
Throughout the course of this season, he has recorded close to two tackles and one interception per game on average. He has also drawn attention thanks to his prowess in regular aerial duels, which he has won. The percentage of times he is successful is 75%.
As a result, it should not come as a surprise that Manchester United and Barcelona are pursuing him aggressively. The latter are mulling about the possibility of him taking over for seasoned senior star Sergio Busquets once the current season comes to a close.
Even if it is obvious that the Catalan giants won’t be able to purchase Zubimendi in January owing to the spending constraints imposed by La Liga, we don’t see United making an effort to sign him during the subsequent transfer window.
It is quite improbable that Sociedad will sell the Spaniard for a price that is lower than his release clause. In the meanwhile, Manchester United looks to be set at midfield, at least until the summer, when the club will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to let Fred go.
We do not anticipate that the club will make a significant financial investment on a holding midfielder during the month of January. Finding a forward who can play multiple positions could be the primary objective. There is a connection between Cody Gakpo and Joao Felix.
Marcus Rashford helps Manchester United regain their greatest offense
Lockdown football wasn’t great, but Manchester United shined in June 2020 and established a lethal attacking combination.
It was the highlight of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure, but defeats to Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final and Sevilla in a Europa League semi-final were costly.
United were attractive and had a promising offense before the 2019/20 season began. Seven Premier League games after Project Restart saw 19 goals. With Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial scored 14 goals.
United should have progressed in the two years since those heady days. Jadon Sancho, England’s next attacking star, was signed for £73million after Rashford’s poor play. Martial struggled at Sevilla, scoring just once in 12 appearances.
Martial outlasted Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo to reclaim his spot. After his explosive TV interview, Ronaldo’s contract was terminated and Cavani moved for free in June.
After the World Cup, United’s top front four will again be Fernandes, Rashford, and Martial.
Sancho has regressed since his move from Borussia Dortmund, and Donny van de Beek has failed to challenge Fernandes for his spot, but this is as much about those players returning to form as it is about others brought in failing to increase the standard.
Fernandes lost some of his stardust from his first season, but he never lost his spot. He endured a slump but was the World Cup’s best player and is regaining form at Old Trafford.
However, Rashford and Martial struggled at United. Under Erik ten Hag, the team has returned to form after Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick’s coaching failures.
Example: Rashford. He has eight goals in 19 United games and three for England in Qatar, making him a Golden Boot contender. This player has regained confidence during the World Cup. His two goals against Wales encapsulated that.
The 25-year-old has played well on the right at the World Cup, but he has played better on the left this season. A player who is one of Ten Hag’s first names on the teamsheet looks set to sign a new contract after considering leaving Old Trafford.
Martial’s form has also been good this season, but only between injuries. He has been Ten Hag’s finest No. 9 with four goals and two assists in 300 minutes.
United may benefit from his failure to make the France World Cup squad. Instead, it’s allowed Martial to work on his fitness, and if he survives next week’s training camp in Spain, he may be ready to contribute when the season starts.
With Ronaldo gone, Martial is United’s starting centre-forward. With Rashford, Fernandes, and Antony, he’s reuniting the old band.
Three-quarters of that attack was United’s long-term solution two years ago. It may have been.