Despite the acquisition of Bruno Fernandes on the penultimate day of the winter transfer window, Manchester United are far from the finished material at the moment. The club still needs quite a few signings before they can compete with the best in Europe, but the Portuguese’s arrival signaled a step in the right direction for the Red Devils – strengthening the midfield.
The Manchester United midfield has been seriously short of quality as well as personnel this season, as the injuries to Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba have highlighted. The Red Devils have required reinforcements in the midfield since last summer when Ander Herrera was allowed to leave without a replacement. While Fernandes is a stellar addition to the team, he certainly will not be enough to steer the club to success next season.
Which is why come the summer of this year, United will once again be looking to bolster their midfield with the right amount of quality to take them forward, especially with Pogba’s future still hanging in the balance. And they need to look no further than Jack Grealish.
The Aston Villa midfielder has been fantastic for his boyhood club for the last couple of years and helped them earn promotion to the Premier League this season. Since arriving among the big boys, Grealish has not only held his own but has even hit a higher gear. In this segment, we present 3 reasons why United should sign the Englishman in the summer.
Manchester United’s primary target over the summer was supposed to be James Maddison, a player the Red Devils have monitored for quite some time. However, the Englishman is very close to agreeing to a new deal with Leicester City and that would effectively rule out any transfer in the summer.
As of now, it is almost certain that United will fail to land Maddison any time soon and as such, it is time for United to look elsewhere.
This is where Grealish comes with a big advantage. The 24-year-old has played for Aston Villa all his life but is now willing to leave his boyhood club in search of greener pastures. He is reportedly drawing interest from Barcelona, while Pep Guardiola has also confessed his admiration for the player.
The competition might be intense, but United must do everything in their power to secure the signature of a player of Grealish’s caliber.
The English will turn 25 in September and while he might be a little over the 23-year age bar United have currently sent in the transfer market, Grealish does have the qualities that warrant a deviation from United’s age requirement.
Solskjaer has shown a preference for the 4-2-3-1 system this season but could revert back to his preferred 4-3-3 formation with the right individuals in the team. In addition, the presence of players who can suit both systems will be a welcome bonus for the Norwegian and could help Solskjaer switch tactics in the middle of the game as per the situation. In such a scenario, Grealish’s versatility would be an asset for the Red Devils
The Englishman, like James Maddison, is a No. 10 who can play in the No. 8 position. Grealish plays in the No. 8 position in the Aston Villa team, as a part of a midfield 3, but can easily occupy the No. 10 role in Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 formation. In addition, the Englishman can also operate as a left-forward in a front three and has been used in that role occasionally in the Villa team. He has also played as the focal point of the attack, most recently in the 6-1 loss at the hands of Manchester City.
When compared with Maddison, Grealish creates more chances per game from slightly lesser passes. His hold up play and ability to win fouls will also be a welcome addition to the United team. Grealish has 9 goals and 5 assists from 26 appearances for Villa so far this season. He has registered 2.7 key passes and 2.4 dribbles per game in the Premier League, while also drawing 4.8 fouls per game.
#1 Leadership attributes and the right attitude
If United manage to bring Grealish to Old Trafford, they will have a fantastic footballer as well as an effective leader in the team, with the right mindset to succeed. The Red Devils have been criminally short of leaders on the pitch and the dressing room and that has hurt them during games.
Grealish, who wears the armband for his boyhood club, is a natural leader who leads from the front and by example. His arrival, of course, would be in line with Solskjaer’s desire to fill the dressing room with players willing to prove themselves on the pitch.
A move to Old Trafford would be a significant step up in his career for the Englishman and he would be motivated to prove a point. That would significantly improve the attitude in the dressing room, and would also induce other players to step up in their efforts. On the other hand, Grealish’s zeal to succeed coupled with his ability to take responsibility on the pitch would be the step in the right direction for United.
The Red Devils currently lack character on the field and can be too soft for the opposition at times. As such, United not only need good players, but they also require strong characters who can help them hold on to leads or grind out results for the team. Grealish would bring all the right characters into the team and on the pitch, and that is why United must leave no stones unturned to bring him to Old Trafford in the summer.Published 10 Feb 2020, 21:21 IST