Rio Ferdinand recently gave a glowing verdict of new Manchester United midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and has spoken about the qualities he'll bring to Old Trafford.
Amrabat sealed a transfer deadline-day move from Fiorentina to the Red Devils, joining on a season-long loan. Erik ten Hag's side have paid a €10 million loan fee and can make the move permanent by paying a further €20 million plus €5 million in add-ons.
The 27-year-old is regarded as one of Europe's best ball-playing midfielders while also flourishing in a holding midfield role. It's his defensive capabilities that Ferdinand reckons bodes well for his former club.
The Manchester United legend thinks Amrabat will provide good cover for Casemiro when required (via Mirror):
"Defensively he’ll give us great cover for someone like Casemiro if he gets suspended or needs resting."
The Red Devils have spent many years with Scott McTominay and Fred playing in their midfield. However, Rio Ferdinand continued by highlighting that the duo don't possess the defensive nous that their new midfielder does.
"He's a skilled six, deep player, that's his role. We've had players like Fred, McTominay - no disrespect, they wanted to do well - but I've always said when you look at their player ID, there was never defensive nous in their kit. This guy has that, that's his game," Ferdinand added.
Sofyan Amrabat previously played under Erik ten Hag at Eredivisie side FC Utrecht and knows what the Dutch tactician expects from his players. He was also one of Fiorentina's standout performers last season, making 49 appearances across competitions and providing one assist.
The Morroco international ranked third in the Serie A side for ball recoveries (157) and second for dribble success (71 percent), per StatmanDave. These are qualities that Ten Hag wants his midfielders to possess.
Manchester United's midfield has been all over the place in the early stages of the season. Casemiro has been left vulnerable due to Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount both playing further up the field.
Gary Neville insists Manchester United didn't panic by signing Amrabat on deadline day
The Red Devils left it late but got a deal over the line for Amrabat. They spent most of the summer chasing his signature but Financial Fair Play implications meant they could only do a loan deal.
Gary Neville was asked whether his former club had panicked with their capture of the Moroccan on transfer deadline day. He responded by saying (via Sky Sports):
"No I don’t think the Amrabat one is a panic because they have wanted him from day one. I think he’s (Ten Hag) wanted a ball-playing midfield player."
Ten Hag immediately targeted his former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong when he first arrived at Old Trafford last summer. However, he was unable to convince the Barcelona midfielder to make the move.
The Manchester United boss has signed Mount but Neville doesn't view the English midfielder as a ball-playing midfielder.
"Go back 12 months to Frenkie De Jong and basically Mount isn’t a ball-playing midfielder, I think he presses well, I think he links well, I think he runs forward," Neville continued.
Sofyan Amrabat won't make his debut against Arsenal on Sunday, September 2, as he was not registered in time. However, he could be set to make his debut after the international break when Manchester United face Brighton & Hove Albion on September 16.