5 More Realistic Saviours to Man United's Defensive Midfield Issue

Ben Wylie

Yves Bissouma

Possibly the most recognisable name on this list to Premier League fans, it’s a wonder Yves Bissouma hasn’t been more heavily linked to Manchester United given their desperation for a player in his mould. Also given how pivotal Bissouma has been for Graham Potter's men this season, the Seagulls are unlikely to be willing to part with their star man in January, however, as we’ve all seen time and time again, United are no stranger to paying over the odds once they identify their man.

The main concern of a deal being completed this window is the AFCON, as Bissouma has travelled to represent Mali in the upcoming tournament, complicating any potential deal this month. With all this considered, realistically, this may be more likely to be completed in the summer if it does happen, but with the quality already shown from Bissouma since his arrival at Brighton, he would be more than ready to make a move to Old Trafford.

Ibrahim Sangare

Although somewhat an unknown quantity, PSV Eindhoven's Ibrahim Sangare looks an ideal candidate in the Red Devils' search for a defensive midfielder. The Ivorian has played every minute of league football this season, putting up 3.2 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per 90 minutes, which is a massive increase on both Fred and Scott McTominay’s numbers, albeit in the Eredivisie.

At just 24, Sangare is entering his prime and looks ready to make the step up to a top European side. Despite his current deal running until 2025, Dutch clubs have a history of letting players leave for reasonable fees and with a valuation of £12.6 million on Tranfersmrkt, a deal anywhere in this region could end up being a steal for Rangnick and the Old Trafford faithful.

Benjamin Andre

The only player on this list on the wrong side of 30, Lille’s Benjamin Andre may be more a quick fix than anything else. After helping Lille to a surprise Ligue 1 title last season, Andre put his name out there as one of the best holding midfielders around, and with his contract expiring the year after next now may be the perfect time to land the Frenchman at a cut-rate price.

Andre’s underlying defensive numbers of 3.9 tackles, 1.8 interceptions, and 1.5 clearances per 90 minutes are a significant upgrade on Fred’s output, with the Brazilian putting up a respective 2.6 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, and 0.9 clearances per 90.

Featuring in all but one league match this season, Lille may be reluctant to let the midfielder leave mid-season, however, with the player entering the final year of his contract come the summer, the right offer may just see them tempted.

Amadou Haidara

Ever since Ralf Ragnick’s interim appointment at United, one ever-present name on the list of potential candidates to fill the defensive midfielder-shaped void at Old Trafford: Amadou Haidara of RB Leipzig. Throughout his time in Germany, Rangnick brought the Malian-born midfielder into the Leipzig side, first using the player as a substitute in a 1-0 win over Schalke.

Since then, the Malian has gone on to be a mainstay on the Leipzig team sheet appearing 31 times in the league last season. At 23, Haidara is still to hit his peak, however having recently signed a contract tying him to Leipzig until 2025, and the notorious embarrassment of riches available to the Red Bull group, it will take a sizeable fee to persuade manager Domenico Todesco to sanction such a promising talent leaving his camp this winter.

Dennis Zakaria

Staying in the Bundesliga, perhaps a more achievable target the Red Devils may look to land this month could be Borussia Monchengladbach’s, Dennis Zakaria. Since arriving in Germany in 2017/18, Zakaria has been a regular, appearing over 140 times for Monchengladbach as well earning 40 caps for Switzerland.

Besides his consistency, the main draw in moving for Zakaria this month is his contractual situation with his current deal expires in the summer. United can offer the Swiss pre-contract to join on a free in July and with this in mind, Monchengladbach may be open to any offer this month that sees them receive a fee for their player.

Above all this, Zakaria has also regularly played centre-back for both club and country, and given United’s need to start forgotten man Phil Jones against Wolves recently, additional cover in this position may be welcomed in the form of Zakaria.


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