The defensive-midfield role is arguably the most important position in modern football. It provides much-needed composure and steel on the defensive side of the game, as well as dictates the play and offers the team assistance when in possession of the ball, by making passes between the lines. Man Utd have a number of options available to them within the midfield department but a defensive midfielder is needed to help the side push on and become title challengers.
One of the main reasons why United are yet to reach the levels which Liverpool and Manchester City have in recent seasons, is because the two rival clubs have world class defensive-midfielders in Fabinho and Fernandinho who they can rely on, providing quality on and off the ball.
Currently the only options to play as defensive midfielder for Man Utd are Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay. The trio have their own flaws and weaknesses to be considered for this complexed and advanced responsibility on a regular basis.
Both Fred and McTominay do not have the calm and collective mindset, the positional awareness or range of passing, meanwhile, Matic does not have the energy or legs to bring back his dominant displays.
Although Man Utd have been linked with the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, Ruben Neves and Saul Niguez, it’s Brighton’s Yves Bissouma that should be seen as the most suitable candidate to help solve the team’s midfield balance as their new defensive midfielder. Being a proven player in the Premier League, as well as a midfielder that possesses the ideal height, physicality, and engine to cover each area of the pitch, the Mali international has all the attributes that the Red Devils need.
Since becoming a regular starter at Brighton from the 2018/19 season, he has been utilised in different roles within midfield, whether it’s as a defensive-midfielder or as a box-to-box midfielder. Through his intelligent way of reading the game and his constant knack to intercept and win the ball with ease, the 24-year-old has no problems with playing as a lone midfielder or in a double pivot.
Bissouma has previously been linked with a move away from the Amex Stadium to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, which should indicate to majority of people that he is a talented player and a valuable asset to have in the middle of the pitch. For sure, there will be doubts and questions raised on if he is ready for a top-level move and will he cope with the pressure of playing for one of the best teams in England. Given that time will only tell on how he would do, his calm, cool and collective mindset as well as his willingness to adapt would help him settle in well.
At Man Utd, if he was to arrive at the club in the remaining days of the transfer window, he would be deployed as a lone defensive midfielder, allowing both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to complete the midfield trio and help the side on the attacking and creative side of the game. At the moment, with the lack of defensive discipline and the amount of freedom given to the duo in midfield, it leaves the team very open in transition and allows the opposition to be effective on the counter.
Unfortunately, the potential signing of Bissouma will not fix all the issues that the side face in midfield and off the ball, which is more down to the manager’s lack of execution and implementation into the squad, where the team are not drilled into a specific and consistent style of play. Nevertheless, the arrival of the Brighton midfielder would instantly prevent the side from being caught out of position and his presence in the line-up would assist the team to be in cruise control.
Overall, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd cannot be regarded as favourites or be taken as serious contenders for the Premier League/Champions League without a quality defensive midfielder. Without the signing of Bissouma or an individual that has a similar player profile to the Brighton midfielder, the side are expected to face a season of falling short and failing to win a piece of silverware again, which could be seen as a possible step backwards by the Old Trafford faithful.
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