Manchester United’s 4-0 away drubbing at the hands of Brighton made one thing abundantly clear, that the Reds’ engine room needs some added bite.
Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata – two of the three starting midfielders during another toothless display – are both out of contract in the summer. Despite both being great servants to United over the years, racking up over 470 appearances between them, the time has come for the pair of them to move on. And with Paul Pogba also out of contract and looking set to leave, a much-needed central midfield overhaul looks to be the first thing on new manager Erik Ten Hag’s to-do list. Online bookmakers, who offer free bets via sites such as oddschecker, have suggested that these three midfielders could be set to replace the outgoing trio at Old Trafford next season.
Has there been a more consistent performer in the Premier League over the last few years than the West Ham United captain? The Hammers look set for back-to-back top-seven finishes in the English top-flight, an achievement they could have only dreamt of when David Moyes took over a couple of years ago, staving off relegation in the process. Add to that the small matter of a Europa League semifinal, which was an impressive, albeit losing effort, thanks to some controversial refereeing. Of course, Rice made sure to voice his displeasure at this in the tunnel after the game. But such passion has been missing in Manchester United’s midfield for what appears to be an age. The England international would bring a certain level of dynamism to a below-par midfield that the Old Trafford faithful have been craving since the glory days of a decade ago.
First and foremost, apologies to any Leeds United fans reading this, but since Kalvin Phillips was integrated into the England setup when he was still a Championship level midfielder by Gareth Southgate, his performances have come on leaps and bounds. His performances at last summer’s European Championships – alongside the aforementioned Rice – were a breath of fresh air for fans of the Three Lions, who even voted the Yorkshireman as England’s player of the year for 2021.
But as mentioned, there is the small matter of Phillips being a key player – and supporter – of Leeds United, a club that has great disdain for United. Whether he would be willing to cross the great divide, and whether the club would be willing to sell their star man to one of their oldest rivals, remains to be seen. After seeing both Phillips and Rice’s performances together for their country over the last couple of years, if both were to end up playing in front of the Stretford End next season, United could be primed and ready to return to their glory days.
Okay, perhaps Denmark’s resident miracle man wouldn’t add bite to United’s midfield but his performances since returning to football for Brentford have been nothing short of astounding. He’s transformed the West London club from a side that looked to be stuck in a relegation battle, winning just six games all season, to a team that have won seven in ten since his debut. This has left any fears of a drop-down to the second tier firmly in the rearview mirror. The creativity the Danish international would bring to Erik ten Hag’s team next season is something United have been sorely missing this season. Plus, Eriksen was brought through the ranks at Ajax, and understands the Dutch way of playing the game, something that would suit him down to the ground when Ten Hag takes over at the end of the campaign. Eriksen is out of contact in the summer, after only having signed a six-month contract with the Bees, making him an ideal addition to the Old Trafford ranks.