If anything has been glaringly obvious this summer, it is the fact that Manchester United are in desperate need of a new defensive midfielder.
With Nemanja Matic and Fred not being in the best of form, it has highlighted a real issue that could burden Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side this season from success.
Scott McTominay is ahead of the aforementioned duo in the pecking order, but his injury is set to rule him out for another four weeks minimum. As well as McTominay being ruled out, the other issue is that he is without a suitable partner in the middle of midfield.
Manchester United want to switch to a 4-3-3 formation with one true defensive midfielder, but without a suitable candidate in the building yet, Solskjaer has been reluctant to move away from the midfield pivot.
Paul Pogba, who is much more of a threat going forward, has been played in the double pivot alongside either Fred or McTominay in the past, which has seemed a great waste of his utility in the final third – hence the need for another combative defensive midfielder.
It only takes one glance at how effective Pogba is for France when it is N’Golo Kante who takes care of the defensive work for him and allows the Man United midfielder the license to move forward.
And so, Manchester United are in the market for a holding midfielder, but it is clear that Solskjaer wants Declan Rice, who is likely to remain at West Ham United for another 12 months.
Rice, who was on the Chelsea books as a youngster, has indicated he is open to a move that would likely cost in the region of £70 million next summer, but it is not as straightforward as perhaps the Jadon Sancho transfer was.
The English midfielder has his best friend, Mason Mount, at the club, trying to convince him to join if the options is available next year. Along with that, a London move perhaps makes more sense than relocating to Manchester.
Eduardo Camavinga and Saul Niguez were two other names that Manchester United were looking into it, but it looks like the Stade Rennais midfielder has his heart set on Real Madrid, who have tabled a £30 million bid a day before the transfer window shuts.
Saul is another interesting midfield player that possibly needs a move to resurrect his world class performances, but Atletico Madrid have insisted that he is not moving anywhere any time soon.
The only other outside option is Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Ruben Neves, who would be a welcomed sight at Old Trafford. The battle-hardened midfielder has a vast amount of experience, having captained FC Porto at the age of 17 in the Champions League.
Again, it would take a hefty fee of around £35 million to prize him away, which seems unlikely, but it would be more than a suitable fit for the Red Devils to go for him over putting all their eggs into the Rice basket.
Time will tell as to whether Manchester United go all in for a midfielder before the window shuts, but they must be smart in how they approach it.