After six years and 233 appearances with Manchester United, Paul Pogba has confirmed that he’ll be leaving the club this summer upon the expiry of his contract.
The Frenchman moved to Old Trafford back in 2016 for a club-record £ 89million, but struggled with consistency throughout his tenure.
The star meant to spearhead Jose Mourinho’s project in Manchester ended up falling out with the Portuguese boss, and then struggled to fit into the plans of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
Now 29 years old, Pogba has decided to down his tools in Manchester and make a move this summer. Regardless of how you view his time with the Red Devils, his departure certainly leaves United’s midfield department short of options.
With Erik ten Hag now needing an influx of midfield reinforcements, Planet Sport look at six players he could sign to fill the void left by Pogba.
Frenkie de Jong
Ten Hag’s No.1 target seems to be his former Ajax star Frenkie de Jong, who now plies his trade for Barcelona following his move to Spain in 2019 for £ 68million.
The 25-year-old is a highly technical midfielder with a superb work rate – the exact skillset Ten Hag desires in his midfielders.
With Donny van de Beek also set to return to United from his Everton loan, Ten Hag’s plan will be to reunite the midfield duo that helped Ajax to a Champions League semi-final.
De Jong did recently state his desire to stay at Barcelona next season, but with the Catalan club struggling financially they could cash in on him, with United ready to table a £ 70million offer.
United are reportedly ready to sign up to six new players in the summer window, and a statement signing would be a good way for Ten Hag to set the tone. Ever since he set foot in Manchester, his first priority has been to reunite with the former Ajax star.
After shining for Monaco this season, Tchouameni has caught the eye of almost every European powerhouse.
Liverpool and Real Madrid lead the race to sign the talented French youngster, but United are certainly in the mix, and have the financial muscle to wrestle with any side.
The 22-year-old plays as a box-to-box midfielder, and is as comfortable on the back foot as he is going forward.
With Ten Hag favoring a midfield three during his time at Ajax, Tchouameni could be the perfect option to add balance and energy to what will undoubtedly be a new-look Red Devils side.
It’s an expensive gamble to make though, with Real Madrid reportedly ready to splash £ 70million on the Monaco star.
Manchester United have been linked to Declan Rice for the past two years, and nothing has changed this summer.
The Red Devils are desperate for a defensive-minded midfielder, and Rice’s performances for West Ham have shown that he’s one of the best in the league in that department.
The only issue is that his signature could cost the Red Devils well over £ 100million, which would put a hefty dent in their summer budget.
But with Bruno Fernandes, Van de Beek and Fred all more comfortable as attacking options, Rice could help relieve some of their defensive duties, and could well be a crucial piece of Ten Hag’s jigsaw regardless of the fee.
Should the Dutch manager put Rice at the top of his shopping list, United will have to compete with Chelsea in a bidding war for the West Ham midfielder, and that even if the Hammers decide to put him up for sale.
With all three previous options on the list demanding high transfer fees, Christian Eriksen could be the bargain Ten Hag is looking for.
Since his tragic cardiac arrest in the Euros last summer, Eriksen has miraculously returned to football – and performed superbly for new club Brentford.
But with the Bees only offering the Danish midfielder a contract until the summer, the 30-year-old is now free to explore other options, and a move to Old Trafford might just be on the table.
With Pogba leaving imminently, his freed up wages would no doubt cover Eriksen’s expenses, and while the former Tottenham star might not be able to play in every game, he’s a Premier League proven player with an abundance of quality.
Should Chelsea win the bidding war for Declan Rice, then Thomas Tuchel could allow N’Golo Kante to leave, and the Frenchman has already been linked with United this summer.
Despite being 31-years-old, Kante’s workrate remains unrivalled and his energy would hugely improve what is currently a flat and unmotivated United midfield.
Kante is a complete contrast to what Pogba offers as a midfielder, but with Fernandes happy to take responsibility as the side’s creative outlet, he’d be tasked with doing what he does best – protecting the back four.
Pogba’s French midfield partner could well be his successor at Old Trafford, and with just one year left on his contract, he wouldn’t demand too much of a fee.
Bayern Munich’s French midfielder is out of contract this summer, and has publicly expressed his desire to play in the Premier League.
At 27, Tolisso is hitting his prime and his versatility in the middle of the park makes him even more of an attractive option.
He’s hardly been given the opportunity to impress in Germany, having made just 72 appearances in five years for Bayern, but he’s often shown glimpses of brilliance and is reportedly highly rated by Ten Hag.
Arsenal and Tottenham have also shown interest, and Tolisso will likely find offers on the table from all three Premier League clubs. Spurs can offer him Champions League football, but United can offer guaranteed first team minutes – it’s a saga worth keeping an eye on.
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