Manchester United are expected to recruit a midfielder before the summer transfer window closes later today, and while a specific Moroccan midfielder appears to be the primary target, contingency measures appear to have been prepared.
What’s the latest on Youssouf Fofana’s potential move to Manchester United?
According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, United manager Erik ten Hag has had a formal offer for Youssouf Fofana rejected by French club Monaco.
The Italian journalist also recently confirmed that Manchester United have asked Monaco for the terms of a loan deal for Fofana, with Inter Milan also contacting the Ligue 1 club, but manager Adi Hutter will only consider a permanent sale because Monaco “don’t want to let Fofana leave on loan.”
How talented is Youssouf Fofana?
While the Red Devils have targeted Fofana for a move, it is Fiorentina’s Moroccan midfielder Sofyan Amrabat who is the most wanted name at the Theatre of Dreams, with Romano claiming yesterday that the club is set to reopen negotiations with Amrabat.
The Premier League side has six points from their first three games, but they did not seem entirely convincing in any game, with two contentious decisions working in Old Trafford’s favor to secure slim victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest.
Amrabat is sought after for his first-rate passing abilities and persistence in the center, having played a key role in Morocco’s incredible 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar, with the 26-year-old being dubbed the “best central midfielder in the tournament” by reporter Carlo Garganese.
According to FBref, the £32k-per-week powerhouse ranks among the top 1% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for pass completion and the top 2% for passes attempted and progressive passes per 90 over the past year, highlighting the kind of crisp composure Ten Hag desires to take United to the next level.
While he is undeniably one of the best ball-playing midfielders in the game, United may want a more all-encompassing cog in the center to get the machine up and running.
The French machine was a key component of Monaco’s 2022/23 season and demonstrated his rounded skill set with his league performances last year, earning an average Sofascore rating of 6.85, completing 82% of his passes, making 1.6 interceptions and 2.3 tackles per game, and averaging 0.9 key passes per match, having been hailed as a “magnificent” player by talent scout Jacek Kulig.
In instance, while Amrabat completed 90% of his passes with La Viola in Serie A last season, he only averaged 1.3 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game, as well as only making 0.4 passes per game, making him less influential in moving the ball.
Fofana also rates among the top 11% of midfielders in terms of progressive passes, 14% in terms of progressive carries, and 15% in terms of successful take-ons per 90 minutes, demonstrating his dynamic presence and propensity to drive the ball upfield.
Finances may play a role, with Monaco demanding a permanent sale and Fiorentina indicating a willingness to conduct business on an initial loan.
And, while Amrabat is a fantastic player, Ten Hag must consider a more dynamic option to raise the collective level of the Red Devils group, and if a deal is possible, he must do so.