A Perfect Matic Alternative? Why Manchester United Should Turn Their Attention To This 128 Cap Defensive Midfielder

Jose Mourinho has made no secret of the fact that he is getting frustrated at the lack of business by Manchester United in the summer transfer window. The Red Devils have brought in Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof already, but the Portuguese tactician is growing frustrated at the club not being able to sign a defensive midfielder.  

The defensive midfield has been earmarked as one of the most important positions that Mourinho wants to reinforce, but they haven’t been able to bring in any player, despite being strongly linked with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier.  

While Spurs are firm in their stance that Dier will not be sold at any cost, Chelsea are willing to sell Matic, but the clubs haven’t been able to agree on a fee as of yet and the bad blood between them following the Lukaku transfer saga could also be hindering a potential deal. 

With no real progress being made, according to reports, United have decided to turn their attention towards RSC Anderlecht’s defensive midfielder Leander Dendoncker (Metro). The Anderlecht academy graduate broke through the first team back in 2013/14 and has never looked back since then. Dendoncker, till date, has racked up 128 appearances for the club, scoring 10 times and has also played twice for the Belgium national team.  

The 22-year old was one of the most stand out players in Belgium last season as his team ran away with the league title and made it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League. He accumulated 57 appearances across all competitions last season, scoring six times. With the 2017/18 Belgian Jupiler League already underway, the midfielder has made one appearance so far.  

The midfield anchorman, in many ways, fits the profile of the player Jose is on the lookout for. Standing tall at 6ft 2in, Dendoncker is strong and meets the physical requirements that Mourinho wants in his midfielders. A force to be reckoned in the air – his headed goal against United in the Europa League was an example; and a no-nonsense tackler, he is adept at sitting in front of the backline and break up play all day long due to his impressive reading of the game and situation awareness.  

And it is not the defensive side of the game that he impresses with. Dendoncker is tactically very astute and technically exceptional as well. His two-footed nature, combined with his ability to spray accurate long balls into the advanced areas of the pitch make him an ideal option to have to launch quick counter attacks or switch play effectively. The 22-year is also able to unleash fierce shots at goal from distance when presented with an opportunity.  

But, it is his intelligence when on the ball and his excellent range of distribution that is the most pleasing aspect of his game. The Belgian is always looking to play the ball forward the moment he gets on it and with his technique and vision, invariably ends up finding a teammate in a promising position.  

Dendoncker also likes to drive forward any given chance, which might be a bit of a hindrance when playing alongside Paul Pogba, who will be the midfielder granted the most attacking freedom in Mourinho’s setup. But if the 22-year old manages to curb that natural tendency to raid into the attacking third and instead sits deep and holds fort, he will, without a doubt, be the ideal player for Jose and United.  

Dendoncker is young, promising and has gained plenty of experience already – even in European competitions. At 22, he has his best years ahead of him and if United manage to sign him, they will have found a solution for the midfield troubles for years to come. And with the latest reports from the Metro claiming that the player could be available for as less as £22 million in the summer, it is a no-brainer really! What are you waiting for Jose?

Written by Raghavendra Goudar

Mechanical Engineer, avid reader and a football fanatic.

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