Despite having an incomplete squad, Manchester United are somehow 3rd in the Premier League table. Their major problem this season is their midfield and defense, their defense is immature while their midfield has many voids due to which Rooney is forced to play as a central midfielder. Hence to avoid problems in the future Louis Van Gaal has targeted some midfielders for the summer window and one of them is Zenit’s Belgian superstar Axel Witsel. Let us now analyze Axel’s playing style and find out whether he has the potential to solve Man United’s crisis.
Witsel’s Playing Style
Axel is a versatile midfielder whose comfort zone is central midfield area, whether it is pivot, attacking or defensive he can adapt himself according to the requirements. His major strengths are his pinpoint passing, flawless dribbling, he is also an excellent header of the ball and an aerial threat and he is a player who barely takes his eyes of the ball. He does not have many weaknesses but his tackles aren’t well timed which may lead to bookings and this is a major drawback.
Witsel is one of those midfielders who never scores goals, never assists any goal and neither does he create any chance but still his presence is very important for the team. Witsel is a classic box to box midfielder whose job is to be a part of every activity that is happening on the field. He feeds the ball to the attacking midfielders who are either creating chances or try to assist the forward. To be precise, his job is to win the ball by any means that are tackling, intercepting or in the air and pass it to others. He sometimes also plays as a defensive midfielder because of his good aerial abilities, interception and reading. He is also a good pivot who when paired with a world class midfielder can do great things.
Is He The Missing Piece In The Jigsaw?
Manchester United’s midfield is currently filled with the likes of many great midfielders like Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini but none of them is good enough for the central role in Van Gaal’s eyes. Manchester United use 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 formation with a duo of 2 midfielders behind the forwards or one defensive midfielder and one pivot pair followed by two strikers.
At Man United Witsel can be paired with Blind where Blind will be a defensive midfielder and Witsel as a central midfielder or a deep lying play maker. But this duo will have many drawbacks as Witsel does not contribute much in attack due to which the forwards and wingers will not get enough chances to score goals. Taking Axel’s strengths into consideration, the duo of Mata and Witsel will turn out to be a disaster and the pivot pair of Herrera and Witsel may or may not work as both these players possess the same set of skills.
Manchester United don’t need a player like Witsel as they already have Herrera who is a replica of Witsel on the field. In fact the addition of Axel in the squad may lead to unrests. Because of Carrick not being in good shape and departure of Fletcher, what Man United need is versatile veteran midfielder (aged 29-33) who will add experience in the midfield and provide varied dynamism. Such midfielders will be satisfied with a squad rotation role. Many experienced midfielders like Bastian Schweinsteiger, James Milner etc will be available on either free transfer or at a very economical price during the upcoming summer window.