Why Man United should beat Arsenal to Merih Demiral in January
The 21-year-old centre-back completed a £15million move to Turin from Turkish outfit Alanyaspor in the summer but he has only been afforded a solitary appearance in the Serie A by manager Maurizio Sarri.
Demiral started in Juve’s 2-1 league victory over Hellas Verona in September but the Turk has largely found himself lost in the cold at his new club, with Sarri relying on the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence.
Daniele Rugani and Giorgio Chiellini have struggled for significant game time as well. As a result, Demiral is among a host of players at Turin who currently play bit-part roles.
A youth exponent of Fenerbahce, Demiral has played for Sporting Lisbon but established himself as a regular at Alanyaspor in his homeland before joining Italian outfit Sassuolo on loan in January 2019.
The youngster started 14 games in the Serie A during the second half of the previous campaign and enhanced his stocks with a string of commanding displays at the heart of the defence, which paved the way for a summer move to reigning champions Juventus.
Things, however, haven’t gone according to the script for Demiral this term. As per the report, the 10-cap Turkish international could look for greener pastures in January if his game time doesn’t improve in the coming months.
Man United’s interest in Demiral indicates that the Red Devils are keen on adding more centre-backs, despite signing Harry Maguire from Leicester City.
Maguire and Lindelof have formed a reliable pairing at the heart of the defence under Ole Gunnar Solskajer this season, with United’s record of shipping just 11 goals in 11 league outings being a significant upgrade from the previous campaign.
Notwithstanding the fact that the likes of Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are all on the books at Old Trafford, it is baffling to note that the Red Devils still do not have adequate cover.
With Chris Smalling out on loan at Roma, Jones’ perpetual injury woes and Rojo’s lack of consistency, things look pretty bad. The fact that Bailly will be out of contract next summer only compounds the problem.
Furthermore, United’s defence has improved this term mainly due to the performances of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Maguire, with Lindelof largely blowing hot and cold.
To that end, statistics show that Merih Demiral could, in fact, provide the Swede with some real competition for a place at the back.
As per WhoScored, Demiral, who stands at 6ft 3in, averaged a staggering 3.9 aerial duels per game at Sassuolo last season, which was better than Lindelof’s 2.3 per game.
The Turk won 54 out of a possible 74 aerial duels in the Serie A last season, which amounts to an impressive 73%. On the contrary, Lindelof only managed to win 69 out of a possible 110 duels in the air, amounting to a percentage of 62.72.
Furthermore, Demiral averaged 1.7 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 5.6 clearances per game last term. Lindelof’s numbers look rather bleak in comparison, with 1.3 tackles, 0.8 interceptions and 3.9 clearances.
Stats do not speak the whole story but those numbers are good enough to prove that Merih Demiral is a competent centre-back.
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Taking into consideration their current situation at the back, United would probably need to sell before they buy. But if they are to strengthen their backline further, Merih Demiral would be a smart option.