Why Manchester United must go all out to sign Thomas Partey this summer
Manchester United drew 2-2 with AC Milan in their final pre-season fixture on Saturday afternoon in Cardiff, before winning the game 5-4 on penalty shootouts.
The Red Devils enjoyed a positive pre-season tour, winning all their six games and will certainly enter the new campaign on a high. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still trying to put the finishing touches for a make-or-break season at Old Trafford.
But with less than five days to go before the transfer window closes, the Norwegian tactician knows that time is rapidly running out to get things sorted.
As things currently stand, United have signed only two players in Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and while the club has agreed on a world-record £85million fee with Leicester City to sign Harry Maguire, the final pre-season game against AC Milan displayed that the United midfield was the weakest link.
In Paul Pogba’s absence, United’s double-pivot in the 4-2-3-1 system consisted of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic on Saturday.
McTominay has cemented his first-team starter status over the last month yet Matic continues to be the weak link, as the Serbian struggled to cope with Milan’s pressing and was robbed off the ball that allowed Suso to equalise 1-1.
Matic is no longer good enough to play in a holding midfield role for United. He is too pedestrian on and off the ball and offers little in terms of mobility.
Solskjaer should have strengthened the midfield following Ander Herrera’s departure but so far, there haven’t been any central midfield reinforcements.
Back in May, a report from the Manchester Evening News had claimed that the speculation has gone cold of late. However, with time running out in the transfer window, the Reds must rekindle their interest in the Atletico Madrid star and attempt to sign him.
Thomas Partey, 25, has been one of Atletico’s consistent performers over the last few seasons in the La Liga. He enjoyed a really good 2018/19 campaign, scoring three goals and providing six assists in 42 games for Los Rojiblancos. The midfielder was also named Ghana player of the year for the second successive time last month.
The Ghana international is a well-rounded midfielder but it’s his defensive qualities that stand out. He is a strong presence in the middle of the park, known for his tenacity and aggression. The 25-year-old can also move up the pitch and fabricate scoring opportunities for his teammates.
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Partey is a tenacious tackler and an even better ball-winner, certainly capable of enhancing Solskjaer’s midfield unit that has been decimated with the departure of Herrera.
United must invest in a real, mobile defensive midfielder this transfer window to replace Matic. Partey could be that player and the Red Devils certainly could afford to meet his release fee, i.e. €50m.