Manchester United face a conundrum in trying to decide which young attacking midfielder to bring to Old Trafford, but the answer could be simple.
When one takes a glance at the current Manchester United team they may scratch their foreheads, furrow their brows and look up to the heavens in dismay. Where is the creativity in midfield? They might ask.
The question is valid and pertinent. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have often struggled against lesser teams in trying to play against defences who have retreated to a more deep lying formation thus preventing the pace of Rashford and Martial to run in behind. In those situations a creative spark would have been the solution to United’s woes but the squad is devoid of such an option.
Now with the January transfer window upon us it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scratching his head when he reads the plethora of transfer targets provided to him by the club’s scouts in order to solve this problem. Among that list are three English talents who will no doubt attract the Norwegian boss’s interests the most in Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell, Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Leicester City’s James Maddison.
All three have been linked with a move to Old Trafford in January and Solskjaer and his board will now mule over the trios extensive talents and decide which one would suit the Red Devils the most.
On paper perhaps the question is simple. James Maddison has been linked with United the most. The Leicester City midfielder has also had two Premier League seasons behind him which proves he is no fluke or one season wonder. Yet the fee demanded for him is also a lot higher. Leicester have set their asking price at around £80m which is a hefty fee even in today’s market.
Jack Grealish and Todd Cantwell would both cost considerably less.
Statistically the trio have scored the same amount of goals with each player hitting the back of the net six times this season in the Premier League. Whilst they all play in similar positions each player bring something different. Todd Cantwell has flair and composure to his game, his first touch and his ability to find himself in the right positions would give United more fluidity in their midfield. James Maddison on the other hand is more direct, he has pace the pace to beat his opponents and the creativity too. Jack Grealish meanwhile plays with grace and elegance and has a potent shooting range in the same ilk as David Beckham.
Out of the three James Maddison has created the most big chances this season with five, whereas Jack Grealish has only conjured up three and Todd Cantwell a mere one. Yet this could also be down to Maddison playing for a team who attack more regularly whereas Cantwell and Grealish both play for relegation strugglers where the emphasis is on defending.
The choice is tough. All three will undoubtedly have huge careers in the game. In terms of age, Grealish is 24, Maddison 23 and Cantwell is only 21 which would suggest he still has the most development to make.
The fact that Todd Cantwell is only valued at £30m by Norwich and that he is already hitting similar numbers to both Grealish and Maddison might just be the clincher for United. Whilst his name might not be as glamorous as his counterparts it could be the smartest signing from the three. At a low value it is a low risk move.
With that being said, Manchester United’s midfield could arguably do with signing all three. Or just even two. It is in such dire need of a revamping.
The ball is now in Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hand. Only time will tell what their next move will be.
All stats are taken from the Premier League’s official website.
What do you think who should Manchester United sign?