Manchester United have been linked with moves for Adrien Rabiot and Marko Arnautovic.
Stop rubbing your eyes, you read that correctly.
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After a summer-long chase of Frenkie de Jong appears to have been fruitless (more on that below), United now appear to be scrambling to sign players.
Veteran forward Marko Arnautovic (who last played in the Premier League in 2019 for West Ham) and Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot are the two transfer targets according to multiple reports.
Following their 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton on the opening weekend of the season, it is even clearer that Erik ten Hag needs reinforcements in the remaining three weeks or so of the transfer window. But will Arnautovic and Rabiot actually improve United’s squad?
Rabiot, Arnautovic panic buys?
The Athletic’s David Ornstein has reported that Manchester United have agreed to buy Adrien Rabiot from Juventus (he has less than 12 months left on his current contract) as personal terms are being discussed with his agent, and his mother Veronique.
Rabiot, 27, is a fine player but his career has yet to reach the stage many thought it would at PSG and most recently at Juventus. The French international is a silky player on the ball in central midfield and that would suit Erik ten Hag’s philosophy well.
As it appears that a deal for Frenkie de Jong is close to totally breaking down, a move for Rabiot would make sense but also underlines what we all now know: United aren’t as an attractive a proposition as they once were.
When it comes to Arnautovic, well, the 33-year-old is very talented but when you have Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo as your forward options, is he anything more than a back-up striker? Probably, and he will probably get plenty of minutes in the Europa League if he does join United from Italian side Bologna. Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports believe that United will pay over $10 million to sign Arnautovic.
Arnautovic has scored regularly wherever he’s been, but this is still a very surprising move and continues a worrying trend of buying veteran forwards for United. Where is the long-term plan? Wasn’t Erik ten Hag supposed to give chances to young players? After signing Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Odion Ighalo in recent years, this panic move to buy Arnautovic seems eerily similar.
When it comes to both Rabiot and Arnautovic, both have also been accused of a lack of professionalism and poor attitudes off the pitch, so it is very intriguing to see them linked with United as Erik ten Hag is a stickler for discipline.
De Jong deal off?
Barcelona want to keep Frenkie de Jong but they also want him to significantly reduce his wages. Why? Well, the latest update from The Athletic will shock you.
Barcelona’s current board have accused the former board of ‘criminality’ when it comes to the most recent contract they gave De Jong, and they are willing to take legal action against all parties involved in the deal. The 25-year-old wants to stay at Barcelona despite Manchester United agreeing a contract with the Catalan club many weeks ago, while Barcelona want him to rip up his current contract and return to the deal he was on before.
This latest update may give United a chance to sign De Jong or it may just strengthen the latter’s resolve to remain at Barcelona and get the money he is owed (including close to $19 million in deferred wages) sorted out. What a mess.
United have been trying to sign Frenkie de Jong all summer long and with this move for Rabiot, perhaps they are finally admitting they will not sign the Dutch midfielder. One thing we learned from their defeat against Brighton: they need a creative and calm central midfielder to implement what Erik ten Hag wants this entire team to do.