Man Utd Transfers: 5 Central Midfielders the Red Devils Could Realistically Target This Summer

Manchester United are well aware that central midfield is an area of the squad that needs boosting, despite the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January. 

But how many and which midfielders the club targets ahead of next season is likely to hinge on the future of Paul Pogba, whether he stays or whether he goes.

Pogba is under contract until 2021, a deal that can be pushed to 2022. The Frenchman has already been heavily linked with Real Madrid for well over a year, but his absence for much of this season as a result of injury and the lengthy recovery process has only fuelled speculation.

Outspoken agent Mino Raiola has covered all bases, both ​leaving the door open to a new contract at Old Trafford and also stirring the pot of a potential transfer by talking up his ​personal ambitions of brokering a transfer to Real Madrid for one of his clients.

Paul Pogba

Other than Pogba, United have the skeleton of a strong central midfield unit. Nemanja Matic, 32, has looked like a player reborn in recent months, while Fred has enjoyed a much more promising second season in Manchester after struggling to impose himself in his first.

Scott McTominay, meanwhile, is maturing and developing nicely.

If Pogba stays, United might settle for bringing in young potential to add further depth and plan for the long-term. If he goes, a more established replacement might have to be on the cards.


Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham

Regardless of the Pogba saga, United will be targeting Birmingham City prodigy Jude Bellingham ahead of next season. The 16-year-old has been a regular in the Championship throughout the current (paused) campaign and it is inevitable he will be on the move.

With a vested interest in the Bundesliga, reports from Germany have understandably been adamant Borussia Dortmund are favourites to sign Bellingham. But 90min has been informed that United are confident they have done enough to tempt the youngster to Manchester.

Manchester City and Liverpool have also been tracking Bellingham, but United are winning.

It had been a concern of the player’s family that moving to a big club may limit his first-team opportunities and impact his development, but United hope he can continue his rapid rise and would be ready to include him in the first-team squad straight away.

Potential price: £30m – £40m


Saúl Ñíguez

Saúl Ñíguez Esclápez

Now comes more of a consideration if Pogba ups and leaves.

United have been linked with all-action Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl – who recently shone against Liverpool in the Champions League – on and off for a number of years as it is, but the rumours of Old Trafford interest in the Spaniard have started up again recently.

Saúl is under contract at Atlético until 2026 after signing a nine-year deal in 2017, but his camp is thought to have been in talks over an improved deal since last summer. That has not yielded an agreement and it has been rumoured Atléti have not offered as much as his agents expect.

The 25-year-old, who is still young enough to be long-term investment, has a release clause that makes him instantly available for approximately £132m, although it has been suggested United have no intention of paying more than about £70m for his services if they make a move.

Potential price: £70m – £132m


N’Golo Kanté

N’Golo Kante

Shorter-term at the age of 29, but perhaps still worthwhile given his global standing and his surprisingly uncertain future at Chelsea is tireless midfield engine N’Golo Kanté.

The Frenchman doesn’t rank highly for creativity, but United should have plenty of that further up the pitch with the likes of Fernandes and another possible ‘number 10’ signing. He will allow others to perform as a result of the stability he brings.

With Chelsea in need of a squad rebuild, and making room for Billy Gilmour, it is not inconceivable that Kanté could be seen as a sellable asset to raise a budget in addition to the as yet unspent £87m brought in when Eden Hazard left to join Real Madrid last summer.

United could face competition from Real, but Chelsea have shown more than once in the past that they are not against doing business with a direct Premier League rival. Juan Mata’s transfer in 2014 is the prime example specific to United in that respect.

Potential price: £70m – £90m


Ruben Neves

Ruben Neves

Wolves star Ruben Neves is effectively the best of both when it comes to choosing between long-term potential and immediate impact. The Portugal international has been one of the Premier League’s best midfielders since 2018, but only recently turned 23.

United need leaders throughout the team and Neves is one, having captained former club Porto in the Champions League when he was still 18 – a competition record.

When Manchester City were linked with the player back at the start of last season, it was reported at the time that Wolves would demand a fee in excess of £100m to sell him.

Potential price: £80m – £110m


Youri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans

Much like Neves, Leicester star Youri Tielemans covers both the long-term and immediate bracket, with the Belgian’s impressive performances a key reason as to why the Foxes re-entered the Champions League conversation this season.

United were briefly linked with the 22-year-old last summer prior to Leicester completing a permanent deal following a season-long loan from Monaco.

Tielemans went for around £40m then, but his price tag will likely have risen sharply since. United also have first-hand experience of how dogged the Foxes can be when it comes to transfer talks, having paid £80m for Harry Maguire after failing to negotiate down last summer.

Potential price: £70m – £90m


Midfield featured in 90min’s list of ‘5 Positions Man Utd Need to Strengthen – Summer 2020’ – click to take a look at the other positions discussed and who the club could sign in each.


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