Manchester United have turned their attention to Adrien Rabiot to resolve their midfield issues as talks for Frenkie de Jong continue to stall. Here, sky sports examines why they chose to move for the polarizing Frenchman…
The move comes from left field after a summer pursuit of Barcelona midfielder De Jong, and was met with skepticism by supporters. It wasn’t until Friday that United manager Erik ten Hag said it was important to sign ‘the right player’ rather than buy anyone when asked about the slow pace of business club this summer.
The France international has failed to make a substantial impact at Juventus since signing a free transfer from PSG and drama seems to follow him wherever he goes. Never far behind is his mother and his agent, Véronique.
Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Brighton was a wake-up call for Ten Hag as it laid bare the need for midfield reinforcements. Rabiot is now lined up to remedy these issues.
A broad deal for Rabiot’s transfer has been reached with Juventus, and United still believe there is a deal to be done for De Jong. The possibility of signing both has not been ruled out, with the central midfielder identified as a priority area for reinforcement this summer.
Who is Adrian Rabiot?
Rabiot established himself in the Paris Saint-Germain first team after coming through the academy and won five Ligue 1 titles in seven seasons. The midfielder has made 227 appearances for PSG, scoring 24 goals.
He left in controversial circumstances in 2019 after being frozen out by the club for failing to agree a new contract. PSG felt they had been deceived about his intentions, while his mother claimed he was leaving to “buy his freedom”.
Rabiot was highly sought after when it became clear he would be on the move, with Bayern Munich and Barcelona among those interested, before eventually signing for Juventus.
He has failed to set Serie A on fire since joining Turin and, after four years, the Italian side are ready to let Rabiot go as he approaches the final year of his contract.
Rabiot was picked as part of France’s reserve squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia but pulled out as he refused to be a substitute and watched his teammates lift the trophy.
Didier Deschamps brought him back into the Euro 2020 fold, and Rabiot started three of the four matches they played before being knocked out by Switzerland on penalties in the last 16.
“You look at some of the numbers he’s produced and wonder if he’s that impressive,” European football expert Kevin Hatchard told Sky Sports News.
“But when you think of the coaches he played with and the teams he played for – regular for PSG, Juventus and he played under Didier Deschamps with France – and you feel there must be something something tangible there that the coaches see.”
Where would Rabiot fit in at Man Utd?
Ten Hag has tended to line up with two midfielders behind Bruno Fernandes since joining United. One in a deeper role, which is the position the former Ajax coach so desperately wants to fill with De Jong, and another operating a little higher up the pitch as a box-to midfielder. -box.
Fred was used in the deeper role against Brighton, while Scott McTominay pushed further up the pitch. Their inability to advance the ball from deep made for frustrating viewing and gave Brighton plenty of encouragement to press.
sky sports Pundit Roy Keane said United’s midfielders lacked “decision-making” and “football intelligence” as he tore McFred apart. “They’re not good enough,” Keane told Sky Sports. “They won’t bring Manchester United back to the top. We see that week after week. They’re not up to it.”
Rabiot played both of those roles with Juventus, PSG and France but struggled to find his best position. The 27-year-old has also spent time playing on the left of a narrow four-man midfield or as a full-back.
Hatchard Unclear where Rabiot would fit into Ten Hag’s system but believes the midfielder is an improvement over the options United already have.
“Technically he’s probably better than someone like Fred or Scott McTominay,” Hatchard said. Sky Sports News. “Maybe he can progress the ball a bit better. He plays with intensity because he’s a bit of a character and someone who can interrupt play.
“He can do a bit of everything and it will be interesting to see how Erik ten Hag uses him. Does he want him in the role McTominay played against Brighton, pressing play?”
What does Rabiot bring?
Above all, Rabiot’s arrival would address the lack of deeper midfield options available to Ten Hag in a summer that saw Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic leave on free transfers.
His defensive stats show he would provide stability in transition. Opponents dribbled past Rabiot just 0.8 times every 90 minutes last season – fewer than any other United midfielder.
Rabiot’s stats from last season show that he is also good in terms of tackling and success rate in duels.
But he fails to top any of the key passing metrics from United’s current options, raising concerns about the impact he could have on the ball’s progression from deep.
“You look at it and you think, ‘What’s the plan here? What are they trying to achieve in the long term,” Hatchard said.
“The intensity with which Adrien Rabiot plays could rub off on other players [in a bad way].
“What we know for sure is that they need quality and body in midfield because they don’t have that at the moment.
“If it’s considered a swap between Paul Pogba one way and Rabiot the other, I’d say Juventus got the better deal.”