Eduardo Camavinga and Saul Niguez were two midfielders heavily linked with Manchester United this summer.
Both players left Rennes and Atletico Madrid respectively on deadline day, but neither arrived at Old Trafford. Camavinga joined Real Madrid – the Frenchman always preferred a move to Spain over United – while Chelsea signed Saul on loan for the season.
Although United enjoyed a transfer window reminiscent of the glory days from over a decade ago this summer, bringing Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo to the club, it’s ironic they overlooked their biggest, glaring weakness.
It’s become increasingly apparent during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign that his side lacks an astute defensive midfielder, someone who can offer the back four protection while able to read and disrupt the opponents’ passages of play to regain possession.
Against Wolves, the United boss asked Paul Pogba to play alongside Fred in the double pivot and the consequences of the pair attempting to work in tandem swiftly became clear as the Reds’ hosts utterly controlled the game in midfield.
Mason Greenwood’s late goal bailed United out at Molineux and their pedestrian performance was hidden by one moment of individual brilliance but, after that game, supporters took to social media to stress a new defensive midfielder was needed.
Although fans were still high on the announcement of Ronaldo’s return, signing a new midfielder remained at the top of their agenda.
They didn’t get their wish as the transfer deadline passed on Tuesday at 11 pm and therefore Solskjaer will have to play with the cards he’s been dealt with, however, he could be holding an ace in the pack without yet knowing it.
Jose Mourinho touted the possibility of Victor Lindelof playing in defensive midfield across his tenure at United and it’s not a ludicrous suggestion to think the Swede could move into the centre of the pitch this term – Raphael Varane is expected to be ahead of him.
Harry Maguire is viewed as one of the Premier League’s finest passers for a defender, but Lindelof completed 90 per cent of his passes last season while Maguire successfully made 87 per cent of his passes and the 27-year-old has a history in a midfield position.
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“I started my footballing career as a midfielder,” Lindelof has previously explained and he’s demonstrated across his time playing for United and Sweden that he possesses the required skillset to make a flawless transition back to where he originally played.
United are set to play Newcastle, Young Boys and West Ham after the international break reaches its conclusion and it would be wise for Solskjaer to execute such an experiment with Lindelof sooner rather than later before United play tougher opponents.
United fans have grown tired of the current midfield crop and Solskjaer would have nothing to lose.