Blaise Matuidi’s future uncertain; what could he offer?

Manchester United sold Morgan Schneiderlin in January, ending the saga of a player who was believed to be the successor to Michael Carrick. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who replaced him in United’s senior squad (have that for a sentence), departed soon after, supposedly never the answer for Jose Mourinho despite being on remarkably high wages. Thus, United manager Jose Mourinho has reportedly been looking for a central midfielder for a while, and reports today claim the solution could be Paris Saint-Germain’s 30-year-old Blaise Matuidi. Matuidi, a powerful midfielder with an eye for goal and a cannon of a left foot, has captured the eye of many scouts in France, and many believe he could be the solution to a big midfield problem at Manchester United.

What is being reported and by who?

Football 365 France popularized an interview from Blaise Matuidi in which he stated that there’s no confirmation on his future, though the way he spoke about Paris implied he could be looking at another potential destination after a successful tenure with PSG. Suspicions that he may be unhappy at the club were aided by this report from ESPN, in which he confirms that he has the option to stay but hasn’t made his decision yet. Seemingly capitalising on this link and the fact United was reportedly interested in him a year ago, Matuidi has been linked with a £30 million move to Manchester according to the Mirror. Matuidi may have been instructed to drum up interest, as this seems to be the default response from players who seem to be entering contract negotiations. However, at the age of 30 and after six years of loyal serving at PSG, it seems unlikely that they could be winning the Champions League any time soon, and he’d likely believe he has a better chance under Jose Mourinho, with an ambitious summer ahead for Manchester United despite the lack of concrete links between the player and England.

What type of player is Blaise Matuidi?

Matuidi would be best described as an aggressive deep midfielder, starting in deeper areas than most box-to-box midfielders but covering the entire pitch. His stamina is incredible, his 5’9 stature doesn’t do justice to the power he offers in midfield, and he can be a massive threat in the box from set-pieces, and outside the box with the ball at feet. Versatile, Matuidi can play in defensive midfield, central midfield, attacking midfield, and even on the left-wing, with the ground he covers making him the equivalent of having 12 men on the pitch. He famously played a big role in PSG’s 10-man victory over Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League. However, Matuidi is often cited for his lack of overall technical ability, getting squeezed and tormented by elite midfielders when his space is restricted. Almost like Paul Pogba in a sense, the Frenchman lacks the same passing, dribbling, and general finesse in all aspects of play, infamously becoming a target for intelligent opposition teams at the highest level. After a solid start to his World Cup campaign in 2014, he was outplayed by Germany’s central midfield trio of Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Likelihood of the transfer?

There is nothing to suggest this transfer won’t happen, but also nothing to say it will, with almost no concrete link to United. However, these come as a result of the fact that United have reportedly been interested in the player for years, with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho all apparently wanting the player at United. However, he’s 30 years old, not even close to the quality of Herrera and Pogba, and won’t be up for the technical battle of playing in the biggest games. At a cut-price, he’d be the perfect player to line up alongside Michael Carrick and deputise for Paul Pogba in a United side that has only two midfielders capable at the highest level. For £30 million and a starting place in the side, Matuidi will be the disappointment of the summer, but if he’s joining for half that fee to be a squad player and win trophies in his final few years at the top-level, he could prove to be the perfect signing. Unfortunately, with the name and stature of the player, that seems very unlikely, and herein lies the problem.

United do not need eleven players who will change games and try to be the star; they need three to four big-name footballers who are going to fire United through the toughest competitions, surrounded by another eight to nine players ready to make a step up to United, work harder than they ever have before to show their talent and become world class players. Ander Herrera had a world class 2016/17 for Manchester United. United’s main defenders, including Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind, didn’t join the club as big names but have stepped up to the occasion and allowed Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to fire United through difficulties. These are the types of players who are currently needed in United’s midfield, particularly if Antoine Griezmann is joining in the summer. For a player who’s going to be the humble man Jose Mourinho speaks about so frequently, stepping in and out of the side and giving every match their utmost effort, United may need to look elsewhere.

Written by Aaron Moniz


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