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Five Ligue 1 players Manchester United should target

Manchester United’s pursuit of top talent in Europe will likely include a quest into the French top-tier, a division that has coated itself in glory this year as Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco coated themselves in glory in the Champions League this season (albeit with an awful end twist for PSG). While they certainly are clubs striving to reach the top of Europe, they don’t have the same appeal or competition of weekly football as Manchester United in England.

Should United qualify for the Champions League next season, they would be considered a bigger and better project than any club in France under Jose Mourinho, and thus, they would be able to attract some of the best talents in France. And considering the gems that feature on this list, it wouldn’t be a bad option whatsoever.

5. Djibril Sidibe, Fullback, AS Monaco

This list is commenced by one of Monaco’s many talented footballers, Djibril Sidibe, who is France’s starting right-back at just 24 years of age. Sidibe, who provides incredible fitness and energy to maraud Monaco’s entire flank for 90 minutes, is easily comparable to Antonio Valencia, with the added advantage of being able to cover on the left.

Sidibe would solve United’s fullback problems the way everyone thought Matteo Darmian would when he signed before Louis van Gaal’s second season. Darmian is a decent defender but he doesn’t offer the product and crossing ability in either fullback position, which Valencia has on so many occasions this season.

4. Tiemoue Bakayoko, Midfielder, AS Monaco

Looking for the perfect physical presence to partner Paul Pogba, Tiemoue Bakayoko represents a young option that would be ideal for a Jose Mourinho player for years to come. While Ander Herrera and Pogba are likely to start the easy matches in which United is likely to have to break down a deep defence, a third midfielder to slot in behind is often needed.

Bakayoko is proficient in possession, winning three tackles and 3.3 interceptions per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 this season, and with much more reputable passing than Marouane Fellaini, Bakayoko could be the perfect replacement for the Belgian, who has done a job for United off the ball this season but negates the way the Red Devils play football on the ball. A physical player with decent height and the technical skills to be a world-class player for years to come, United could do a lot worse in replacing the Afro.

3. Bernardo Silva, Attacking Midfielder, AS Monaco

Heavily linked to the club in recent weeks, anyone who has watched Bernardo Silva play for Monaco this season would be excited at the prospect of him lining up on the right wing for the Red Devils. United’s right wing options this season include Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Jesse Lingard, but all three are better centrally and would be released by the freedom of a winger who attacks the fullback with his dribbling quality.

Silva is best known for his acceleration and skills, able to get to the byline or cut inside on his stronger foot and swing a cross into the box. He’d be the only natural wide threat at the club, and one who works hard defensively at that. Plus, he adds end product, as illustrated by his 6 goals and 9 assists in Ligue 1 this season.

2. Marco Verratti, Midfielder, Paris Saint-Germain

While Bakayoko would be a good option, the midfielder who would undoubtedly revolutionize United if he joined the club is Marco Verratti, a diminutive dictator of the football pitch who promises to be the next legendary midfielder in a string of Italians who have changed the game. Heralded alongside Paul Pogba as the best young midfield talent in the game, Verratti would command a fee that isn’t all that much lower than Pogba himself, if he’s even available to United this summer.

Some say he’s the natural successor to Andres Iniesta, but he has a defensive edge about his football as well and could protect Ander Herrera, allowing the Spaniard and potential captain to play in the deepest role while Pogba and Verratti dictate the game further forward. Easily would be the best midfield in football in a few years, and if this guy is available, he simply must be signed.

1. Fabinho, Midfielder, AS Monaco

Verratti isn’t necessarily a realistic signing, but Fabinho is, and he ticks all the boxes required to be a star at United. Fabinho’s metronomic passing has been integral to Monaco conquering most three-man midfield units with just himself and Bakayoko, and his style sees him directly comparable to Michael Carrick. His performances in the Champions League carry him to the next level.

Perhaps best of all, Fabinho can play at right-back, finally putting an end to the awful deployment of Ashley Young as a fullback and instilling proper defenders into the side. As aforementioned, Pogba and Herrera will spend a lot of time as a midfield duo, but between playing right-back and defensive midfield, Fabinho could still be a very important player for Monaco.

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