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Is Toni Kroos the right target for Manchester United?

Reports surfaced from Guillem Balague at Sky Sports, revealing that Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos could be leaving Spain in the summer. Balague also highlighted Manchester United’s interest in the player. After winning the World Cup in 2014 with Germany, Kroos departed Bayern Munich with a dream to play for Real Madrid, but according to reports he is now unsettled at the Bernabeu.

Player Profile

Toni Kroos is a versatile midfielder, able to play in any of the central midfield positions. Known for his ability to control games with his passing, Kroos is often compared to generational greats such as Xavi and Pirlo. Kroos was named in the best XI of the 2014 World Cup after a series of midfield masterclasses (most notably in the 7-1 win against Brazil) that took the tournament by storm. These performances are not uncommon from the German either; against Arsenal in the Champions League in 2014, Kroos completed almost as many passes as the entire Arsenal side, highlighting his seamless control of games at his best.

Despite Kroos not being at his sharpest this season, his passing statistics are incredible nonetheless. Kroos completes 93.8% of his 80 passes per game, the second-highest of any (regularly played) footballer in Europe’s Top 5 Leagues. Kroos averages almost two key passes per 90 minutes for Real Madrid. WhoScored highlights Kroos’ only weakness as aerial duels, a weakness that could be hidden if he is alongside Morgan Schneiderlin.

Advantages

United fans are openly critical of Marouane Fellaini’s performances, and he has been linked with moves to various Italian clubs. The purchase of Kroos would allow United the tactical diversity and depth to set up two full midfield units without Fellaini. To add, Michael Carrick is an ageing presence and, though he is still spectacular to watch at his best, he needs to be replaced eventually. Kroos is strikingly similar in many departments.

With Schneiderlin and Carrick more strict to a defensive position and Juan Mata only in contention for a role further up the pitch, Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera would give United more than enough drive from midfield, as well as the defensive nous to rest Morgan Schneiderlin once in a while. A primary midfield trio of Schneiderlin, Herrera and Kroos is a well-rounded trio, with tenacity, composure, defence, attack, passing and dribbling all in mind. Kroos gives United more power and more versatility in midfield.

Often United’s midfield cannot create chances for the front three and the two units can be separated very easily. Kroos counters this very well with his ability to pass between the lines and pick out loose runners. Kroos is also known for his ability to create goals from midfield, tallying up at nine assists in 2,730 minutes of football this season (an assist every 303 minutes). Juan Mata has nine assists and Anthony Martial has eight, but both have played far more football than Kroos this season, and in a more advanced position, showing that Kroos is a clear improvement on United’s current crop.

Disadvantages

Midfield is arguably United’s best position, and the injection of Kroos may not be required. The managerial situation is very much unpredictable at United right now, and odds are that Kroos could be unfavoured by a new manager. That, combined with the hefty fee at which Kroos would come in (touted £40 million), prove that investing such a large fee with such uncertainty could be a poor decision on United’s part.

Though Kroos is a fantastic player, there is something to be said about a player who does not fit in at Real Madrid. Kroos has been unable to nail his place in the side, and has been dropped from the team on many occasions this season. If United is looking to reestablish themselves at the same standard of football as clubs like Real Madrid, perhaps there is a red flag over Kroos’ name.

In addition, reports stated that Louis van Gaal rejected the opportunity to sign Kroos in 2014. The likely expectation for van Gaal to remain manager of the club is to achieve Champions League qualification (for financial reasons), and if he fails this target it is unlikely a player of Kroos’ caliber will have Manchester United as his first choice.

Overall

Kroos is in the top bracket of world footballers, and United needs more of such players in their ranks. A player like Kroos is very well fitted with Louis van Gaal’s current style of football, as he could add some attacking verve and some more movement in possession. However, with United’s managerial situation in loom, United should avoid spending such hefty fees with that large an uncertainty. Manchester United needs to sort out deeper issues at the club before looking at transferring in new players. If situations change around the club, Kroos could be the beginning of a brighter 16/17 season at Old Trafford.

The article was researched and written by Aaron Moniz.

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