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Malcom – Just who is he and why is he attracting attention from Manchester United?

The January transfer window is fastly approaching and Manchester United need creativity in the squad to get through the remainder of the season and that means one thing – lots of transfer rumours. United have been linked to many players already but a certain name keeps appearing. Not Gareth Bale this time, it is Malcom. Some will question who he is. Others will question why United are interested and some will even buy into the rumour, talk about it as if it is a matter of fact and already refer to him as a Manchester United player.

Jose Mourinho has ‘reportedly’ been handed anything from £70 million to £90 million, depending on which newspaper you read. He has also been told he needs to sell players before he can buy, which goes against what other rumours are suggesting. That can only mean one thing – nobody knows how much money Mourinho has nor whether he has to sell players in order to buy. The only thing which is visible right now is that United need to delve into the market and bring in players for areas looking pretty stagnant right now.

Malcom has previously been targeted by Liverpool and plies his trade in the Ligue 1 in France, playing for Bordeaux. Many will disrespect players from this league due to the quality of some of the teams, being that Paris Saint-Germain (four) and AS Monaco (once) were the only league champions from this league in the last five years. There are some players in the league who will attract more interest than others and Malcom seems to be a player who has caught the eye of Jose Mourinho, at least according to the media, who have a scattergun approach to transfer rumours.

Sometimes the media link a player to United just to attract traffic to their respective websites, then if that particular player moves to another club or remains at his current club, it will set up another ‘scoop’ stating how Manchester United failed to sign the player, perhaps one they were never even interested in. Still, that seems to be how it goes with the media in this day and age, less reporting facts, more reporting opinions and news which can only be made up by themselves or ‘other sources’.

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Who is Malcom?

Malcom was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil on the 26th February 1997, currently 20 years old. The Brazilian U23 international has played 77 times for his club, scoring 18 goals, seven of which have come this season. In January 2016, after many European clubs had shown interest in the Brazilian, Bordeaux signed Malcom from Corinthians for a fee said to be around £4 million. That may be a figure the club will see a return of, and some more, if they are interested in selling him. This season, Malcom has played 17 times, twice from the bench, scoring seven goals and assisting four more.

Malcom has scored twice against Olympique Lyonnais and once against Paris Saint-Germain this season, also scoring against Toulouse, Nantes, Saint-Etienne and Dijon. His four assists came against Guingamp, Troyes, Metz and Angers. Bordeaux are not currently in a European competition – failing to qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Europa League earlier in the season. After 18 matches in Ligue 1 this season, Bordeaux sit in 15th place, winning five, drawing three and losing ten matches. The position in the league does not necessarily mean Malcom is a bad player.

The Brazilian’s stats this season suggest he could be a player of use to United. In 17 appearances he has scored seven goals and assisted four more. He has had 41 shots on goal, 21 of those being on target – meaning he has a shot on target average of 51%, around one in two shots is on target. In the Premier League, his stats may not be so good but with better players around him, it could help him thrive. Malcom is averaging 5.4 attempted crosses this season, 1.5 of them accurate, which is better than Ivan Perisic, who averages 5.3 attempted crosses with 0.8 of them accurate.

Perisic was a player Mourinho wanted to sign in the summer but it never happened with reports suggesting United would not pay the asking price, the player suggesting he snubbed United to remain at Inter Milan. Perhaps the truth will never come out as to why the move never materialised, but the asking price of the player, who is 28, was a bit high and something United supporters moaned about when it seemed a move was close to being completed.

Where does Malcom play for Bordeaux?

Bordeaux’s manager, Jocelyn Gourvennec is known to like the traditional 4-4-2 formation but changed to 4-2-3-1 this season. Malcom plays on the right, an area United need to strengthen. This season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have all played on the right-wing, none of whom have mastered in the position – not to be negative against any of the players. Martial and Rashford are more suited to the left or in a central role, Lingard and Mata play better centrally and Mkhitaryan has been missing for the last six matches.

I am presuming that if Perisic had signed for United, despite playing on the left, he may have been a player to occupy the right side of the flank. That is only an assumption though. Malcom has seemingly been allowed to play to his strengths, which has not worked out well for his club but his performances have put him in the ‘shop window’ with clubs interested in him again. If the Brazilian is not given defensive duties, which may not be the case at United, he can drift into the pitch in pockets of space, taking his chances or creating them for his teammates.

His crossing ability, which is comparable to Perisic would be something United could capitalise on. Imagine a near perfect crosser of the ball putting in the passes for Romelu Lukaku, who when in the box waiting for passes to be placed, is very dangerous. Lukaku has scored many headed goals during his career, a few for United this season. Getting this right could be important for United. Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the attack, or even Rashford or Martial. The chances created could be the difference between United achieving something this season, or not.

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Could a deal happen between Manchester United and Bordeaux for Malcom?

This is something that many can and will predict and maybe get wrong. It would be wrong to suggest United were not interested in the player, but also wrong to suggest they are. United do not tell everyone about their targets as that would be stupid. Imagine if Jose Mourinho told the media he wanted Malcom. That would see his price rise and other teams head into the market trying to get the player United wanted. If clubs operated this way, it would see the market even more inflated and it is inflated enough right now.

Bordeaux paid £4 million for Malcom in January 2016 and he would sell for a much higher figure. Whilst players at Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco can charge what they like for their players, teams such as Bordeaux will not have that added ability, but they will not let a team take advantage of that. Malcom seems to be a talented prospect and that would be what he was if United signed him. He is not a proven talent, especially in a tough league like the Premier League, so United would not want to pay much for him, which would add to the risk.

If United were interested in Malcom, despite the media suggesting United will not splurge in the market unless there was a clear run at targets, which again is something any club would say. United will not tell anyone their plans for the winter window, which could end up seeing them missing out on targets. Mourinho is no different to Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to buying players, those who need to know will know before it happens, those who do not need to know, which is everyone else, will know if or when a move happens.

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