Manchester United is reportedly looking to further strengthen their midfield with the signing of Barcelona’s metronomic midfielder Ivan Rakitic. While United’s midfield has been very good in the past few weeks, with emphasis on the form of United’s midfield of Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata as United’s three best players of late, United has struggled to win matches without the inclusion of Michael Carrick, and as the Englishman seems older with each passing week, perhaps Ivan Rakitic is the solution.
The report, from The Sun, is partly rooted in reports during the summer that Rakitic was unsettled by Barcelona’s deal for Andre Gomes, which could cost the Catalonian outfit up to £42.5 million should the add-ons come into play. Rakitic’s agent tweeted the words “it’s time to leave” very shortly after Gomes’ signing, and though said agent has never admitted to the correlation, it seems a little bit coincidental.
That being said, Rakitic is comfortably a better midfielder than Gomes, and he has shown his quality on a consistent basis since he was a regular at Sevilla. Rakitic seems to control the game and transition the ball in a similar fashion to Michael Carrick, albeit not from defensive midfield. If he brought the calmness United needs in Carrick’s mould, Rakitic could be the player to take United to the next level in European and domestic competition.
On the other hand, though, Rakitic would be a big-money purchase for a 28-year-old. I don’t understand why he would want to leave Barcelona at this point in time, and while he is stalling on signing a contract, I don’t think that will last a long time either. I can’t imagine that Rakitic is on the type of salary where offloading him would allow Barcelona to keep Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar together, and there will only be problems if he demands a fee that puts the financial balance of the club into jeopardy.
In addition, for the likely cost of the player, who would go for more than Mkhitaryan at a similar age and a longer contract remaining, United could use the money to pursue a position that doesn’t already boast an incredibly gifted core of players. The Red Devils should be looking to offload midfielders, not add them, and with the likely pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann next summer, United will want to spend relatively sparingly on positions in which they already have the strength required to win all competitions in which they currently participate.
That being said, if he becomes available, resisting a player of Rakitic’s quality would be a foolish decision to say the least. He could be the answer to many of United’s problems surrounding Michael Carrick, and while he doesn’t boast the world class defensive ability, he more than makes up for it with playmaking and passing ability among the very best in his position. He has been an incredible coup for Barcelona and I’d imagine he could play a similar role at United.