Manchester United seeking deal with Valencia for 20-year-old midfielder

Manchester United are seeking a deal with Spanish side Valencia for midfield star Carlos Soler. The 20-year-old was linked with the Old Trafford club in the summer and at that time it was suggested he could be the long-term replacement for Michael Carrick, who signed a new one-year deal last summer and will be expected to hang up his boots at the end of the current season. Carrick has spent much of the current season on the sidelines through injury with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini absentees too, leaving just Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera as the experienced midfielders.

United manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly looking to add dynamism to his ‘engine room’ and Soler is a player that would offer just that. The Spain U21’s star has had an impressive career to date, which is why the Portuguese manager has seemingly made a swift move for the player, at least according to reports. At times this season and last, United played in a 4-3-3 formation with a three-man midfield. That is the favoured formation of Pogba, who United have missed over the past month or so with him being out of action. Soler, should a move actually happen, could be the player United have been seeking to convert to that formation.

Soler has been scouted by United for some time now and at a stage last season, he was available for €8 million, the release clause set for him at the time. That release clause had risen to €30 million as he had played in more first team matches, but so far this season, his current release clause is suggested to be £75 million, a similar fee to that of Romelu Lukaku, who made the move from Everton to United last summer. If Soler is going to be that player, it is safe to say his club value him highly.

Soler has been a regular starter for Valencia four about two years now, making the step up from Valencia’s reserve side – he had been a Valencia player since he was seven years old. The player had recently spoken about his release clause, not mentioning the exact number, but suggesting he had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Soler said:

“That’s something that’s done by the club, by agents.

“When I go out on the pitch to play, I’m not thinking: ‘wow, I’ve got a really high buy-out clause and I’ve got a lot of responsibility on my shoulders.'”

Soler has played nine matches for Valencia this season, all in La Liga. He has scored one goal, which was against Real Madrid in the 2-2 draw between the two sides on the 27th August 2017. Based on his individual statistics for Valencia in La Liga, Soler would be a player who could form a great midfield trio with Pogba and Matic. He has averaged an 84% pass success, with an average of 17 metres per pass, also creating 15 chances for his teammates, four of those becoming assists. Soler has a 67% shot accuracy, having 15 shots, eight of them on target. He has also averaged at least one defensive action per league match, which demonstrates his ability to be in the area where play currently is.

Soler, if United’s interest is solid, which could well be based on the time the Old Trafford club have been scouting him, but that said, they have spent time scouting many other players over the years, many not actually seeing solid interest coming from the club. The fee could be something which may deter United from signing the player, but if you look at the summer, for instance, when Inter Milan learned of United’s apparent interest in Ivan Perisic, they demanded such a high fee for the player so that said, other targets could end up costing United similar fees. It would all depend on whether Valencia would be prepared to make a deal rather than going down the release clause route.

Manchester United scouting Carlos Soler, an option to replace Michael Carrick?

Carlos Soler Barragán may not be a name many have seen linked with Manchester United, probably because he is a player that made his debut for Valencia earlier this season and was brought to the attention of the United scouting team, reportedly impressing at stages this season. Soler turned 20 on the 2nd January 2017, so has a big career ahead of him. Many will wonder why a player so young has attracted the attention of Jose Mourinho’s team; there will be two reasons for this. Soler has had a good season, seemingly being Valencia’s shining light. The other is that Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes has apparently alerted the Portuguese manager of the player and his potential. This season, Soler has made 22 appearances for his club in La Liga and the Copa Del Ray, four of those from the bench, scoring three goals, all in La Liga. In total, at this stage of the season, Soler has played 1,534 minutes, also having an assist to his name. His discipline is not all that bad, having been booked four times, also being sent off on one occasion.

What is being reported and by who?

The Daily Star reported that Soler was being scouted and chased by Mourinho’s side earlier in the week. Whilst they may not be the most reliable of sources, The Express also picked up on the report, not the most reliable of sources either. Earlier this year, Soler was linked to United as he had a release clause of only  €8 million in his contract, but that would rise to €30 million if he played another eight league matches, which he has since done. €30 million for a 20-year-old does not represent a bad deal in this day and age, considering the player has been performing well for his club and has impressed United’s scouting team on a few occasions. This season, United have seen midfielders drop like flies with only Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick fit for the match against Swansea City at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger left the club in January and March respectively, leaving United with a more manageable midfield, which has been plagued by injury and suspension with Marouane Fellaini sitting out the next three league matches after being sent off during the Manchester derby for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero.

What type of player is Carlos Soler?

Carlos Soler is a versatile player. During his Academy days, he’s been at Valencia since he was seven years old, he was played as a striker, scoring over 500 goals and more than 100 assists. He was then moved up to eleven-a-side, where he was placed in the defensive midfield role, a role he excelled at and showed how versatile he was. Soler has a pinpoint final ball and the instinct to score a goal. This season Soler has three goals to his name, plus an assist, which may not be great figures, but with him playing predominantly in the defensive midfield role, those figures do not seem too bad. Soler has played 20 times in La Liga this season, scoring three goals. He has a 54% shot accuracy, which is not all that bad either, creating 13 chances for his teammates. Soler has an 85% pass success rate, averages two defensive actions per match and has won nearly half (48%) of his duels this season. Could Soler replace Michael Carrick in the Manchester United squad next season? Maybe. Not like for like, but his presence in that position may be something United have seen in him, continuing to scout him throughout the season.

Likelihood of the transfer?

Manchester United will be linked to many players during the course of the remainder of the season and the summer. Whilst there are previous links to the player, the sources are not the best and seem to be an area for click bait, rather than cutting edge journalism. Soler would represent a good deal for United, providing he fit into the team and continue his development on the highest stage. Valencia seems to want to tie him to a new deal, with his current one ending in the summer of 2018, meaning this rumour may come back the longer the player avoids a new contract with Valencia needing to sell the player in order to get a considerable fee for him. Don’t be too surprised if the player stays put in Spain this summer, or maybe signing for another team. Speculation seems rife at this moment in time and newspapers will continue to link players to United as they know the club neither confirm or deny rumours and supporters will always want to read transfer stories on players the media ‘think’ will be joining the club. Over the years, if United signed all the players the media were linking them with, they would have a massive squad and an ever bigger wage bill.

copyright: JW