Home » Manchester United in the race to sign Manuel Ugarte

Manchester United in the race to sign Manuel Ugarte

by David O'Neill

Casemiro and Christian Eriksen have both enjoyed successful campaigns in their first term at Manchester United, but Erik ten Hag is keen to strengthen his midfield further ahead of next season.

The summer 2022 signings have enjoyed a fine partnership behind Bruno Fernandes, with the Brazilian offering steel and leadership while Eriksen’s passing range and composure have helped the Red Devils progress the ball up the pitch.

When the trio are fit, firing, and free of fatigue, United have – by and large – enjoyed good results and assured performances. But take any one of those players out and the side struggles.

Casemiro has missed seven Premier League games through suspension and his replacement Scott McTominay, despite a good start to the season, comes with a significant drop-off in quality. The Scotland international has also been linked with a move away from Old Trafford this season, with the likes of Newcastle and West Ham United keen on the player.

It is for these reasons that Man United are thought to be looking at midfielders who could rotate with Casemiro, 31, who will need alternating out of the squad more regularly as time goes by.

There would be few midfielder more up to such a task than Sporting Lisbon’s Manuel Ugarte, upon whom A Bola (via Desporto ao Minuto) have reported on United’s interest.

The Uruguayan star has only been at Sporting for two seasons but has already established himself as one of the premier defensive midfield prospects in European football. He has seamlessly replaced Joao Palhinha after his move to Fulham last summer, bringing just as much energy and combative spirit as the the Portuguese battler.

Ugarte averages an astonishing 4.63 tackles and 2.18 interception per 90 minutes on the pitch. For reference, Premier League tackle-master Palhinha has averaged 4.26 and 1.33 respectively over the last year.

The Sporting starlet is also exceptionally reliable in possession, with a pass completion rate of 91.6%. While the 22-year-old is hardly an assist machine, Man United regularly field a number of high-risk creators in midfield. A safe passer could be a refreshing change of pace for Ten Hag as he looks to impose his team’s quality on the opposition.

Ugarte looks likely to move this summer, with Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea having been linked over the last few weeks.

The player, who has a €60m release clause, is said to be more attracted by a move to the Premier League.

With Manchester United’s reported “decisive” entry into the race, it would appear that the midfielder will have plenty of options to consider.

(All stats via Fbref)


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