Two cheaper Declan Rice transfer alternatives Manchester United could sign in January – Casey Evans

Manchester United had a good summer window by all accounts under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it could be described as incomplete.

They signed Tom Heaton, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo who were all significant upgrades to the squad, but two positions that Solskjaer wanted to make additions to were left unfilled, and in some regards, these were the most crucial ones.

United lack an attacking option to rotate with full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and the MEN Sport understands to try and solve this they wanted to sign Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier, who is currently in the last year of his contract with the Spanish club.

The other position they needed to fill was defensive midfield and they reportedly were interested in signing Declan Rice from West Ham United but his club priced him out of a move with a price tag of around £100 million.

Fans hoped that the team would be able to manage without these signings, but so far this season they have struggled to keep control of the game in possession nor have they been able to successfully build attacks down the right-hand side, though that may be due to Sancho being under-used by Solskjaer.

This means that United still needs to solve these problems in January, but it is likely they will have a significantly reduced budget. However, let’s look at two cut-price solutions United could look at to their problems:

Noussair Mazraoui

Manchester United managerial target Erik ten Hag has used Mazraoui at right back for many years now and obviously trusts the player (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images)

Mazraoui currently plays for Ajax under reported-United managerial target Erik ten Hag and has been a vital part of his side for many years now. The player however is in the last year of his contract and will be available on a free transfer in the summer if he doesn’t agree to a new deal.

However, there may be an opportunity for United to swoop in and pick up the player on the cheap. He is defensively solid, registering 2.91 tackles per 90 minutes player and 1.84 interceptions.

Wan Bissaka by comparison averages 2.51 tackles per 90 minutes, which is less than Mazraoui, but he excels against the Moroccan fullback with interceptions with 2.2 per 90 minutes played.

But it is the attacking output that United will most be interested in. He has four goals and two assists in 12 appearances in the Eredivisie so far this season and also registered 2.93 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes so far this season which is a lot higher than United’s current right-back who averages 1.59.

In terms of his style of play, he acts often as an inverted wing-back and he would work well alongside Sancho to create a dynamic attacking force down the right-hand side of the pitch and rotate with Wan-Bissaka when needed.

Boubacar Kamara

Kamara has been a vital part of Jorge Sampaoli’s midfield at Marseille this season (Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Kamara is a 22-year-old defensive midfielder who currently plays for Marseille in Ligue 1 and again he is in the last year of his contract with his current club so would be available for a cut-price fee.

He is also young and talented enough that he can be used as the main defensive midfielder for the rest of this season, but then in the summer United can focus on signing a more experienced player who Kamara can deputise for and develop under if needed.

Marseille have been in good form so far this season and currently sit fifth in the league under manager Jorge Sampaoli, who has been drastically improving his young squad after replacing Andre Villas-Boas.

He registers 2.89 tackles per 90 minutes played and also 1.49 interceptions, which shows how he is consistently involved in Marseille’s defensive play.

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But United also needs a defensive midfielder who can help the team keep control of the game and Kamara has a pass completion of 87.8% and on average attempts 68.45 passes per game. Showing how he can take responsibility for linking the play in midfield and also making sure that the team retains possession.

Both options combined would cost between £30-40 million when you take into account the players market value and also their contract situations. So, given how necessary it is for United to find players in these positions as soon as possible, they should consider signing them.

Which players do you think United should look to sign in January? Follow our United On My Mind writer Casey Evans on Twitter and get involved in the discussion in the comment section below.


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