Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho will transform Manchester United’s defense and attack. The midfield still feels like they are missing a key piece.

Even before United’s announced plan to switch to a 4-3-3 formation as reported, the defensive midfield position seemed to have priority. Now it feels even more important.

United’s options right now are an aging Nemanja Matic and a young James Garner. Neither Fred nor Scott McTominay are effective enough in this position. With United determined to win trophies now, the important thing is to buy the player they need.

Who that should be, well, there are many options. These range from expensive and overpriced to bargain options that might be worth playing on. Here’s a look at a full XI of players United should and can consider …

(Photo by Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images)

Declan rice

The most expensive option. England international Declan Rice is valued at a staggering £ 100million by West Ham. It’s too much, especially considering how much money has already been spent.

United could make up for that with the sale of Jesse Lingard, but the attacker will be less likely to want to join West Ham if weakened by Rice’s departure.

United could try to wait another year this year and see if Rice’s price drops. The 22-year-old would be a long-term option and his appearances at Euro 2020 underscored his ability to perform on the big stage. He will hunger for more.

(Photo by Plumb Images / Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Wilfred Ndidi

Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi could cost around £ 60m and be a tempting option for United.

The Nigerian international won 73 tackles in the Premier League last season, the third highest despite only playing 24 games.

Ndidi’s average tackles per game (3.7) were the best in the league, and his interception rate of 2.4 per game also topped the midfielders. Still 24 years old, his prime is still ahead of him.

Luxembourg v Portugal - Qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar (Photo by DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

John Straw

Joao Palhinha had a great season at Sporting, helped them to the championship title and was called up to the national team with Portugal.

The 26-year-old Palhinha would cost around £ 35m, an affordable price tag, and he could level United midfield.

Last season he won the highest number of tackles in the Portuguese league with 3.3 per game. Rice, by comparison, averaged 1.8 in the Premier League.

Belgium - Croatia - International Friendlies(Photo by Sylvain Lefevre / Getty Images)

Marcelo Brozovic

Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has the experience United needs and he faces a title-winning season in Italy.

The 28-year-old played in a World Cup final and played in 33 of 38 league games for Inter last season.

Brozovic feels comfortable in possession of the ball to dictate games. Last season, he had the seventh highest number of touches in Serie A of any player.

KRC Genk - AZ Alkmaar - pre-season friendly match (Photo by Joris Verwijst / BSR Agency / Getty Images)

Teun Koopmeiners

The highly rated Dutch talent Teun Koopmeiner impressed a few seasons ago against United for AZ Alkmaar.

Koopmeiners, 23, is a strong passer who provided seven assists last season. He is strong defensively, averaging 2.7 tackles per game.

While signing an Eredivisie player is often a gamble, the cheaper price of Koopmeiners would reflect this and lower the risk.

Netherlands U21 v France U21 - 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship quarter-finals (Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi / BSR Agency / Getty Images)

Aurelien Tchouameni

Aurelien Tchouameni, the Ligue 1 breakout star of the 2020/21 season, was approached by Cesc Fabregas, who said on Twitter: “He has the potential to become the full midfielder.”

Tchouameni took second place in Ligue 1 for successful tackles and fourth place for interceptions last season.

He would likely cost around £ 40 million and at the age of 21 he is a prospect worth pursuing. Tchouameni would be a cheaper and arguably better option than rice.


Yves bissouma

Brighton’s midfielder Yves Bissouma was one of the Premier League’s most formidable players last season.

Bissouma excelled at Old Trafford earlier this year, making six interceptions against United and winning three tackles. He finished second in the league for total tackles won and seventh for interceptions.

The 24-year-old seems ready for a big step and missing out on it could be a mistake. It would cost on the order of £ 40 million.

Burnley - Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League (Photo by Peter Powell – Pool / Getty Images)

Ruben Neves

Much of the hype surrounding Ruben Neves has calmed down compared to a few seasons ago and he needs a move to refresh his career.

Neves was still fifth in the league for tackles won and as United has already noted at our expense, he has a dangerous shot at him.

The Athletic has reported that the Wolves are ready to take advantage of it this summer as they enter a new era, and it could cost as little as £ 35 million.

France v Denmark - 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship(Photo by Chris Ricco – UEFA / UEFA via Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga

A step into the future. Eduardo Camavinga, 18, is a player who can be molded into a defensive midfielder.

He played that position in 2019-20 before moving to a box-to-box role in 2020-21. He has already made more than 80 appearances in the first team.

Last season he won 70 tackles in Ligue 1, the seventh largest in the league, more than any Manchester United player in the Premier League.


Boubacar Kamara

Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara has played more than 100 games for the club at the age of 21 and has just one year of contract left.

United could close a deal worth around £ 20m and put the talented youngster on the line.

Kamara finished eighth for tackles won in Frances, just behind Camavinga, and made the tenth most passes into the final third of any player in France.

PSV - PEC Zwolle - Dutch Eredivisie(Photo by Photo Pestige / Soccrates / Getty Images)

Ibrahim Sangare

Another cheaper option is PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Sangare who, like Kamara, would potentially cost a maximum of £ 20m.

Last season, the Ivory Coast international averaged 3.5 tackles per game, the second highest in the Eredivisie. He also averaged 2.1 interceptions per game, top 10 in the division

He was even spotted wearing a United shirt earlier this summer.

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