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Manchester United: Ten Hag can find next Xabi Alonso in Zubimendi

Manchester United are eyeing up a swoop for a La Liga midfielder as Erik ten Hag aims to strengthen his squad…

What’s the news?

The Old Trafford side have been linked with a move for Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi according to Mundo Deportivo (via TEAMtalk) and they face competition from Barcelona for the Spaniard.

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Zubimendi has recently signed a contract extension until 2027, however, his release clause will stand at €65m (£56m) for the winter transfer market.

The La Liga side will likely demand the full release clause should Ten Hag make his move, but a January move appears unlikely at the moment.

Xabi Alonso 2.0

Zubimendi has been compared to former Liverpool and Spain icon Xabi Alonso, a player who rose to stardom in the Premier League and across Europe.

Indeed, the Sociedad midfielder went as far as to describe him as someone he looks up to: “He’s an idol, a role model, so I’m delighted that he says nice things about me.” Said the midfielder in an interview with Sid Lowe.

Described as a “special” player by Lowe, it’s clear the two share similar traits.

For starters, both are Spanish and they began their careers in the Real Sociedad academy, with Alonso even coaching the youngster during his stint in charge of the B team.

On the pitch, Zubimendi also plays like his idol, controlling the game while also contributing heavily defensively to allow others to flourish.

Last season, the 23-year-old made 1.4 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, and 1.3 clearances per match, while also proving he can chip in with some goal contributions too by scoring twice and adding an assist.

Zubimendi has also been capped for Spain, however, he missed out on their World Cup squad. This could be a blessing in disguise, motivating him towards greater success with the national side in the future.

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Journalist Josh Bunting described the midfielder as Real Sociedad’s “key element” and he is crucial in how they play, while also playing an integral part in the club winning the Copa del Rey back in 2020.

Although a January transfer may seem unrealistic, a move in the summer could be on the cards and Zubimendi certainly has the potential to have the same impact on English football that Alonso did nearly 20 years ago when he joined Liverpool.