Since Erik Ten Hag arrived at the helm of the Manchester United ship in the summer, there have already been sweeping changes as the side look to return to former glory at the dawn of this exciting new era.
Casemiro and Christian Eriksen have entered the fray to replace the recently departed Paul Pogba, with the bemoaned central partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay now receiving scant starting minutes as a pair.
In order to continue the club’s resurgence, further additions of genuine quality must be deployed into the midfield ranks, and recent reports from Spain indicate that Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi is one maestro that could soon find himself in Manchester red, although he is unlikely to depart the Reale Arena for anything less than his €65m (£56m) release clause.
The 23-year-old has blossomed into a slick cog in his Spanish outfit, and might be seen as a shrewd investment into the Theatre of Dreams for the next chapter of the illustrious history.
Having made 115 appearances for the Royal since emerging from the youth ranks, the “special” Zubimendi – as lauded by Sid Lowe – has snatched four goals and assists apiece from his industrious role within the Spanish outfit.
As per Sofascore, the £51k-per-week phenom has achieved an average rating of 6.94 in the Spanish La Liga this term, a pivotal player in the side’s endeavours as they perch in third place after 15 matches.
His assured passing accuracy of 85% has instilled composure throughout the ranks, while his defensive pedigree is unquestionable with his 1.6 tackles and 1.7 clearances per outing; with a 60% success rate when duelling his opponent, he is a player that would certainly bolster the United ranks.
He must enter the fold, casting the likes of Brazilian marauder Fred out of the system, who has failed to live up to the sizeable £52m price tag after joining from Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk.
This season, Fred’s Sofascore rating in the English top-flight sits at 6.81, with the 29-year-old’s 81% passing accuracy, 0.8 tackles and 0.2 clearances all bettered by his Spanish counterpart.
Journalist Josh Bunting once heralded Zubimendi for being the “key element” to his side’s success, and he must channel that energy towards the Red Devils’ fortunes if a prospective bid from John Murtough does indeed materialise.
With the 29-year-old Fred six years Zubimendi’s senior, it appears to be a prudent move to delve into the market and bring the talented star to Ten Hag’s expanding pool of talent, and the changing of the guard must continue here, with Fred having played his part at Old Trafford.