This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Following the exit of Ander Herrera, and the uncertainty surrounding Paul Pogba, Manchester United’s midfield could be set for a revamp ahead of the upcoming season. But, if reports are to be believed, the Red Devils could be set to bring in an international quality star to remedy that.
According to Le Parisien, Manchester United are interested in making a swoop for Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi this summer.
Whilst the report adds that the Bianconeri have no interest in selling the 32-year-old, if United could tempt their Italian counterparts into letting the France World Cup winner go, then they could be getting a man for the big occasions.
As United have long been witness to, certain games against the club’s toughest rivals and opponents needs a game-plan and a set-up designed to frustrate. You can’t be playing pretty, attractive football all the time.
It was why Sir Alex Ferguson used to love throwing the likes of Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung into games, because he knew more than anything, they would be up for doing a ‘job’ and cancelling the opposition out.
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Though not necessarily limited to someone of that ilk, Matuidi is certainly cut from the same cloth of being able to play in different positions and different roles as the game or manager demands. The Frenchman has picked up incredible experience in his time with PSG and Juventus, and has achieved virtually everything in club and international football.
Whilst Matuidi is a bona-fide central midfielder by trade, his tactical versatility makes him a manager’s dream. In his 42 appearances last season, the ex-PSG star played 33 times in his favoured role, scoring three times and assisting a further two.
However, in the seven games Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri used him in a left-midfield role, the Bianconeri remained undefeated, and what is particularly telling is the teams those games were against.
The Frenchman played as a left-sided midfielder away against Napoli and Inter, and at home to Atalanta. Those three sides finished directly below Juventus in the Serie A standings at the end of the season.
Matuidi’s defensive discipline, work-rate and sheer selflessness means he can carry out the dirty tasks that nobody else wants to do in the big games. Hustling the opposition, tracking back, making tackles – 1.9 of them per game to be precise.
The Frenchman’s relentlessness is exactly what United need, and his ability to fulfil certain roles in the crunch games make him the ‘big-game’ signing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could really do with.