Despite the arrivals of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who have brought pace and promise to Manchester United’s attack and defence respectively, one aspect of the team remains in need of reinforcement according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had this to say during a fan event in Perth:
“I believe so much in this club and this project. To be manager of this club is fantastic. I’m standing next to the history of this club. I never had the honour of playing with [Bryan Robson] but we need a player like him in the team.”
Former Red Devils captain Robson, who sat beside legendary striker Solskjaer, spent 13 years at the club and won eight trophies. The lean midfielder was adept at winning the ball back before embarking on a trademark burst through towards the opposition box, after which he would carve an opportunity for himself or a teammate.
The 62-year-old netted an impressive 74 goals in 345 appearances for United and notched 26 times in 90 England showings – a difficult record to match but one that Solskjaer hopes he and his staff can find a player capable of equalling. We’re here to give the ‘baby-faced assassin’ a helping hand, so which five players could be United’s next Robson – someone who provides leadership, dynamism and goals? Check out Football FanCast’s suggestions below…
Permitting a serious attitude adjustment, the World Cup-winning Frenchman is certainly capable of becoming the player Solskjaer is after – the former Juventus man chalked up an astonishing 10 goals and six assists in the league last term.
There’s no doubting the number 6’s ability to net 20 goals in one season if he can properly apply himself but his legacy will never match that of Robson’s otherwise. The quality is certainly there and the task for both player and manager is to coax it out of him on a regular basis.
Pogba showed he can be a leader with France at last summer’s World Cup so the potential is there on that front as well, but we’re yet to really see him have the same impact at Old Trafford.
According to Sky Sports, the Red Devils are eyeing the towering Serb in the wake of Ander Herrera’s departure and there’s no wonder as to why given the Lazio man’s impressive scoring record in recent seasons – the 24-year-old has struck 31 times in 162 appearances for the Serie A outfit, while also chalking up 18 assists.
At 6 foot 3, the Spanish-born powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park and while he might not share Robson’s pace or slight frame, he is similarly adept at breaking the lines and testing the keeper – the number 21 completed 1.1 dribbles and took 2.2 shots per game last term, according to WhoScored. He could set United back a whopping £90m though.
In terms of leadership qualities, Milinkovic-Savic’s are yet to be truly seen. But he’s certainly got an action-packed style which, combined with his goal record, should help inspire those around him.
The 18-year-old starlet might not yet be a household name but the signs are there that he could become a United regular in the years to come.
Levitt was invited to join first team training by Solskjaer ahead of the 2018/19 season finale against Cardiff City – an indication of how well highly-thought of he is – following an impressive campaign with the Under-18s in which he chalked up five goals and six assists in 14 appearances. If United have their next Robson in the academy, it could well be this Welsh youth international.
Estadio Deportivo reported last month that Real Madrid, United and Spurs are interested in signing the Real Betis man, who chalked up 16 goals and six assists in all competitions last term and is capable of playing in front of the back four, as a box-to-box midfielder or in support of the strikers.
The former PSG man also completes a solid 1.6 tackles per game – testament to his ability to win the ball back – while his dribbling and long shots are listed as ‘very strong’ and ‘strong’ by WhoScored. If the Red Devils beat their London rivals to the Argentine’s signature this summer, they’ll be getting a player who can carry the ball well and test the keeper from any distance – sound familiar?
The only problem, of course, is that Tottenham appear to be far closer to signing the action-packed midfielder than United right now.
Putting pressure on young players is always risky; some let it get to their head, but that hasn’t stopped the football world from drawing comparisons between United Under-17s captain Garner and Michael Carrick, who holds the youngster in high regard.
While Carrick and Robson were different players stylistically, they were both vital cogs in the United midfield for an extended period of time and their eventual departures were certainly felt. Likewise, if there’s one trait Garner does seem to share with Robson, it’s his ability to lead having already donned the armband for United at academy level.
Could academy talent Garner become a mainstay in the middle of the park just like both Red Devils legends?