Manchester United have been increasingly linked with Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin in recent weeks, and their are strong suggestions that the Frenchman is close to a £24m switch to Old Trafford.
But of course with every transfer rumour or deal we do have to take it with a pinch of salt, and there are no guarantees that everything will go swimmingly. But the fact some bookies are suspending betting on the deal tells you it is pretty likely.
This is a move that United really need to complete, Schneiderlin is the exact defensive midfielder they need. He is good at breaking things up, whilst being economic with his passing, but not passive as he looks to go forward in possession.
United of course already have a man capable of all of that in the form of Michael Carrick, and if the former West Ham man was four or five years younger then Louis van Gaal would not be looking to do a deal for Schneiderlin. But Carrick’s age, coupled with his injury record in recent years, means United desperately need a top drawer defensive midfielder and the ex-Strasbourg man fits the bill.
United do have other midfield options, like Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera, but neither of those two are proper enforcers who sit in front of the defensive line, with their attacking instincts too strong.
Fellaini is far more effective when deployed in a more forward-thinking role, as was shown when he struggled in David Moyes’ Everton side as a holding player.
Herrera is a more attacking player too, he is more box-to-box than Fellaini and his high energy levels would be somewhat wasted in a shielding role.
All of which tells you that the signing of Schneiderlin is not only important in finding a suitable player to perform that all important role in front of the defence, but to allow United’s other midfielders to play their natural roles and perform to their best.
A good defensive minded midfielder is key for any successful side, as they perform a vital, if unsung, set of jobs. Breaking up possession from the opposition, using the ball neatly, passing forward between the lines to team mates and providing cover for the defence when players are pulled out of position, all of which build a foundation.
All the top sides have good defensive midfielders, you only have to look at Chelsea with Nemanja Matic, and Claude Makelele even further back, to see the importance of a top drawer player in that area of the pitch. United are looking to get back to that level, so a signing like Schneiderlin is exactly the sort of deal Van Gaal needs to do.
Schneiderlin has all the key qualities a defensive midfielder needs along with good Premier League experience, that combined with the fact he is 25-years-old and in his prime, means he’ll only build and improve. He is already a quality player, and the fee of £24m looks like a steal for United.