Manchester United have been splashing their considerable reserves of cash on top quality talent so far this summer.
Even their free transfers haven’t come cheap, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic earning a stellar wage to become the Premier League’s best-paid player.
But the squad is still incomplete, Jose Mourinho has been busy identifying targets for his squad, and on top of simply buying players who fit into a starting XI, Mourinho should be looking to players who will make the squad better, too. Players who fit the Mourinho mould, in particular. Only 11 players can play at any one time, but plenty more can make an impact over the course of a season.
Jose Mourinho will not raid Manchester City this summer. It’s not likely, at any rate. Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez switched directly between the sides over the past few years, but there’s not a lot where that came from. And this season, the two will be competing head to head.
If Mourinho were to look across the city – who would he covet? Sergio Aguero and David Silva, for sure. Even Kevin de Bruyne might bring back painful memories – the one that got away. But they might not be the players to make his United side any better.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front and Anthony Martial as an able deputy to be used in certain games when pace and penetration are needed, it’s unlikely that a move for someone like Aguero would even be a good thing for United, as good as a player he is.
So here are three players who are currently plying their trade at City, but who could fit right into a Jose Mourinho team and actually make them better. They are in no way signings that Mourinho should make – but if they played for any other team, they could have been options!
The unsung hero of the Etihad, Fernandinho is a workhorse whose power and stamina would fit right into a Mourinho side’s ethic. But Fernandinho possesses qualities that are so far beyond than just that.
Whilst his work rate is clearly an asset, it’s his technique coupled with his ability to read the game that make him a top box to box midfielder and the kind of player who can add energy to a midfield that includes Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick at present.
He’s also a player who knows how to break up a game and take a booking when it’s needed – if Mourinho can’t get his hands on Paul Pogba or Blaise Matuidi, he may find himself looking jealously across the city at the kind of quietly brilliant midfielder his nemesis Pep Guardiola possesses for himself.
United fans won’t like to see this one on the list because Mangala has been given a severe dressing down by the Premier League in his first two seasons.
He hasn’t played well particularly often, and his partnerships with Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis in the absence of Vincent Kompany have been shaky.
But it’s worth remembering that under Manuel Pellegrini, defending wasn’t something City did with much aplomb.
Mangala is still a young defender and he has all the physical attributes to be a top class defender, what he needs is the right manager to instil a discipline into his game and show him what to do – Mourinho, the great organiser, would allow him to thrive.
Add to this the fact that Mourinho often likes to employ a dominating, destructive defender in the midfield when closing out the game, just like Kurt Zouma.
As a young defender in a similar mould, Mourinho could certainly find a space and turn him into something other than a laughing stock.
He’s getting on in years and possibly past his best, but Zabaleta is a warrior. He’s the kind of player who would totally buy into the Mourinho identity, the kind of player who will fight and die for the cause – exactly the type of player that Mourinho fosters at the clubs he manages.
Even if Zabaleta is getting a little bit too old for Thursday-Sunday football, he could still be useful for the squad, but it’s what he would give Mourinho off the pitch in terms of transmitting his ethos to his players that would really benefit Manchester United.