Five Bundesliga players Man Utd should scout this season
Five Bundesliga players Man Utd should scout this season
Manchester United look like they need further reinforcements this summer after a disappointing start to the season. A look towards the Bundesliga could serve them well in 2022/23.
While the notion of a "Bundesliga Tax" has occupied column inches in recent seasons - Jadon Sancho's drop-off in productivity since swapping Borussia Dortmund for United in 2021 didn't help - that doesn't mean there aren't some gems to acquire from Germany.
Sancho's former Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland is already off the mark for United's crosstown rivals Manchester City, and there could be more where he came from. Football Transfers looks at five of the best potential fits at Old Trafford.
With Cristiano Ronaldo wanting out, Anthony Martial injured and Marcus Rashford long since converted to a winger, United are crying out for a new striker.
As well as Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and even Odion Ighalo have plugged a gap in the United attack in recent seasons, but they were all over 30 on arrival, and it is arguable that Wayne Rooney is the last striker they signed with their best years still ahead of them.
The same should be true of Sasa Kalajdzic. Now 25, the Austria international endured an injury-ravaged campaign last season, but he plundered 16 goals and six assists at a rate of one every 97 minutes he played in 2020/21.
The tallest player in the Bundesliga at 6'7", Kalajdzic cuts a similar figure to Peter Crouch, and made the same journey from youth team midfielder to senior striker. Crouch scored 106 Premier League goals, and United could do worse than find out if Kalajdzic can also do the business in England.
The forgotten brace 😒— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 10, 2021
Stuttgart were beaten 5-2 on Saturday, but Sasa Kalajdzic's goals are well worth another watch 👌 pic.twitter.com/YvF34RTC3B
United have been chasing Frenkie de Jong all summer, with Erik ten Hag identifying his former Ajax midfielder as his top target. De Jong has had other ideas, however, and it appears he is more likely to go to Chelsea should he agree to leave the cash-strapped Catalan giants.
The Red Devils are now pursuing Juventus and France midfielder Adrien Rabiot, with patience for Fred and Scott McTominay beginning to wear this, but there could be a real diamond in the rough with Borussia Monchengladbach's Kouadio Kone.
The former Toulouse youngster, still just 21, had to share minutes with Florian Neuhaus, Denis Zakaria and Christoph Kramer last season, but that didn't stop him from posting some of the best midfield statistics in the league.
Kone average three interceptions per game as well as completing two dribbles per 90. Like De Jong, he can win back possession and then beat the press with his ball control - and he would cost a fraction of the price.
On paper, Man Utd have more elite centre-backs than they can squeeze into their first XI, but Raphael Varane's form has disappointed since his summer 2021 arrival from Real Madrid, Harry Maguire's confidence looks shot, and Lisandro Martinez had a nervous debut against Brighton.
Ten Hag and Co. should be keeping close tabs on Benjamin Pavard at Bayern this season. A World Cup-winning right-back with France, the former Stuttgart man prefers lining up at centre-back, but that is unlikely to be an opportunity he is afforded at the Allianz Arena this season.
Bayern have shelled out €77 million for Juventus's Matthijs de Ligt to replace the Borussia Dortmund-bound Niklas Süle, adding the Dutchman to a catalogue of centre-backs which also includes Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano and Tanguy Nianzou.
To add insult to injury, Pavard could also find his minutes encroached by right-back Noussair Mazraoui, a summer arrival from Ajax. United may not be able to offer Pavard Champions League football this season, but time in his favoured role could prove too good to turn down.
🗳️ #WorldCupAtHome | Benjamin Pavard's perfect pearler topped the Moment of the Match poll in 🇫🇷🆚🇦🇷 at Russia 2018— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) April 12, 2020
📺 Miss the match? Watch it in full, for free and on demand right here 👇
Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga - and perhaps the world - and Sir Alex Ferguson famously passed up the chance to sign the Germany legend in favour of David de Gea, who joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
But Neuer didn't have the best save percentage in the Bundesliga last season, that honour going to Freiburg shot-stopper Mark Flekken, who saved an average of 74 per cent of attempts on his goal at a rate of more than three per game as the Black Forest club qualified for Europe.
Flekken is now a full Netherlands international, and although De Gea can still make incredible saves at the top level, United would be able to pick up his stylistic understudy for as little as a few million euros.
Last but by no means least in Florian Wirtz. Injured for the time being, Bayer Leverkusen's loss could very much be United's gain in that regard, with other potential suitors taking their eye off the nascent Germany international in recent months.
Wirtz scored his first ever Bundesliga goal against Neuer and has since enjoyed 19 goals and 22 assists in all competitions for Leverkusen at the tender age of 19.
He previously overtook Kai Havertz as Leverkusen's youngest ever debutant and has so far enjoyed a more prolific goal contribution rate than the current Chelsea man despite lining up in a slightly deeper position.
United may have a fine operator in the No.10 position in Bruno Fernandes, while Christian Eriksen has also been added to the squad, but Wirtz has eight years on the former and 11 on the latter, and United should look to get the next Havertz before the race for him heats up.