- 25 May
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Is 'transfer guru' Paul Mitchell what Man Utd need?
Manchester United are favourites to acquire Paul Mitchell from Monaco after talks broke down between the principality side's sporting director and Liverpool recently.
Mitchell has a big reputation in the game, primarily as a player recruitment specialist after his own career, the bulk of which was spent with Wigan and MK Dons, was cut short by injury.
He was credited with persuading former England international Alan Smith to join him at MK Dons in 2012, and seven years later, much of the Tottenham Hotspur team that reached the Champions League final under Mauricio Pochettino - Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier - had been recruited by Mitchell.
READ: Man Utd or Liverpool next? Paul Mitchell's best XI signings
Dele, thank you for the memories 💙 pic.twitter.com/DvDH1BvyXD— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 1, 2022
Having also previously impressed at Southampton, Mitchell boasted a glittering CV when he took Head of Recruitment and Development job at RB Leipzig in 2018 before moving into his current Monaco role in 2020.
Whilst Mitchell's Spurs achievements are headline-grabbing, they could be put down to statistical noise in isolation, and it is now four years since that 2-0 loss to Liverpool in Madrid.
Who has Mitchell helped sign since?
At Monaco, there has been more light than dark. Axel Disasi, a €13m acquisition from Reims, is now a full France international at centre-back, Left-back Caio Henrique, also signed in his Mitchell's summer there, now looks a snip at €8m. Last summer's €11m right-back Vanderson is already wanted by Barcelona.
READ: Barcelona target Monaco ace
This summer's €15m arrival from Liverpool Takumi Minamino has bombed so far, but the overall balance sheet looks impressive.
At Leipzig in the intervening time, Christopher Nkunku, Dani Olmo, Patrick Schick and Angelino were successes - even if the latter is now on loan at Hoffenheim having fallen out with the club - but there some misses as well as hits.
In Emile Smith Rowe, Tyler Adams, Nordi Mukiele and Matheus Cunha there are a quartet of players who never really got going in Leipzig, even if Smith Rowe has done well back at parent club Arsenal since, while Adams and Mukiele earned moves to Leeds and PSG respectively. Cunha later played for Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea are hoping to confirm the transfer of Christopher Nkunku soon 🔜 pic.twitter.com/IuQAOKM1Qk— Football Transfers (@Transfersdotcom) October 3, 2022
On balance, it would have to be said that Mitchell's eye for a player holds up here, too - even the signings that didn’t flourish in Leipzig have done so elsewhere - normally at a profit - since.
United could clearly do a lot worse than recruit a player recruitment guru such as Mitchell - the only question left is whether they actually need him?
The Red Devils have done some good transfer business since Erik ten Hag took charge, with Casemiro (€80m from Real Madrid), Lisandro Martinez (€57.4m from Ajax) and Christian Eriksen (free from Brentford) perhaps representing the best of it.
But United continue to pay some of the highest transfer fees in world football, and where Mitchell could best help is unearthing diamonds in the rough like the early Tottenham-version Alli, Nkunku or Vanderson.
And Man Utd acquiring Mitchell also means Liverpool won't, which would be a fine signing in itself.