Reijnders to Man Utd? Ten Hag is targeting the wrong Serie A midfielder

Tom Weber
Tom Weber
  • Updated: 20 Feb 2024 16:53 GMT
  • 9 min read
Erik ten Hag, Man Utd, Tijjani Reijnders, Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Manchester United are interested in Tijjani Reijnders.

FootballTransfers exclusively revealed on Monday that Erik ten Hag and company have begun taking a keen interest in the AC Milan midfielder with a view to potentially bringing him in in the upcoming summer transfer window.

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Reijnders has been excellent for an ultimately disappointing Rossoneri side since joining the club last year. The 25-year-old has been a regular under Stefano Pioli and has won plaudits despite the Italian giants underwhelming this term.

A versatile midfielder who can play a box-to-box role and as a more advanced playmaker, Reijnders excels going forward but he is also not afraid to do the dirty work. Indeed, data experts SciSports rate him as one of the standout midfielders in Serie A this term, yet he may not be Man Utd's best option.

Tijjani Reijnders
© IMAGO - Tijjani Reijnders

Reijnders a bad choice?

Reijnders is 25 years old and unlikely to significantly improve in the years still ahead of him. This is a problem because SciSports do not believe that the Dutchman is currently good enough to be more than a squad player for Man Utd. Given that Milan will not entertain offers below €60m, pursuing a deal doesn't seem the shrewdest choice.

According to SciSports, there are some much better options out there. One of them is a familiar face in Adrien Rabiot. Courted by Man Utd over the two previous summers, the Juventus star is once again free to negotiate with interested sides and Ten Hag would be well advised to reignite his interest.

His age may prove an issue, as could the fact that the 28-year-old is also wanted by Liverpool and Arsenal, according to a recent report. Yet, on a free transfer, there are few better value-for-money deals in football than Rabiot, who has a similarity to Reijnders of at least 90 per cent, according to SciSports.

Another player who fits into that category is Nicolo Barella. The Inter star has been Serie A's best midfielder for some time now and is frequently linked with a Premier League switch. The Nerrazzurri would be loathe to lose one of their star players, but Barella is probably the best attainable Serie A midfielder out there, though he won't come cheap.

Tijjani Reijnders (yellow) vs Adrien Rabiot (red) and Nicolo Barella (blue)
© SciSports - Tijjani Reijnders (yellow) vs Adrien Rabiot (red) and Nicolo Barella (blue)

SciSports also believe that Teun Koopmeiners is a better player than his compatriot Reijnders. The two share a lot of similarities as the Atalanta man is also a relatively versatile central midfielder and the 25-year-old has been linked with the Red Devils for some time. However, a recent report has claimed that he prefers staying in Italy and signing with Juventus.

Finally, there may be a better alternative to Reijnders at...AC Milan. Ismael Bennacer has lost his place in the Rossoneri's side to Reijnders this season, yet SciSports still rate the 26-year-old higher than his Dutch counterpart. Given that he has barely featured, the Algerian, who is one of Europe's most talented midfielders on his day, could be available at a cut price.

Tijjani Reijnders
2023/2024 | Serie A (ITA)
Centre midfield (1024 Minutes played)
95% Ball WinningMidfielderHoldingMidfielderDeep LyingPlaymakerBox-to-BoxMidfielderAdvancedPlaymaker
Ismaël Bennacer
2022/2023 | Serie A (ITA)
Defensive midfield (1366 Minutes played)
95% Ball WinningMidfielderHoldingMidfielderDeep LyingPlaymakerBox-to-BoxMidfielder

Bennacer is a very different player compared to Reijnders, playing much deeper, which is arguably what Man Utd need more than another creative or box-to-box midfielder, roles already filled by Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo. Bennacer is more of a ball-winner than Reijnders and could be a much-needed Casemiro replacement.

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