It’s far from certain that Mason Mount will end the summer as a Manchester United player.
Chelsea have already rejected three bids from the Red Devils for the midfielder, though 90min understands that they haven’t given up hope of landing Mount just yet.
Man Utd are adamant that they will not pay over the odds to sign the 24-year-old. But if they aren’t capable of bringing in one of Erik ten Hag’s top targets, who could they turn to? Who fits that profile of a flexible and versatile playmaker with an eye for goal?
Here are some alternatives that they could consider.
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Mount has often been compared and contrasted with Leicester City’s James Maddison in recent years for good reason – both can play several positions, are output machines and are natural rivals for an England spot.
A sticking point could be that the Foxes are demanding £60m for Maddison. Though that’s slightly less than what Chelsea are asking for Mount, it begs the question of whether the Red Devils value Maddison on a similar level.
The longer the window goes on that Maddison remains at Leicester, the more likely you’d think it is that this price tag would come down. It could be another waiting game for Man Utd.
Club: Crystal Palace
Maddison doesn’t provide the same assurances in a deeper role that Mount may be able to provide, but England’s newest senior international Eberechi Eze has spent much of the past season playing as more of a roaming eight at Crystal Palace.
Eze is a similar enough profile to Mount that it wouldn’t completely deviate from the kind of player Ten Hag wants, and though he’s not as experienced as the Chelsea man, would bring an energy, fearlessness and showmanship that Old Trafford would appreciate.
If Man Utd want to find an alternative solution to the attacking qualities that Mount would bring, then they could always pursue a move for Ten Hag’s former protege in Kudus.
90min reported back in January that they were exploring a move for the Ghanaian to solve their striker problems, but he’s equally capable of playing in the hole and on the wing.
He’s been heavily linked with a move to Brighton in the last week, so if Man Utd do want to reignite their interest, they’d better get a move on.
Club: PSV Eindhoven
Another Eredivisie youngster that can play all across the frontline and as a number ten is Xavi Simons, who is coming off the back of a stunning breakout season with PSV Eindhoven.
As is the case with Kudus, this would be a move designed to replace Mount’s theoretical output higher up the pitch. If Ten Hag wants to flex his coaching muscle and try to convert him into a deeper-lying midfield then it’s probably a challenge he’d relish (it worked with a veteran Christian Eriksen, after all).
Similarly, Man Utd’s biggest stumbling block would be the advances of another team, with PSG said to be weighing up triggering a cut-price buy-back clause.
Club: Sporting CP
If Man Utd want to stick with a player they know is comfortable playing as a number eight and not just as a ten or out wide, then Sporting CP’s Pedro Goncalves might be their man.
Ironically, he was brought in by Sporting as their long-term replacement to Bruno Fernandes and has taken on that role to perfection.
Goncalves ended the 2022/23 season with 20 goals and 15 assists in 51 club games. He’s an end-product monster and should be an under-the-radar candidate for a lot of teams.
On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss how much Man Utd could potentially raise from player sales this summer and who are the ones Erik ten Hag should consider moving on. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
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