Sofyan Amrabat has become Manchester United’s newest star after joining the club on an initial season-long loan on transfer deadline day.
The Red Devils will pay a loan fee of £8.5m and have the option to sign the Morocco international next summer for £17.1m.
Man Utd could also pay a further £4.3m in performance-related add-ons if Amrabat joins the club on a permanent basis.
After a disjointed start to the 2023/24 season, Erik ten Hag finally has his hands on a midfielder capable of bringing together Man Utd’s midfield.
The Dutchman’s experiment of deploying Casemiro alongside two number eights in Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes quickly encountered problems, with the duo often leaving the Brazilian isolated and vulnerable to counter attacks.
With a new defensive midfielder in Amrabat through the door, here’s how Man Utd could line up this season.
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The beauty of Amrabat is he has the requisite skillset to not only deputise for Casemiro, but play alongside him.
As best demonstrated at the 2022 World Cup and on Fiorentina’s run to the Europa Conference League final last season, the Moroccan is a smooth operator on the ball and a menacing presence off it.
So far this season, Man Utd have been carved open at will. They were fortunate to beat Wolves on the opening weekend, the defeat a week later at Tottenham was deserved and they then fell two goals down to Nottingham Forest inside four minutes last Saturday.
Something has got to change. Playing Amrabat together with Casemiro would almost certainly eradicate their current issues.
Casemiro – Amrabat (4-2-3-1)
Casemiro – Amrabat – Fernandes (4-3-3)
Well, Casemiro, you’re not getting any younger. Judging by these early season performances, you’re not getting much better, either.
At Real Madrid, Casemiro was tasked with sweeping up for Luka Modric and Toni Kroos – two midfielders who didn’t just fly forward at any given opportunity.
His remit has not been quite the same with Man Utd this season. At this stage of his career, Casemiro doesn’t have the legs to play that sort of role.
That’s where the slightly younger but notably more athletic Amrabat will fit in. Sure, Ten Hag will still need to tweak his tactics to ensure his defensive midfielder isn’t completely swarmed, but having a player with more energy in that holding role will help.
Amrabat – Mount – Fernandes (4-3-3)
Amrabat – Eriksen – Fernandes (4-3-3)
Amrabat – Mount (4-2-3-1)
LISTEN NOW TO 90MIN’S TALKING TRANSFERS PODCAST
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby Cudworth, Graeme Bailey and Sean Walsh to discuss the deals that did and didn’t happen on deadline day. They talk over Ryan Gravenberch’s move to Liverpool, why Joao Palhinha didn’t join Bayern Munich, Sofyan Amrabat’s loan to Man Utd and more.
If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!