With Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba confirming his desire to seek ‘a new challenge somewhere else’, FOX Sports Asia looks at 5 relatively unknown midfielders who could be the perfect replacements for the French sensation.
#1 Thomas Partey(Atletico Madrid)
One of Atletico’s prized assests, Partey represents a footballer who’s value has risen manifold over the past few years in keeping with his evolution as a footballer.
The Ghanian came through Atletico’s reserves, signing for them back in 2011 and after a couple of loan spells away to Mallorca and Almeria, broke into their first team.
Also, even though Partey identifies primarily as a tough tackling defensive midfielder, his take-on rate is unusually high, which would make him as close to a like-for-like replacement for Pogba as United can get under the circumstances.
#2 Tanguy Ndombele(Lyon)
Tanguy Ndombele’s name has been in the news recently for Tottenham Hotspurs’ interest in acquiring his services but the midfielder’s quality had shone through long ago.
Such was his rise in prominence that even at the tender age of 20, it took him less than 2 seasons to make the midfield spot in the team his own.
Indeed, it was only in the summer of 2017 that he joined Lyon, that too on a temporary basis.
He has consistently been compared to Chelsea midfielder Kante but Ndombele’s game has much more to it than just breaking up play – a box-to-box role is where he has flourished the most, marking him out as a potential replacement for Pogba, if the World Cup winner is indeed let go.
#3 Youri Tielemens(AS Monaco)
The AS Monaco midfielder isn’t an unknown quantity per se. In fact, he has been linked with United before. However, such has been his form in the past couple of years that his name had faded into relative obscurity until a loan move to Leicester rejuvenated a faltering career.
Tielemens’ stock was at an all-time high in 2017 when he joined Monaco from Anderlecht, before a horror one-and-a-half season meant Monaco were open to letting him move in January, and Leicester pounced.
A mini-revival followed and Tielemens’ career is now at a crossroads as a result. Leicester want him back but the Belgian would surely prefer moving to a bigger club, meaning United would be favorites to sign the midfielder, should they show an interest in the event of Pogba’s departure.
#4 Sean Longstaff(Newcastle United)
The Englishman’s name is one that had been mentioned even prior to Pogba’s confession, but has become even more significant in the aftermath of it. He offers a style of play different to the Frenchman’s and is not nearly as effective on the ball as he is off it.
However, what he can do is give United the opportunity to forge an alternative style of play, one that provides a more balanced approach to the current outfit which is heavily reliant on Pogba and his ability, or lack thereof, to grab games by the scruff of the neck.
#5 Giovani Lo Celso(Real Betis)
Former PSG man Giovani Lo Celso is another option that could entice United, especially consider his recent goal return. Contracted to Paris as recently as 2018, Celso’s loan spell at Real Betis last year yielded 9 goals, with his performances resulting in Betis making the move permanent.
Tottenham have been linked too, but the lure of bigger wages might understandably see the midfielder move to Manchester.