It has been clear for some time that Manchester United need to strengthen their midfield if they are to challenge for trophies going forward.
The Red Devils have regularly lost the midfield battle in big games this season and that is a big part of the reason why they sit 24 points off the top of the table after just 20 games, in a season where they were expected to mount a challenge for the title.
Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Denis Zakaria and Amadou Haidara are all names that have been linked with moves to Old Trafford over recent months.
Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn
McGinn’s relentless energy and high intensity pressing could suit interim boss Ralf Rangnick
But the latest name onto the United shortlist is Aston Villa star John McGinn, who has been linked with a £40m move this summer.
Club legend Sir Alex Ferguson and technical director Darren Fletcher are both said to be huge fans of the Scotland international who plays a key part under Steven Gerrard at Villa Park,
There has been a mixed response among the club’s supporters, with some thinking he would be perfect for the way United hope to play going forward, with others questioning the price tag and believing they are better off spending their money elsewhere.
Sportsmail takes a look at the 27-year-old and considers whether he is the type of midfielder that Manchester United need.
Sir Alex Ferguson and United’s technical director Darren Ferguson are said to be big admirers
MCGINN SIGNING WOULD SUIT RANGNICK
When you look at McGinn’s main attributes as a player, it comes as no surprise that he has been linked to Manchester United.
While he may have a reputation for being a rambunctious box-to-box midfielder who likes to get stuck in with opposing players, he’s more technically gifted than he’s often given credit for.
But crucially he presses extremely well and is excellent at winning the ball high up the pitch, allowing him to make the most out of transitions and counter attacks which would benefit United’s pacy wingers.
McGinn is a box-to-box midfielder who likes to win the ball up high that set up counter attacks
Those attributes along with his relentless energy is perfect for the system that Ralf Rangnick is trying to implement at Old Trafford.
McGinn’s leadership qualities on and off the pitch are also said to be appealing to those behind the scenes at United. Though it could be tough to walk into a dressing room atmosphere which has faced much scrutiny going back to the final months of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in charge.
With Bruno Fernandes at the head of the midfield, he would likely be scrapping for a spot alongside Fred and Scott McTominay as part of a midfield three or in Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 system.
For Aston Villa he often plays on the right of a midfield three where he overlaps right-back Matty Cash so can provide good delivery into the box from the inside-right position.
Declan Rice (left) is among a number of other players the Red Devils have also been linked with
As well as being a high-octane player, McGinn can contribute towards goals having netted three times and provided two assists in the league this season. Compared to Manchester United’s current squad, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood have contributed to more goals in the league this season.
Signing McGinn would be the first major step in the transition towards Rangnick’s goal of getting United to play with more intensity.
However, Rangnick is only expected to be manager until the end of the season with the interim boss set to be in a consultancy role for the following two seasons.
Though the German is currently expected to stay at the club past this season, United are still uncertain as to who their manager will be in the long run which raises questions over whether they’ll adapt a similar style to the current interim boss and in turn whether McGinn would suit the new boss.
AREAS UNITED NEED TO STRENGTHEN
Manchester United for many seasons have lacked the quality of defensive midfielder that their rivals have had in the likes of N’Golo Kante, Fernandinho and Fabinho who have all inspired their clubs to success.
It’s clear that they are in need of a commanding defensive midfielder who can protect United’s vulnerable back-four.
This would be where the likes of West Ham star Rice and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Zakaria would be better suited for the Red Devils.
However, the Red Devils could find themselves needing another midfield acquisition this summer, due to the potential exodus they could face.
United are set to lose Paul Pogba who is in the final year of his contract at Manchester United
The biggest of which is Pogba who is in the final year of his contract and is expected to leave the club on a free. Donny van de Beek is unhappy with his lack of game-time at Old Trafford and is also widely expected to leave, while 33-year-old Juan Mata hasn’t played a single minute in the league this season.
McGinn’s most obvious position at United would be alongside a defensive midfielder in his traditional box-to-box role behind Fernandes.
Though United could look for a more attacking midfielder than McGinn, especially with the potential losses of Pogba and Van de Beek.
McGinn would likely scrap it out with Fred and Scott McTominay to get into the starting eleven
Donny van de Beek has not been given enough game-time to prove himself at United
Pogba’s consistency at Old Trafford has always been a huge question mark but there has never been any doubt about his quality especially when he is on form – with the Frenchman registering seven assists in just nine appearances this season.
Van de Beek has played more than 4,000 fewer minutes than McGinn since the start of the 2020-21 season but his average stats across 90 minutes suggest arguably he should be given more of a chance to prove himself
Seeing the steps that United need to take to close the gap to Manchester City, it is also questionable whether McGinn is enough of an upgrade on what United already have to push them into contention.
|PL since 2020/21||Bruno Fernandes||Donny van de Beek||John McGinn||Paul Pogba|
|Total goals (ex penalties)||25||2||6||3|
|Shot conversion rate||15.4%||50%||8.8%||5.9%|
|Touches in opponent’s box||3.2||4.8||1.3||3.2|
IS MCGINN THE RIGHT TYPE OF SIGNING FOR UNITED?
If United are to adopt Rangnick’s style of play going forward, whether it be with the German or in a similar system under a different coach, McGinn’s attributes would make him a suitable signing for the Red Devils.
Despite this it could be tough to convince Aston Villa to sell their midfielder after already losing star player Jack Grealish to Manchester City last summer for £100m.
McGinn has continued to play a key part at Villa Park since Gerrard’s arrival at the club and it could take a big price to convince the ambitious West Midlands club to sell the Scotsman, when they are showing statements of intent with recent signings Lucas Digne and Phillipe Coutinho on loan.
United would likely though need to buy another midfielder if they do go for McGinn, as he wouldn’t be the commanding presence that they currently lack and should be looking to sign.
He could turn out to be an upgrade though on the likes of Fred, McTominay and Nemanja Matic and provide them more energy in midfield which will improve their chances of winning key battles in the middle of the park in the big matches.
Steven Gerrard will be determined to keep McGinn at Villa Park as he looks to improve the club