Could Amrabat fix Manchester United’s midfield?
The result on this seasons first Monday night football fixture may have been favourable to Manchester United, but the deflated performance in their 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers left a lot to be desired among the Red Devils fan base.
Amidst the lack of cohesion and tenacity from Erik Ten Haag’s side, the midfield trio of club captain Bruno Fernandes, recent £55 million signing Mason Mount and five times Champions League winner Casemiro underwhelmed in their first competitive start together.
As rumours circulate that Manchester United’s transfer business is far from over this summer, more light has been shed on the strong links to Moroccan international Sofyan Amrabat and it has been reported that the 26 year old is United’s first choice signing and that he has already agreed terms with the club.
Due to the midfielder applying his trade over shores in Serie A however, not every fan is sure of how his profile will fit into Erik Ten Haag’s system. This article will explain exactly how Amrabat will fit in, and why gaining his signature could be crucial to the teams success.
Amrabat’s notoriety has largely stemmed from his impressive performances in the 2022 World Cup in which he helped guide his home nation Morocco to a semi final – a record for any African nation.
His role in the side was largely combative, with Amrabat playing as a lone defensive midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation. The sides focus on being difficult to break down and playing counter attacking football accentuated Amrabat’s defensive prowess, with the Fiorentina man completing the fourth most tackles in the entire tournament.
His defensive attributes could be critical to Manchester United and would allow more rotation with Casemiro, who at the age of 32 made 52 appearances for United last season – the most of any campaign in his career.
Furthermore, United would also have the option to play him alongside Casemiro in order exert defensive solidarity. With Casemiro often being isolated in the sides encounter on Monday night due to the attacking nature of his midfield partners, Wolves counter attacking prowess caused damage as they attempted 23 shots on Andre Ohana’s goal, the most an away team has managed at Old Trafford since 2005.
Flourishing at Fiorentina
Amrabat’s club side Fiorentina play a much different brand of football than his nation, and focus on building up from defence whilst playing a high and aggressive defensive line. This exciting style of football led the club to an 8th place finish in Serie A, and more notably acquired them a place in the Conference League Final where they fell short to West Ham.
Within Fiorentina’s emphasis on controlling games, Amrabat’s ball playing abilities have shone. He is is in the top 11th percentile across all midfielders in Europe over the last year for completed passes and completed progressive passes – emphasising that he is not only a ball winner but excels at keeping possession and progressing it into dangerous areas.
His passing abilities could be crucial for Manchester United, with the Moroccan potentially allowing for efficient transition’s of play into attacking areas – something the side struggled with on Monday night. His presence could also allow players such as Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount to not have to drop deep to receive the ball, allowing them to remain in the attacking third where they can be most effective.
If Ten Haag is to fully instil his total football principles on the Old Trafford turf, then Amrabat could be the catalyst for the clubs long awaited success.