Manchester United are days away from signing Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba for a reported £100M this summer, with the French international set to earn between £10M-£15M a year as per his contract.
United’s pursuit of Pogba sees them embarking on an expensive gamble to bolster their midfield with a domineering influence who can get United challenging for major honours this season.
However, there a number of cheaper alternatives who could’ve had a similar impact in 2016/17. Here are five powerful midfielders Manchester United overlooked who wouldn’t break the bank.
Blaise Matuidi – PSG
The long-serving Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is regarded as a powerhouse box-to-box player. Boasting high levels of industry, one of the best players in Europe at turning over possession, capable of dribbling from deep and being incredibly combative winning the ball back, Matuidi is a player Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho would relish having in the squad. The 29-year-old has been an outstanding performer in the French Ligue 1 for some time, and was linked with United among other Premier League giants this summer as a result of his unparalleled skill-set.
Nemanja Matic – Chelsea
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will know Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic very well, having signed him back to Chelsea during his second stint in charge (2014), and he may well regret not making more of an effort to renew acquaintances this summer. Matic boasts strength, composure in possession, high numbers of tackles and interceptions, and an aerial threat due to his height. In Chelsea’s title-winning season (2014/15), Matic was regarded as the unsung hero who provided the protection in midfield to allow the creative players to express themselves.
Radja Nainggolan – AS Roma
AS Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was on the radar for a number of Premier League clubs this summer, but was eventually overlooked after struggling with country Belgium during Euro 2016. The experienced midfielder is full-bloodied which can be both good and bad. He embodies the fighting spirit Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wants from all his players, but sometimes crosses the line with his aggression. Nevertheless, he has high levels of industry and is relentless in his pursuit to turnover possession. Nainggolan
Moussa Sissoko – Newcastle United
Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko has spoken of his desire to leave the North-East club this summer, and would jump at the chance to join a giant such as Manchester United. His performances in this summer’s European Championships have done him no harm either, showcasing real power and energy in midfield to turn defence into attack. Sissoko is physically superior than the majority of midfield players, but has good feet and a fantastic engine to outrun his opposition when in the mood. His greatest strength is running with the ball, but he can score and create goals and isn’t averse to defensive work either. A more left-field choice than the aforementioned, however.
Lassana Diarra – Marseilles
Olympique de Marseille midfielder Lassana Diarra has been linked with Manchester United this summer, having played under manager Jose Mourinho twice in his career (Chelsea & Real Madrid). He’s enjoyed a late resurgence at 31, showcasing combative attributes in his natural deep-lying role to steal the ball from the opposition, while having the industry to drive in possession from deep to create attacks. His age might be a stumbling block, but the Frenchman would jump at the chance to return to the Premier League, having played for three English sides in the past, and he wouldn’t set United back much at all.