Why Aleksey Miranchuk would be a real coup for Man United

According to claims from Italian outlet TuttomercatoWeb, as cited by the Manchester Evening News, Man United are lining up a raid on Lokomotiv Moscow for Russian playmaker Aleksey Miranchuk when the transfer window reopens in a few days time. 

As per the report, United are preparing a £35 million bid for the 24-year-old versatile creative midfielder, who caught the eye for Lokomotiv Moscow in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League earlier in the season. 

The Russian heavyweights finished rock-bottom in Group D behind Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen but Miranchuk was amongst those to have caught the eye in the club’s unsuccessful European campaign.

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Aleksey Miranchuk impressed for Lokomotiv Moscow in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League this season (Getty Images)

The Red Devils, though, are expected to face stiff competition from Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan (TuttomercatoWeb h/t Manchester Evening News) in their pursuit of Miranchuk, who has already racked up an impressive tally of 9 goals and 4 assists in 21 appearances for Lokomotiv Moscow across all competitions so far this season.

A youth exponent of Lokomotiv Moscow, Miranchuk made his debut in the Russian Premier League way back in 2013 and has since carved out a big reputation for himself as one of the best creative players in his homeland. The left-footed ace has clocked up 212 appearances for his boyhood club in all competitions so far, accumulating 34 goals and 43 assists in the process. 

Meanwhile, Man United play host to Newcastle United on Boxing Day on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Watford in their previous outing. 

The Red Devils had been flying high after successive wins against Tottenham and Man City but they seem to have returned to their old inconsistent ways heading into the second half of the campaign. 

United are currently placed 8th in the standings, seven points adrift of the top-four, after accumulating only 6 wins from 18 games so far, and Ole Gunnar Solskajer will surely need to find a way to improve on those numbers if United are to harbour hopes of making a return to the Champions League next year.

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Miranchuk has clocked up over 200 appearances for Lokomotiv Moscow across all competitions since making his debut back in 2013 (Getty Images)

While a staggering outlay in the summer window to bolster the backline with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire has paid off handsomely for United, lack of creativity and cutting-edge in the attacking third continues to be a cause of real concern moving forward. 

With Paul Pogba featuring sporadically in the first half of the season due to injuries, the creative cavalry of Jese Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira just haven’t done enough to complement the strike trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James. 

United’s overall tally of 26 goals in 18 games lies testament to the malfunctioning of the club’s creative unit and the Red Devils will surely need to bring in some new players to sort out such issues if they are to mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

To put things into perspective, Man United completing a move for Aleksey Miranchuk could possibly go a long way towards solving a nagging issue in a key area of the pitch for Solskjaer. 

The 24-year-old boasts of a handsome tally of goals and assist to show for his rise in Russian football, and while Miranchuk’s exploits in his homeland hardly guarantee success in the highly-competitive atmosphere of the Premier League, the playmaker’s impressive displays in the Champions League certainly make him worth a punt for the club.

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Miranchuk has been linked with Juventus, AC Milan and Man United ahead of the January window (Getty Images)

Verdict

Miranchuk, who already has 25 senior international caps for Russia under his belt, is essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade but he also has the versatility to play in wide roles on either side of the pitch. 

However, it is the Russian’s credentials as an out-and-out No.10 that should interest United, who desperately need to find an escape route to move away from the mediocrity of Lingard and Pereira. 

As per whoscored, Miranchuk managed a pass success rate of 76.6 in the UEFA Champions League this term, including 1.5 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 1.8 key passes, 2.5 dribbles, 2 shots, 1.5 long balls per game. 

Those numbers not only reflect the 24-year-old’s well-rounded attributes as a creative outlet in front of goal but also throw light on his work-rate to track back and help his team cope with the opposition’s forays.

Indeed, those qualities should help him acclimatize quickly to the English game where defensive contribution is a must for all players, even for those playing further up the pitch. Miranchuk still has plenty of room for development at 24, meaning that he could well be worth a significant outlay in the market for United, who seem to be working under a long-term strategy. 

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Having said that, Aleksey Miranchuk fits the bill at Old Trafford for a number of reasons and United shouldn’t hesitate to splash the cash on him during the mid-season trading period in January.