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Ten Hag’s “special” Man Utd talent could have saved Ratcliffe £60m

Written by on May 19, 2024

If there has been one area of their side in which Manchester United have always had legendary players, it is on the wing. Over the last 70 years, the Red Devils have had some iconic wide players, who are now considered by fans to be club legends.

From the 1960s to recent years, their history is littered with iconic wingers. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was George Best. The Northern Irishman made 470 appearances for United, scoring 179 times and winning the Ballon d’Or in 1968.

In the 1990s, David Beckham had the crown for the best winger at United. The former England captain scored 85 goals and registered 120 assists in 394 games for the Old Trafford club. There are fewer things as iconic in football than Beckham’s unique free-kick technique.

The torch was passed to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2000s, as he dominated the Premier League from the wing for many years. The Portuguese attacker scored 81 goals and registered 41 assists – when operating as a winger – during his time as a United player, as well as winning the 2008 Ballon d’Or.

Nowadays, Marcus Rashford is the main man out wide for the Red Devils. Despite a tough season, his record speaks for itself. Rashford has scored 131 goals and has 64 assists in exactly 400 games for United. He has time on his side to break Wayne Rooney’s club record of 253 goals.


marcus-rashford-manchester-united-efl-cup

However, United have been linked with signing one Premier League winger in recent weeks…

Man Utd looking to sign Premier League winger

The player in question here is Crystal Palace and France under-21 international Michael Olise, who is having a sublime season despite being hampered by injuries. The 22-year-old has scored ten goals and registered five assists in just 18 games in the Premier League, his best return yet.

Olise’s Premier League career by season

Season

Games

Goals

Assists

2021/22

26

2

5

2022/23

37

2

11

2023/24

18

10

5

Stats from Transfermarkt

This week, speaking to GiveMeSport, renowned football journalist Fabrizio Romano confirmed United’s interest in Olise. He explained that United are “informed on the release clause and informed on the conditions of the deal”, should Sir Jim Ratcliffe and co wish to pursue a deal for the Frenchman.

Indeed, according to BBC Sport, those responsible for transfer dealings at Selhurst Park would only consider bids that ‘start at £60m or more’. This goes for both Olise and teammate Eberechi Eze, who could also leave the club in the summer.


Michael-Olise-Crystal-Palace

Romano confirmed on X last week that Olise’s release clause is around the “region of £60m and will be active this summer”. This would take up a large chunk of United’s summer budget, however, which is reported to be around £100m, according to Mark Odgen of ESPN.

With that in mind, United may decide to look for an internal solution for their right-wing issues. In recent weeks, one candidate has become a viable option, despite a lack of game time under Erik ten Hag.

How Amad could improve Man Utd

It has been a whirlwind few months for young Ivorian winger Amad, who has risen from a rotational option for Ten Hag, to become a key starter in the last few weeks. Amad’s talent was clear from his time at Sunderland, where he was described as “special” by journalist Josh Bunting on X. He scored 14 goals and registered four assists in 42 games at the Stadium of Light last season.

Despite making just 11 appearances so far this season, and just two starts which have come in the last two Premier League games, the 21-year-old has certainly made his time on the pitch count. He has scored twice and registered one assist, but has played just 394 minutes, which equates to just four full 90 minutes.


Manchester United winger Amad Diallo

On the ball, you will find fewer players as silky as Amad. He has a low centre of gravity which he uses to glide in between defenders gracefully. Last season in the Championship, as per FBref, Amad averaged 3.72 progressive carries per 90 minutes, 2.33 carries into the final third per 90 minutes and 1.57 carries into the penalty area per 90 minutes. The first two stats rank him in the top 3%, with the latter ranking him in the top 4%.

He is also a creative genius in the final third, as he has shown for United this season. His progressive passing stats per 90 mins last season were excellent, averaging 5.12 which ranked him in the top 1%. Not only that, Amad played 3.90 final third passes and 1.22 passes into the penalty area, which place him in the top 1% and 3% respectively.

Football analyst H explained that although Amad is “an elegant footballer” who can “handle the ball in tighter spaces and maintain good balance and creativity”, something that really stands out is his finishing.

He scored 14 goals last season for Sunderland, plus twice this season for United, and three prior to that on loan at Rangers. Indeed, they have all come in a variety of ways. As H notes, Amad has, amongst other ways, scored by “curving it into the far corner on the inside of his foot, striking from range with good and clean power, and even using his head”.

This range of finishing, plus his excellent carrying skills and his ability to unlock defences with the ball at his feet, make Amad an elite talent. Although he has only played fleeting minutes, he has more than shown his worth so far.

In previous interviews, Ten Hag has acknowledged the young Ivorian’s lack of minutes, ensuring fans that he would “give him opportunities” to start. It is fair to say that, given his performance against Newcastle, in which he scored a wonderful goal and assisted Kobbie Mainoo, he has taken those chances.


Amad-Diallo-Garnacho-Eriksen

In that same quote, Ten Hag cited the fact that there is “a lot of competition” out wide for United. However, considering his recent outings in that famous red shirt, Amad could well be considered the first choice over the likes of Antony.

With that in mind, signing Olise could well reduce Amad’s opportunities next season. Should they decide against signing the France under-21 international, Amad could really make that right-wing spot his own, saving United and Ratcliffe £60m in the process.

However, the importance of squad depth cannot be understated. Having quality options to pick from on the right-hand side would be a complete luxury for Ten Hag next season, and would undoubtedly give him a selection headache many managers would be envious of.

Related

Ratcliffe will finally ditch Man Utd ace who earns 8x more than Amad

The Man United ace has cost the club £6.5m per goal this season.

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