According to latest reports, Manchester United are said to be interested in RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele and are closely monitoring the player’s situation. The Red Devils are planning for a massive overhaul under new incoming manager Erik ten Hag. They are looking at various players across Europe and the French defender is reportedly one of them.
Mukiele joined RB Leipzig in the summer of 2018 from Montpellier. Since joining the Bundesliga club, the Frenchman has established himself as a mainstay in the team, having the ability to operate as a right-back or as a centre-back in a three-man backline.
Mukiele has just one year remaining on his current contract. Leipzig have failed to negotiate a contract extension and will listen to offers for the defender this summer. He has made 145 appearances for the German side, including 23 Champions League matches (stats via transfermarkt).
According to Foot Mercato (via Sports Illustrated), Manchester United are keen admirers of RB Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele and are looking to secure the player’s services in the summer. However, the Red Devils will face competition from PSG and Atletico Madrid, who are also interested.
The MEN reported that the 24-year-old could be signed for a very nominal fee in the region of £19 million. Now, as per a latest BILD report (via United In Focus), the Frenchman might be available for only £8.5 million, which would be a real bargain, especially given the player’s qualities.
United’s Right-back Conundrum
United thought their right-back issues were solved when they spent £50 million to bring Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in 2019. But this season since Ralf Rangnick took over, Diogo Dalot has been given preference over the Englishman. The reason for this move was the lack of attacking contributions from AWB.
Wan-Bissaka’s defensive stats match with some of the best in the Premier League, including the likes of Van Dijk, Ruben Dias and Azpilicueta. But in terms of attacking down the wings and putting a ball into the box for strikers, he seems to be struggling quite a bit. The problem for Wan-Bissaka is that players in his position like Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold are registering several assists and goals per season.
Moreover, Wan-Bissaka has been constantly ignored by England manager Gareth Southgate too because of his inability to cross the ball. Dalot seems to have solved the problem in terms of putting crosses, but his defensive abilities are a cause for concern with the team shipping goals through gaps left in defence.
Nordi Mukiele – Player Profile
Nordi Mukiele is just 24-years-old and earned his first international cap for France earlier this season. He hopes to make his way into Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad. United have been linked with Max Aarons and Djed Spence from the Championship as well. But with the English tag on these players, they are likely to cost more than £20 million.
Managers expect their wing-backs to provide width in possession and help create angles to play out from the back. Mukiele is an outstanding player who has plenty of pace and reads the game well. He has a 77.53% win percentage on defensive duels in the German league. He is conservative in defence and combative in attacking situations. Mukiele covers the whole of the right flank which makes him an outlet for midfielders in tight plays.
He is an attack-minded individual who loves to get forward, and will frequently be seen making surging runs from the back during Leipzig counter-attacks. He can also make runs behind the opposition defence to collect the long balls played by the centre-backs, thereby providing an extra player in attack.
The French international has a wicked right foot and his shot map shows a good number of strikes from outside the box with a few goals to his name. During opposition’s counter-attacks, his pace lets him catch up with the opponents and can turn defence into attack quickly with his interceptions.
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Manchester United’s wingers generally prefer to play in the half-spaces. Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Elanga are more effective closer to the goal. Therefore, United have often need a right-back to maintain the width and be more involved in the final third. The right-back position is a key area for United to work on.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has failed to perform at the expected level, and Diogo Dalot will need an upgrade. The £8.5m fee for Nordi Mukiele is a bargain for Manchester United who need to make multiple signings this season to help Ten Hag with his rebuild. Ralf Rangnick, who formerly worked at Leipzig, was the one who brought Mukiele into the team and that would be a significant factor to get the deal done.
The United board are aware of the shortcomings in the right-back position which has prevented them from competing in the Premier League properly. The Red Devils are looking to desperately end their five-year wait for silverware under Erik Ten Hag and are happy to back their manager with the funds needed to do that and their early transfer window actions signify just that.
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