Manchester United are closing in on a move for Fiorentina defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Red Devils have submitted an official proposal worth €25 million plus bonuses for the Morocco international midfielder, but they are yet to receive a response from the Serie A club.
Man United have already signed Mason Mount and Andre Onana this summer, and Amrabat has been identified as the player to provide support for Casemiro in defensive midfield.
With the transfer close to being finalised, we analyse some of the statistics that show Man United are right to pursue a deal for Amrabat.
United move for Amrabat makes sense
Amrabat was one of the stars of the 2022 World Cup as Morocco defied expectations and reached the semi-final of the global showpiece tournament.
The 26-year-old midfielder was a one-man wrecking ball for the Atlas Lions, breaking up opposition play with relative ease and protecting the backline with aplomb.
The Moroccan averaged 2.3 tackles per game in Qatar and was dribbled past an average of 0.7 times per match while winning 49% of his ground duels across his seven appearances.
Amrabat also averaged 56.6 touches per 90 minutes, proving his ability to dictate the tempo of the game, despite featuring for a team that focused more on defensive solidity.
Compared to Casemiro, who featured for a more possession-hungry Brazil side, the former Real Madrid man averaged 2.8 tackles per game and was dribbled past an average of 0.5 times.
Casemiro also won 52% of his ground duels while averaging 78.3 touches per 90. But he was guilty of losing the ball an average of 12.3 times per game as opposed to Amrabat’s 9.6.
When comparing how they fared at club level, Amrabat averaged 1.3 tackles per 90 in Serie A last season. He was dribbled past an average of 0.4 times per match and won 48% of his ground duels.
His soon-to-be Man United counterpart Casemiro averaged 3.2 tackles per 90 in the Premier League last term.
Although he was dribbled past an average of 1.6 times per match, he made up for it by winning 52% of his ground duels.
The desire to get stuck in to break up play, and to disrupt the rhythm of opponents, is one that is common with defensive midfielders, but Amrabat has shown he can protect the ball better than Casemiro.
Casemiro lost the ball an average of 13 times per 90 in the Premier League last season, much more than Amrabat’s 7.2 per game in Serie A.
Amrabat’s passing range also show the Moroccan could be a perfect blend of both Casemiro and Christian Eriksen.
Of players to attempt 50 or more long balls in Serie A last season, only Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka (81.2%) returned a better long ball success rate than Amrabat (80%).
The ability to pick out a teammate from range is crucial for Erik Ten Hag’s Man United side that so often plays on the counter-attack. They scored more counter-attacking goals (9) than any other Premier League club last term.
Despite their prowess on the break, Bruno Fernandes recorded the best long ball success rate for Man United (57.7%) – way below Amrabat’s tally.
Casemiro followed closely (55.9%), while Eriksen placed third (54.7%). If Amrabat’s ability to pick a pass is added to Ten Hag’s side, players like Marcus Rashford could thrive even more.
Ten Hag already has a solid midfield base in Casemiro and Eriksen at his disposal, and the pair are unlikely to be disrupted except in cases of suspension or injuries.
Add Mason Mount to that list, and the Dutch manager has three midfielders who can muster a formidable partnership in the middle of the park.
But Man United will be competing on four fronts next season, and with Scott McTominay and Fred linked with an exit, an extra player in midfield, especially one of Amrabat’s versatility and tactical flexibility, will prove a smart move from the Red Devils.
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