Manchester United are unlikely to make a bid for Declan Rice this transfer window, and West Ham would not even pick up the phone to arrange a deal in the middle of the season.
According to BILD, Borussia Moenchengladbach is eager to make a move for its important midfielder Denis Zakaria, who is nearing the end of his contract.
According to the Mirror, Zakaria has emerged as a key target for United, with a price tag of £25 million.
In truth, Zakaria might cost much less, with ‘Gladbach anxious to prevent losing him on a free transfer in the summer.
According to a recent rumour from Gazetta dello Sport, Zakaria might be transferred for as cheap as £8.5 million in January, claiming interest from Juventus.
Zakaria upgrades United’s midfield
Two years ago Zakaria told the Bundesliga website: “I’ve been compared to [Patrick] Vieira and [Paul] Pogba – two more players I really respect and, in a way, see as role models. When I watch videos of them I think I’d like to play that way.”
The Switzerland international is 25 and has been a regular in the Bundesliga this season, although his form has been mixed.
He was the star man in a win over Borussia Dortmund, in which he scored the winner and outplayed Jude Bellingham. But there have been lows too, with his side on the wrong end of a 6-0 thrashing against surprise package Freiburg, who sit third in the division.
In Zakaria’s favour is the fact United manager Ralf Rangnick will know him well from his time in the Bundesliga. The midfielder also stands at 6ft 3″ tall, fitting the interim boss’ desire to sign a midfielder with height, reported by The Athletic.
Data from FBRef.com ranks Zakaria in the top 10 for pass completion in the Bundesliga, with 90 per cent of his passes completed this season. This shows a refreshing trait, with United’s players struggling to retain possession in games on a weekly basis.
Off the ball Zakaria has blocked 36 shots this season, which ranks in the top five in the league, while also averaging more than two interceptions per game at 2.19. The highest among United players is 1.3 per game.
Just these two traits alone, with Zakaria’s passing and defensive alertness, shows what he could bring to United’s team.
Bundesliga’s fastest midfielder
Denis Zakaria is the sixth quickest player in the Bundesliga this season, according to Bundesliga.com, with a maximum speed of 35.62 km/h.
All five players in front of him are attackers or defenders, with Zakaria being the division’s quickest midfielder.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s determination to wait for dream acquisitions – who may never arrive – has contributed to United’s midfield being neglected and deteriorating. Declan Rice was his preferred signing, thus United did not sign anyone else, with the intention of trying again next summer.
Instead of purchasing a second or third choice, United has forced to play another half-season with a decimated midfield. Instead of Rice, United might have signed Ruben Neves or Yves Bissouma, both of whom would have been excellent acquisitions.
Zakaria would be an immediate boost for United, and with a possible cost of less than £10 million, this is a prospect the club should consider carefully.