Five stars who could replace Nemanja Matic at Man Utd as Barcelona eye transfer

Manchester United’s need for a top-quality defensive midfielder is nothing new, but transfer developments could have given the pursuit fresh impetus.

United have won just two of their past seven matches in all competitions following Saturday’s 4-2 defeat by Leicester, further highlighting their problems in the centre of the pitch.

Nemanja Matic started at the King Power Stadium, ahead of Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek, while Fred was unavailable due to international duty with Brazil.

The Serbian midfielder did not enjoy a good afternoon – and he might not be at the club much longer after Barcelona emerged as possible suitors.

According toThe Sun, Barca want to be kept updated on Matic’s future, meaning United could be forced into the market for a replacement for the 33-year-old who has 18 months left on his contract.

Daily Star Sport has taken a look at five players who they could sign.

Declan Rice

The best possible option for United – but also the most expensive. Rice is a wanted man after 18 months of consistent form for West Ham and England.

The 22-year-old midfielder is a dynamic player who would offer United what they need in terms of positioning and ball-winning.

He has added leadership and goalscoring to his game this season, wearing the captain’s armband with Mark Noble on the bench and scoring twice in the Europa League.

According toESPN, United are interested in signing Rice and have earmarked him as a priority target for the upcoming transfer windows in 2022.

Rice has turned down the offer of a new deal with the Hammers, but is under contract until June 2024. West Ham reportedly value him at around £100million.

Kalvin Phillips

Rice’s midfield partner for England is another attractive prospect for United – and another the club are weighing up.

With Rice commanding a big price tag, Daily Star Sport understands that Phillips is United’s preferred alternative because is valued in the region of £60m.

Phillips is happy at Leeds and is under contract until 2024, but concerns that Marcelo Bielsa could quit the club at the end of the season means he could be an achievable target.

The 25-year-old is currently out with a calf injury and Leeds are suffering because of it, with the club 17th in the Premier League with one win from their opening eight games.

Which defensive midfielder should Manchester United sign in 2022? Have your say in the comments section below.

Aurelien Tchouameni

Tchouameni is one of the hottest names in European football at the moment after helping France come from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in the final of the Nations League.

United are watching the 21-year-old Monaco midfielder, with their scouts joining those of Real Madrid, PSG, Liverpool and Manchester City at Tchouameni’s games this season.

According toESPN, it would take a fee of between £42m (€50m) and £50m (€60m) to bring Monaco to the negotiating table.

Tchouameni has won five caps for France and is seen as one of the most exciting young players in Ligue 1 currently.

Ruben Neves

United were heavily linked with Wolves midfielder Neves during the summer transfer window, but ultimately he stayed put in the West Midlands.

The 24-year-old is a key player for Wolves and plays as an all-action central midfielder, contributing at both ends of the pitch.

He is a much-loved player at Wolves whose tenacity and long-shooting are particular strengths.

But despite his standing at Wolves, the club would reportedly entertain offers for Neves. According toThe Athletic, Wolves were ‘open’ to the prospect of selling Neves in the summer and value the Portuguese international at around £45m.

Yves Bissouma

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Brighton midfielder Bissouma was linked with a whole host of clubs in the summer, including United and Arsenal.

In the end he stayed on the south coast, but it seems likely the 25-year-old could move on in the near future.

“My dream is like every player, I want to play in the Champions League, I want to be champions,” he said in September. “I want to compare myself on the top level, not just with other players.”

Bissouma has established himself as one of the most consistent ball-winners in the Premier League and his discipline would surely help solve United’s current problems off the ball.

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