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There can’t be any doubt that Toni Kroos is a world class footballer, possibly the best midfielder in his position in the world, yet Manchester United would be entering risky territory with their reported interest in the German midfielder.
Transfers between Real Madrid and Manchester United have rarely been straightforward. There have been the odd exception where the English club have been desperate to ship a player out for whatever reason and Los Blancos have been willing recipients; David Beckham, Gabriel Heinze and Ruud van Nistelrooy spring to mind.
However Real Madrid’s long pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo irritated Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United immeasurably, as did the Spanish giants’ attempts to sign David de Gea.
United managed to prise Angel di Maria from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but very much on Los Blancos’ terms with United making a loss on the Argentine after just one season at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho wants an additional midfielder who is capable of supplying the team’s incredibly gifted attacking line with passes from deep. It’s become abundantly clear that Paul Pogba can’t play in a midfield two and Kroos’ arrival would certainly help him in theory.
However you wonder whether the former Bayern Munich star is the exact player the Reds need, and whether he is worth going to the negotiating table with Real Madrid over.
Florentino Perez has been horrified at the way his team has meekly defended their LaLiga crown this season, even more so when you consider how he has acquiesced to every single one of Zinedine Zidane’s transfer demands as a way of repaying him for the multiple Champions League successes.
Perez has wanted to sign De Gea for a number of years but the French coach has always maintained that he didn’t want to sign the Spanish stopper as he trusted Keylor Navas.
Perez has wanted to make a big splash in the market last summer, Kylian Mbappe was his ideal signing yet Zidane put a kibosh on the deal as he knew he would have to let one of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo leave.
You have to admire a coach’s loyalty to his players, but there are certain similarities between Zidane and a later years Arsene Wenger in the transfer market.
With Zidane’s power diminished at this point, he may even be out of the job by the time June arrives, Manchester United will be met with a Real Madrid president who essentially will do what he wants.
If that means signing David de Gea, then he will be demanded as part of any deal for Kroos, and when you look at Manchester United’s performance in Seville on Wednesday, the club can’t afford to let him go unless there are serious plans to sign an experienced, world class defender to play alongside Eric Bailly.
One of the issues United’s midfield has is a lack of energy, Nemanja Matic isn’t necessarily a quick footballer and neither is Kroos, playing the pair of them together could put too much of a physical strain on the players around them.
It’s worth noting that Kroos’ greatest successes have come when paired alongside a more energetic midfielder in Luka Modric, although he did work within Jupp Heynckes’ midfield three alongside an ageing Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in 2012/13, neither of whom were great athletes by that point.
The passing ability of the German would be incredibly welcome at Old Trafford, however you wonder if there may well be a balance to be found, especially as Matic would be the partner.
Jean-Michael Seri was hours away from joining Barcelona in the summer before the two clubs sensationally reneged on the deal, Xavi himself has said the Ivorian is the player who most reminds him of himself, surely he should be worth looking at?
The Nice midfielder is a little like a younger Michael Carrick, although his height could be a serious problem within the Premier League.
He’s mobile and incredibly adept at passing the ball through the lines of midfield, it’s the kind of service that Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial would thrive on and would turn Manchester United into an incredible threat on the counter attack.
2018 is a World Cup year and as such transfers are much more difficult to complete if much of the leg work hasn’t been done in advance.
It’s unlikely that Kroos is desperate to leave the Spanish capital and it’s unlikely the club are eager to push him out of the door. Any possible deal would be done on Real Madrid’s terms and it likely wouldn’t even be considered until the end of the season.
As much as people like to believe otherwise, football players are not robots. Those involved in the World Cup will take an extended holiday immediately after, of course their agents do much of the work but at the end of the day the player has to give his okay for a move.
United could be left waiting until August for Kroos. That’s hardly good preparation for the season ahead with a midfielder set to be the marquee signing of the season.
It should be encouraging to supporters that the Portuguese coach can clearly see the area of weakness within his team, however you wonder if the club would be better served dealing with a club other than Real Madrid, as it can only cause problems.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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