Paris Saint-Germain youngster Adrien Rabiot would be a wise early purchase by new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal. The Red Devils are keen on the teenage midfielder, who is also generating interest from English Premier League rivals Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, per Daily Mail reporter Simon Jones.
United need a refresh after last season's dismal seventh-placed finish. That means getting younger and better at key positions, particularly in midfield.
That's an area that has been weak for too long, even during United's most recent EPL title wins in 2011 and 2013. Former manager Sir Alex Ferguson was content to rely on ageing pros like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, while so-called new blood like Tom Cleverley failed to reach expectations.
When David Moyes took over last summer, his answer was to wedge Marouane Fellaini into an ill-fitting defensive midfield role. Fellaini is a talented player, but only when deployed in areas where he can do damage, namely further forward.
But despite the failures of previous bosses, Van Gaal certainly won't let the midfield remain in a state of decay. The Dutchman needs those positions strong to make his possession-based, efficient brand of attacking football work.
Enter a prospect like Rabiot. The 19-year-old is a naturally stylish passer, able to quickly recycle possession before shifting into space for the return.
Tall and slender, Rabiot would need to prove he could handle the physical rigours of the EPL. That has been an issue in the past, but Van Gaal will love the youngster's versatility.
Rabiot isn't simply limited to advanced areas. Writing for ESPNFC.com in 2012, Paris-based journalist Jonathan Johnson endorsed Rabiot's ability to influence a game from multiple areas of the pitch:
At the tender age of just 17, Rabiot's waif-like physique is similar to that of Javier Pastore, the gifted Argentine playmaker at the heart of the Parc des Princes midfield. His height makes him a threat in the air but he often shies away from physical confrontation. Instead, Rabiot's positioning and excellent control of the ball keep him out of danger and away from conflict.
A holding midfielder now, but also capable of playing out wide, Rabiot is competition for new arrival Marco Verratti for the deep-lying playmaker role made fashionable by Andrea Pirlo.
Intelligent, with a good passing range and varied movement, Rabiot is the type of midfielder Van Gaal will covet this summer. United fans are aware of this pattern already.
It explains the links to FC Barcelona and former Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas, per Metro. However, Jones contends there's actually no room on the Van Gaal wishlist for either Fabregas or Bayern Munich midfield gem Toni Kroos.
Of course, the pair were targets of the Moyes regime. But Van Gaal will have his own very specific ideas about the players he wants to help herald a revolution at Old Trafford.
Rabiot can be one of those players, provided he earns regular playing time and delivers on his obvious promise. He has been forgotten in the French capital, amid a midfield contingent overflowing with quality.
The Ligue 1 champions have a defensive stalwart in Thiago Motta, a quality passer in Marco Verratti and a powerful runner in Blaise Matuidi. Throw in ex-Newcastle United schemer Yohan Cabaye, and there's simply no room for Rabiot.
But United can certainly make room for an active and skilled ball player ready to be developed into a star.
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