Manchester United might have been reinvigorated by the arrival of caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær after the departure of José Mourinho, but there are still clear deficiencies within their squad.
One weakness lies in the fact that they are yet to sign a right winger, a position they have been needing to recruit for several years now, but instead continue with Juan Mata out on the flank.
The Red Devils have been ineffective down their right-hand side since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, with David Moyes signing Mata and then proceeding to play him on the wing.
While Mata has been a great servant to the club, it’s clear that his suitability is through the middle, just behind the main centre-forward. In that position, the Spaniard can dictate play at his pace and link up more fluidly with his midfield and forwards.
He simply doesn’t have the speed associated with a Manchester United winger.
Jesse Lingard, too, has been forced out wide on occasion, and although he does have the pace needed, the Englishman looks far more comfortable in the number 10 role also.
He has enjoyed a fair few good games on the right, but his instinct is to constantly cut back inside and attack through the middle, therefore making it obvious and easier for defences to form a low block if they know the main areas in which Man United are to attack.
One player, however, that should appeal to the Manchester United bosses would be Juventus’ Douglas Costa. The Brazilian is priced at 4/1 with BetVictor to join Solskjær’s squad before the end of January, while the same bookies offer odds of 12/1 apiece on him to join any French, Spanish or German side.
The former Bayern Munich wide man joined the Italian champions in 2017 on an initial loan and has impressed throughout his tenure in Turin, which allowed Juventus to make the decision of acquiring him on a permeant transfer last summer for £36 million.
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Costa has the necessary speed to make it in the Premier League and also the tendency to attack to the byline. At too many times have Manchester United’s wide players decided to shift inside and play through the middle, causing there to be a lack of width that has stifled their play from time to time.
The Brazil international, however, is more of an orthodox winger, providing crosses from wide positions and looking to take on his opposite man nine times out of 10.
The Juventus winger’s 2017/18 season was comfortably his best in Europe, having scored six times and assisted another 14 goals in all competitions. While his raw numbers are perhaps not as impressive as other players who occupy similar positions, Costa should be judged on his overall contribution.
Last season, he was one of the most offensive players in Serie A, ranking second in his dribbles per-game with 3.4, just behind leader Felipe Anderson, now of West Ham.
Costa also finished the season with 12 assists, once again coming in second, behind Lazio’s Luis Alberto. The Brazilian is an incredibly attacking player that has shown his prowess with the ball at his feet. Once he sees the green grass in front of him, there is little defenders can do but foul him in order to stop him in his tracks.
The Red Devils currently sit six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with five months to overturn their fortunes and finish in a top four position – William Hill give odds of 3/1 to qualify for the Champions League domestically, but Paddy Power fancy Chelsea to make it at 1/3.
If Man United have any chance whatsoever in staging a mightily impressive comeback come the end of the season, Costa might just be the player that can deliver them the extra boost needed.
While the Brazilian’s contract doesn’t expire until 2022, there are reports suggesting that he is growing tired in Turin and that Manchester United are keen to capitalise.
His performances have shown this season that he is competing nowhere near his true ability – a change of scenery might just be what he needs.
Juventus are usually tough negotiators, but with the recent signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italians’ wage bill is operating at full capacity.
A sale of one of their high earners might be in order, especially with Juve’s likely signing of Aaron Ramsey on a mega wage that is set to be completed by the end of the season.
It would be an important statement of intent should Manchester United sign Costa this month heading into the business end of the season. With the team’s lacklustre output down the right, this might just be the player to relight the fires that once were.
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