Man United: Mohamed Simakan could be Maguire upgrade
With the summer transfer window fast approaching, speculation is now mounting as to just who will be arriving at Manchester United ahead of next season, with manager Erik ten Hag no doubt hoping to kick on from what has been an encouraging, albeit far from perfect debut campaign at the helm.
While Saturday’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers has got the club’s top-four bid back on track – with the Carabao Cup winners also having the chance of gaining further silverware in the FA Cup final next month – the current campaign has not been without its notable lows, including suffering hefty defeats away to the likes of Brentford, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Those shambolic drubbings have showcased that there is still plenty of work for United to do to improve defensively, despite the fact that long-serving goalkeeper David De Gea currently ranks first in the Premier League for clean sheets (16).
In order to address that problem, speculation is rife that club captain Harry Maguire will be among those to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, with the Englishman’s potential departure opening the door for a possible new recruit in the backline.
According to a recent report from journalist Santi Aouna, the Red Devils may have already found a replacement for the 30-year-old in the form of RB Leipzig’s Mohamed Simakan, with the transfer insider stating that the club – as well as rivals Arsenal – have “enquired” about the signing of the promising Frenchman.
Would Simakan be a good signing for Man United?
The obvious benefit of signing the 23-year-old would be his ability to feature in both a centre-back role and at right-back if required, with such flexibility having seen the “complete” defender likened to a “young Lilian Thuram” by talent scout Jacek Kulig.
That comparison to his legendary compatriot – who was memorably part of Les Blues’ World Cup-winning side in 1998 and is second to only Hugo Lloris for caps for his country – is an indication of just what a huge talent Simakan has, having shone in Germany in recent times.
The £26m-rated powerhouse has racked up 76 appearances across all fronts for the Bundesliga side since his arrival from Strasbourg in 2021, notably scoring three goals and providing eight assists in 35 games in all competitions so far this season.
Not just a greater attacking threat than Maguire – who has no goals and assists this season – the Marseille-born ace also appears to offer a greater ability at playing out from the back as he ranks in the top 6% among his European peers for progressive passes, as well as in the top 2% for progressive carries.
Maguire, by contrast, ranks in just the top 42% and the top 16% for those same two metrics, respectively, with the United man having been restricted to just seven top-flight starts after falling down the pecking order under Ten Hag.
It is also Simakan who appears to offer a greater ball-winning presence having averaged 1.67 tackles per 90 across the last 365 days, as per FBref, while the former Leicester City man has averaged just 1.03 in that regard.
As such, turning to the Leipzig sensation could well represent the Maguire upgrade that Ten Hag will be craving, helping to apply greater pressure on his fellow Frenchman, Raphael Varane over the coming years.