Monday, April 15, 2024

Manchester United transfer deadline day: Marcel Sabitzer is the perfect bandage for Christian Eriksen’s injury

This season, the stability around Manchester United can’t be ignored. Coming in, Erik ten Hag has taken control and not only has the team on course to make the top four but has also dealt with any issues in his way like Cristiano Ronaldo drama before departing the club. They figure to only get better as United are continuing the trend of doing good business during the transfer window as the Red Devils added Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich on deadline day.

The versatile midfielder has spent a season and a half with the German club, only making 40 league appearances as a rotational player and was involved in four goals. With Christian Eriksen going down with an ankle injury and out until April, ten Hag needed more depth in his midfield and will get just that in the 28-year-old Austrian. Eriksen is a massive loss for the club as he was integral to the team’s buildup play and also took the majority of set pieces, but there’s a chance that Sabitzer can provide some of what they lose in Eriksen.

“Marcel is a player that we have watched for a long time. The opportunity arose quickly, and we knew that he was someone with the ability and character to make an impact,” Manchester United football directory John Murtough said on Sabitzer’s signing. “He adds further quality to our squad and experience to the dressing room, and all of us are pleased to be welcoming him to Manchester United.”  

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During his time with RB Leipzig, Sabitzer did a lot of what Eriksen does for United, orchestrating play and providing goals and assists from deep. If the physical abilities from that time are still there, he can make a large impact on the squad possibly seeing the purchase option triggered. Sabitzer landed in Manchester late on Tuesday and is at the training ground to finalize the deal, according to reports. 

For a United side that has gone through years of mismanagement, this is the kind of move that top teams make in the January window. Even if a move is for short-term gain, it’s important that it isn’t a deal that jeopardizes the long-term future of the club by having them tied to lengthy, expensive contracts. If Sabitzer doesn’t work out, he goes back to Bayern and the team is fine moving forward. On the pitch, if the move doesn’t work the team is still pretty well set as Fred can provide support with Bruno Fernandes taking on more of a driving role in the buildup. To a lesser degree, this is a similar deal to the one that Bayern Munich made with Manchester City for Joao Cancelo in terms of seeing how things go with a player who has talent but needs a new environment. 

If Sabitzer does work and he’s a fixture in the lineup, that’s when United can discuss keeping him on a short-term deal, and it’s a move that helps transition to the summer clear-out that is likely coming for the squad. Still in Europa League, United needs usable depth at every position which is why Wout Weghorst was also added on loan during this window.

The expectation is for Sabitzer to either slot into the lineup or split time with Fred alongside Casemiro depending on his fitness. Both players will offer something different than Eriksen did as a calm metronome to keep play ticking over, but it gives United the ability to bring out different looks depending on the opposition.

Ten Hag has the vision to get the club into a top-four place and is being backed by the board to pursue his targets to get there as well. It’s the most stability that has been seen at Manchester United since the days of Alex Ferguson with ten Hag still in the early days of his time with the club. Even if the team doesn’t make top four, the signs of growth on and off the pitch are there and Sabitzer can certainly help achieve their goals this season and beyond.

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