Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Seven Casemiro replacements Man Utd could buy this summer as they target perfect Kobbie Mainoo partner

Joao Neves at Benfica, Amadou Onana at Everton and Exequiel Palacios at Bayer Leverkusen.

Joao Neves, Amadou Onana, Exequiel Palacios have all been linked with moves to Man Utd.

Manchester United are in the market for a new defensive midfielder as Casemiro faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford. 

The Brazil international enjoyed a brilliant debut season at United following his move from Real Madrid, but he has struggled with form and fitness issues in 2023/24.

He has been linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League and United are also unlikely to pursue a permanent deal for Sofyan Amrabat.

While Kobbie Mainoo has been a revelation in his breakthrough season at Old Trafford, he will potentially need a new midfield partner in the 2024/25 campaign.

We’ve identified seven defensive midfielders that United could target in the summer transfer window.

Amadou Onana

A midfielder with Premier League experience, Onana joined Everton from Lille for £33.5million in August 2022 and has become a fan favourite at Goodison Park.

The Belgium international – who has an imposing 6ft 4in frame – is a brilliant ball-winner and now looks ready to take that next big step in his career.

“I am truly convinced that there are no upper limits for me,” he told Transfermarkt. “That doesn’t mean to sound arrogant. But I believe in my abilities and that I can come to a top club and become a regular player there.”

While Everton will want to keep the 22-year-old, they may have to sell him in the summer in order to ease their financial issues.

They were recently found guilty of breaking the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules and have reportedly put a £51million price tag on Onana.

TEAMtalk understands that United made contact with the midfielder to sound out his preferred choice, but they will face competition from Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Exequiel Palacios

While Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong have been the standout performers for Bayer Leverkusen in 2023/24, Palacios has also been a crucial cog in Xabi Alonso’s team.

He has built a brilliant midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka and they are currently 10 points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race.

The 25-year-old also possesses considerable international pedigree, having formed part of the Argentina team which lifted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

His form for club and country has attracted the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including United, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Leverkusen will reportedly demand around £51million for the combative midfielder, who is under contract at the BayArena until 2028.

Joao Neves

Benfica’s academy is widely regarded as one of the best in European football and Neves is the latest talent from their conveyor belt.

He made his first-team debut in December 2022 and has helped fill the void left by Enzo Fernandez’s £106.8million transfer to Chelsea.

The Portugal international – who has a £102million release clause in his contract – possesses a lot of technical ability, but he also does the dirty work off the ball.

TEAMtalk revealed that United have a long-standing interest in the 19-year-old, who could join international team-mates Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot at Old Trafford.

“He’s a great player, I don’t know if he would have a place [at Man Utd] or not,” Fernandes said. “It depends on the coach and his ideas. But he’s an excellent player and an excellent kid, very professional, he will have a bright future wherever he goes.

“I would love to have him by my side. Because he has quality and will have a bright future. It depends on him. What I want most is the best for him.”

Morten Hjulmand

Alongside Joao Neves, United have also been linked with another defensive midfielder from the Primeira Liga.

Hjumland joined Sporting CP from Serie A side Lecce in a £15.4million deal last summer and is enjoying a brilliant debut season in Portugal.

The Denmark international – who has a £69million release clause in his contract – stands at 6ft 1n tall and has been averaging 2.4 tackles per 90 minutes in 2023/24.

According to The Sun, United were willing to offer Facundo Pellistri in a swap deal for Hjulmand in the January transfer window but Sporting weren’t interested.

He’s also been linked with Tottenham and Barcelona but United have reportedly identified Sporting boss Ruben Amorim as a potential replacement for Erik ten Hag, which could give them an advantage in the race for his signature.

“Amorim likes Hjulmand a lot, so wherever he goes, Hjulmand could very likely join him,” journalist Gianluca Di Marzio said.

Morten Hjulmand, Sporting CP

Morten Hjulmand might swap Sporting CP for a Premier League club

Youssouf Fofana

Fofana joined Monaco from RC Strasbourg in January 2020 and has since become one of the most well-rounded midfielders in Ligue 1.

The 25-year-old is renowned for his ability to win tackles and intercept passes in the middle of the park, but he can also play in a more advanced box-to-box role.

According to Fabrizio Romano, United approached Monaco last summer and tabled a loan bid with an option to buy at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

While that offer was unsuccessful, United could reignite their interest in the France international in the summer transfer window.

His contract expires in 2025 and Monaco are reportedly willing to accept a fee of around £26million for his services in order to avoid losing him on a free transfer.

Ederson

Not to be confused with his namesake at Manchester City, Ederson is a versatile midfielder who currently plies his trade for Atalanta in Serie A.

The 24-year-old has produced several eye-catching performances in Italy and has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle.

“He has the ability and the physicality to handle the pace of the game [in England],” his former manager at Corinthians, Tiago Nunes, told Sky Sports. “He is a very vertical player with a lot of pace in the final third of the pitch.

‘This is a player with very particular characteristics who can develop even more in a league as strong as the Premier League.”

According to the Daily Mail, United scouts have also been watching the Brazilian, and he could replace his compatriot at Old Trafford.

United have previously done business with Atalanta, having bought in Amad Diallo and Rasmus Hojlund in recent windows.

Mats Wieffer

While Wieffer might be the least-known player on this list, he could still be a very shrewd signing for United.

The 24-year-old joined Feyenoord in the summer of 2022 and made an immediate impact, helping them win their first Eredivisie title since the 2016/17 season.

He’s also been in great form in 2023/24, averaging 1.3 key passes, an 83.7% passing accuracy rate and 2.9 tackles per game in the Eredivisie.

The Netherlands international is reportedly valued at around £25million, which would represent a bargain deal for United.

But they will have to act quickly to secure his signature as he has been heavily linked with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in recent weeks.

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