The January transfer window has closed, and every club has their squad set for the remainder of the season.
For most of the transfer window, there wasn’t much to report from Old Trafford. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Martin Dubravka departing, Wout Weghorst and Jack Butland were brought in on loan.
But there was one more late transfer to come on deadline day. Following the injury of Christian Eriksen, Marcel Sabitzer arrived from Bayern Munich, also on loan.
In usual circumstances, the Austrian probably wouldn’t be a starter ahead of Casemiro, Eriksen or Bruno Fernandes. Nonetheless, he’s still an impressive back-up option to have.
And, for a club still competing on four fronts, having this kind of depth will be necessary. But how does Man United’s depth stack up compared to other top sides in the Premier League?
Starters: Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes
Back-ups: Scott McTominay, Fred, Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek, Kobbie Mainoo
On the surface, this may seem enough to last the rest of the season. However, with Eriksen and Van de Beek both out long-term and McTominay also sidelined, the supporting cast will very much be needed.
Overall, it’s a strong selection for manager Erik ten Hag. Casemiro is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world, Eriksen is an excellent player, and Fernandes is getting back to his best.
As for the second-choice options, they’re also reasonably solid. McTominay and Fred were, at one point, regular starters. Meanwhile, Sabitzer and Van de Beek have proven themselves abroad.
As for Mainoo, he’s an unknown quantity. Barring more injuries, It’s unlikely that we’ll see much more of him this season.
Starters: Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne
Back-ups: Kalvin Phillips, Ilkay Gundogan, Maximo Perrone
Man City are often renowned for their absurd squad depth. However, there is an argument to be made that they’re somewhat lacking in midfield.
Don’t get us wrong, they have some good midfielders. But a couple of injuries could leave them relying on unproven players.
Despite this, it’s difficult to ignore their quality. De Bruyne is often cited as the world’s best midfielder, while Rodri and Silva are also world-class.
Starters: Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard
Back-ups: Jorginho, Mohamed Elneny, Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe
It’s been a strong season for Arsenal as they bid to win their first league title since 2004. But, while their first choice XI is strong, many have doubts over their depth.
This is particularly a concern in midfield. Mikel Arteta has been reluctant to rotate his central midfield trio – Partey, Xhaka, and Odegaard have started every league game when available. Should they be needed, the supporting cast will have big shoes to fill.
Smith Rowe was once one of the brightest prospects at Arsenal, and Vieira has also looked promising when he has played. As for Jorginho, he’s a bit different to what Arteta usually wants in his midfield, but he has undeniable quality.
Starters: N’Golo Kante, Enzo Fernandez, Mason Mount
Back-ups: Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Denis Zakaria, Conor Gallagher, Carney Chukwuemeka, Hakim Ziyech
It’s no surprise that Chelsea allowed Jorginho to leave in January. After all, there is hardly enough room in the squad for any more midfielders.
It begs the question – was their pursuit of Fernandez really necessary this January? Could they have waited until the summer? Should they have put that money and time towards a goalscorer instead?
Nonetheless, they’ve ended up with a wide selection of capable central midfielders. Fernandez is one of the brightest talents in the world, while Kante is still an excellent player when fit (which unfortunately isn’t often). Having players like Kovacic and Zakaria coming off the bench is extremely useful.
But it does feel like there is something of a surplus. Expect one or two of these to move on next summer.
Starters: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur
Back-ups: Yves Bissouma, Pape Matar Sarr, Oliver Skipp
Tottenham Hotspur’s selection of central midfielders is very much shaped by Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation. The system requires only two midfielders, while the wing-backs and wingers are relied on for creativity.
As a result, Spurs have fewer midfielders in their squad than other top teams, and they lean towards the industrial side of the game. Hojbjerg and Bentancur are Conte’s preferred pairing, and they are a formidable partnership.
However, question marks remain over the second choices. Bissouma is yet to recapture the form he showed at Brighton & Hove Albion, while Sarr and Skipp are still unproven at the highest level.
Starters: Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Thiago
Back-ups: James Milner, Naby Keita, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arthur Melo
Jurgen Klopp has several midfielders to choose from. The problem is, most of them aren’t that good.
Thiago is a top player and makes a real difference when fit. But aside from the Spaniard, they’re lacking.
Fabinho and Henderson can be useful when they’re on form, but they have looked miles off their best this season.
Keita looks good in spells but is wildly inconsistent. Milner looks to be a few years past his peak, and Oxlade-Chamberlain simply needs to be moved on.
Elliott and Jones have potential. However, it remains to be seen whether they can be relied upon this term.
Starters: Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton
Back-ups: Matty Longstaff, Joe Willock
Despite the money coming in, Newcastle United have only added one central midfielder to their squad since the takeover. That man is, of course, Bruno Guimaraes, who has become an instant hit at St James’ Park.
It helps that Sean Longstaff and Joelinton have upped their game since the arrival of Eddie Howe. The latter has reached a new level and been given a new lease of life since moving into midfield.
Guimaraes is set to miss the next three games following his red card in the Carabao Cup semi-final. This will be a real test of the Magpies’ depth. It will be interesting to see how they cope without him.
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