Michael Carrick: It is the right time for me to leave Manchester United
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Manchester United have had a long-term issue of needing a top-quality midfielder. The partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay are not of the standard required to win trophies at Old Trafford, but interim manager Ralf Rangnick could have been gifted the perfect opportunity to solve that issue thanks to the restlessness of Anthony Martial.
The Red Devils endured a torrid start to the season, with summer acquisitions Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho unable to prevent club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from being sacked.
But the appointment of Rangnick has breathed a new sense of belief into Old Trafford.
However, the fallout of the arrival of the German boss is that it has given former wonderkid Martial the nudge he required to push for a move and it has been reported that the forward is unhappy with having to succumb to a spot on the bench so regularly.
Eurosport has reported that Atletico Madrid are preparing to offer United a swap deal in order to secure the signature of the Frenchman, which has given Rangnick the opportunity to kick off his business at the club in the right way.
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Over the summer, Atletico’s Marcos Llorente was linked with a move to the Theatre of Dreams but a deal never materialised, though that interest could quickly be reignited.
Considering Atletico are largely strapped for cash due to the pandemic, an offer of a transfer target plus a fee could simply be too good to pass up on.
Martial has started just two league games so far this season and is near the bottom of the pecking order at United so his departure would hardly be felt, though the arrival of Llorente would be a huge boost to the team.
The Spain international has impressed over the past few campaigns with his ability to retrieve possession quickly and fuel attacks from deep, and his 12 goals and 11 assists last season show how much of a presence he can be in the final third if given the licence to roam.
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According to transfermarkt, Llorente is worth £72million, however, Atletico could be willing to accept an offer of Martial (valued at £31.5m) plus £40m in order to part ways with the 26-year-old.
With Donny van de Beek potentially destined for a move in January due to lack of game time and Paul Pogba showing no indication as to whether he will stay or go at the end of the season, Rangnick must take this opportunity with both hands.
Although both can have standout performances, neither Fred nor McTominay have given any indication that they are capable of protecting the United defence to such a level that winning silverware is a viable target.
Rangnick has taken a no-nonsense approach in his short spell in the United dugout so far, refusing to plead Pogba to stay most recently, and signing a potential direct replacement could prove another dent into the soon-to-be out of contract star’s reputation.
Another factor that could push Rangnick into heading into negotiations with all guns blazing is that his potential successor, Mauricio Pochettino, has been an admirer of Llorente previously.
The Argentine boss, currently of Paris Saint-Germain, was linked with being a direct replacement for Solskjaer previously but instead the higher powers opted to wait until the summer in order to find their long-term boss.
And during his time at Tottenham Hotspur, AS reported that the club were interested in signing Llorente from Real Madrid after the midfielder fell out of favour at the Santiago Bernabeu, and Daniel Levy will certainly be ruing the fact he missed out on such a coup.
If United aren’t willing to stand in the way of Martial and the exit then bringing in a long-term target that could solve two of their issues – and even three considering the Spaniard can play in right-back – seems an obvious yet smart piece of business by the Red Devils if Rangnick can pull it off.
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