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22 Mar 2024 12:27:08
Hi Eds

Is there any truth we are after Joao Gomez? I do like what I've seen of him could be a shrewd cm signing for the right price?


{Ed002's Note - Joao Gomes (CM) An alternate to CG for Spurs and a cheap option to Joao Neves for Manchester United.}

Agree1 Disagree5

22 Mar 2024 22:10:02
Ed, do United still retain a strong interest in Joao Neves? Or is he ruled out due to the price tag? Also do you have any names for left back that the club may consider?

{Ed002's Note - Joao Neves (DM/CM) Discussed with Chelsea when meeting over another player as they were seeking a replacement for Loftus-Cheek. Potential Casemiro replacement for Manchester United and he will be first choice. Huge buy out clause and Benfica will not look to sell but recognise there will be growing interest. Seen as an option for Manchester City to replace Phillips. Versatile but falls over easily.

I have addressed the LB situation before.}

23 Mar 2024 12:39:43
Joao Neves is clearly a phenomenal talent. That said there are three reason's why I don't think he's the right signing for us this summer.

Firstly, his price. He will be close to or even north of 100m. Given how big a squad rebuild we have to do this summer I don't think we can justify signing anyone for that sort of fee. I also don't see spending huge fees on unproven players as something INEOS will be looking to do. I expect if they spend big it'll be on a player with EPL experience.

Secondly, I really don't see any top side as being likely to regularly line up with an 18 year old and a 19 year old at the heart of the midfield. Simply it's too much inexperience in the most vital area of the pitch. While the idea of Mainoo and Neves might to some sound like midfield is sorted for the next decade or more. The reality is that very few managers if any would regularly play two such inexperienced players together. Which makes me worry that if we signed Neves then he'd be competing with Mainoo to start each week rather than play along side him.

Finally, I'm not actually convinced that Mainoo and Neves would be as well balanced a midfield as you'd expect. At least not yet. Both players have a similar profile, complete, technical midfielders who can progress the ball through midfield and are also probably slightly better a little deeper rather than higher in midfield. Maybe Mainoo will develop into being slightly more box to box and maybe Neves will develop into being a deeper playmaker, but currently neither regularly play those roles.

Spending 100m and potentially blocking the pathway for our most promising youngster does not sound like great business, especially as the player we would be signing hasn't consistently played the role we would be signing him for.

Don't get me wrong, in my opinion Joao Neves will be a world class player. But I also think Mainoo will be. I also think that currently they are both best suited to playing the same role (box to box/ roaming playmaker) . I'd rather back the lad we have and sign someone who would act as a foil and get the best out of Mainoo.

The player I'd actually sign is Joao Neves's Benfica team mate Florentino Luis. He was the defensive foil that enabled Enzo Fernandez to look like one of the best midfielders in the world. We are seeing how Enzo has struggled to replicate that form at Chelsea despite having the excellent Moises Caicedo along side him. The issue with that Chelsea midfield for me is that Enzo and Caicedo are similar players. Both combative, and progressive midfielders. Neither are players who are happy to sit and shield the defence and act as the foil for their teammate. This is the same issue as England had with Lampard and Gerrard.
Since Enzo left benfica his place has been taken by the excellent Joao Neves. However, Neves is also benefitting from the quietly fantastic Florentino Luis. While Neves gets the credit for his all action displays, being able to be everywhere on the pitch, find the spaces to create chances for teammates and able to get into tackles and win the ball back. He is only able to play that way because of Florentino who is intelligently sitting and shielding the defence, knowing when to step up and when to drop off. Reading the game and filling in the gaps deeper in midfield that gives Neves the licence to roam and show off his well rounded skillset. Just as he did for Enzo before Neves.

Florentino reads the game well, knows how to move to fill in gaps and shield the defence, has great technique, is press resistant, great in the tackle, but also able to take the ball off the defence, turn and play an intelligent and accurate pass forward to progress the play. He very much reminds me of Carrick, although Florentino doesn't hit those long switches of play quite as often (this might be a tactical thing as he is quite able to do so), while he's a bit stronger in the tackle, slightly more aggressive than Carrick was. He turns 25 at the start of next season and is hitting his prime, he has the experience to guide a young Mainoo through games, much like he is helping a young Neves right now.

Unfortunately he won't be cheap, but I'd expect Benfica might be a little more open to selling him rather than Neves, as such he would be cheaper than his midfield teammate. I also think he'd be the perfect player to unlock Mainoo while also giving our defence the protection it needs.

No idea if the club is interested in him, but for me he is the best and obvious choice to bring our midfield into the modern era and would be able to form a great and in my opinion title winning midfield with Mainoo for the next 5-6 years.

23 Mar 2024 12:19:13
Ok thanks Ed, I’ve found a post where you say right back is more of a priority and that it could be the case we sign someone who can cover both sides.

{Ed002's Note - The club are scouting many defenders still.}

23 Mar 2024 14:16:50
Surprised the name Mats Wieffer hasn't come into the mix for a few reasons.

23 Mar 2024 15:30:00
SHAPPY, IT worked for Scholes and keane, both good at 6 and 8,

23 Mar 2024 15:12:30
Thank you for the detailed info Ed002,- really appreciated and new positive info about United’s targets always brightens the day.

Woukd you be good enough to indicate if United would be looking at Neves primarily as a DM rather than a CM - or the other way round? If as a CM, do you think United will be looking at a DM as well, such as Leverkusen’s Palacios, Everton’s Onana or even Wolves’s Gomes?

Or might United even want 2 x DM/ CM combined players to give flexibility?

Thanks for any info you can reveal.

{Ed002's Note - They will be looking at him as a versatile addition. Manchester United know that Palacios is not for sale, Onana is down the list for them and Gomes would be a cheap alternative to Joao Neves for Manchester United.}

23 Mar 2024 15:42:33
Thank you very much for the swift reply Ed002!

23 Mar 2024 16:01:31
MancMan, firstly that was a very different time. Mid-table sides in the EPL didn't have the kind of quality players that they do now. We are talking about it working 25 years ago now. Back then you could play with two strikers and two wingers and not leave your midfield exposed. You just can't do that now. Very few teams play with a strike duo, and those that do don't play with wingers.

Secondly, at that time I wouldn't have called Scholes a well rounded midfielder, defensively off the ball he wasn't great. It worked because Keane sacrificed parts of his game (going forward and being a scoring threat) to facilitate Scholes. Keane rightly accepted Scholes was a bigger threat in the final third, which meant it was better for the team that he stay deeper and allow Scholes more freedom. That was one of the great things about Keane, he was willing to sacrifice his personal glory for the team. He'd rather the team win 5-0 and he didn't score than draw 3-3 and he scored a couple of goals.

For Mainoo and Neves to work one of them would probably have to make that same sacrifice, be prepared to limit part of their game to be the foil for the other one to make the most of their talents.

I'm not sure I'd want to take a 100m gamble on a modern day footballer to be willing to sacrifice personal glory for the team.

23 Mar 2024 16:50:55
Shappy, my point about Scholes and Keane plus Butt as well was that they had similar skills, good positional sense, technically sound and good passing plus they worked as a partnership. At times Keane might have sacrificed some of his attacking game but he popped up on the edge of the opposition box often enough.

I'm not saying you are wrong in your analysis but two similar box to box players can work well together if they are intelligent and skillful footballers.

23 Mar 2024 19:34:23
MancMan, how many other examples can you name? Its very rare in football to have two players primarily doing the same job within a team. You tend to have a role and a part to play, you stick to that and do it well then the team will play well.

The problem with having two similar box o box type midfielders is in order for them to make the right decision they need to know what the other is doing at that moment.

You can't break forward if your midfield partner has already started to break forward, likewise do you drop deep or track a runner? Will you get in the way of your midfield teammate.

In order to make this type of system work you need two very intelligent, quick thinking players who can form a near telepathic understanding of each other. Even then mistakes will happen and the team can become overexposed.

23 Mar 2024 16:19:48
Thank you for all the answers about midfield today Ed092!

One last cheeky request for info though if you’re able to:

Any interest from United in Sporting’s Morten Hjulmand?

{Ed002's Note - Morten Hjulmand (DM/CM) Arrived from Lecce in the summer of 2023 - not available unless an offer that meets his huge release clause is made - and even then the player may not be interested in a move so soon after joinung. Arsenal are looking at Elneny and Jorginho leaving as Free Agents in the summer and have sent scouts. He is also seen as an option for Manchester United but currently not first choice. Spurs interest has gone. Barcelona may propose some horse trading.}

23 Mar 2024 22:59:47
Thank you so much for all the detailed info today Ed002 - very much appreciated, thank you.

{Ed002's Note - You are welcome.}



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