The summer transfer window has started to wind down while United have bolstered the squad with Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia. Fans are still ‘optimistic’ about the Frenkie de Jong which has been stalled due to the player’s reluctance in degrading from the Champions League to hearing the Europa anthem every Thursday (doesn’t matter that it sounds much better than the UCL one) but in order for Barca to register their new signings, Frenkie must leave unless he takes a considerable pay cut which he has certainly refused — the Catalans would be forcing him out of the club.
Here in this article, we take a look at players from around Europe whose contracts are running out next year and are available at a cut price this window or can be signed on a pre-contract in the winter transfer window. A few big names and a few Manchester United-esque names make the list:
The first player on our list is Inter Milan stalwart Milan Skriniar. A rock-solid defender and a reliable presence at the back, able to push opponents off the ball while a dominator in the air perfectly suits what Manchester United needs right now. Standing 1.88 metres tall (a little small than our capi!), the Slovakian skipper is ‘hot-property’ currently in Europe while clubs are swarming for him before Inter is able to change their star player’s mind.
During the 2021/22 season, Skriniar made 2.66 blocks, 4.54 successful air challengers and 4.57 pass interceptions per 90 minutes as Inter pushed AC Milan to the brink but fell short of defending the Serie A title. However, the defender was instrumental in holding the Inter defence together as the Nerazzuri cruised to the 2020/21 Scudetto.
United will have to pay around €45 million for the 27-year-old but it is unlikely that after the signing of Lisandro Martinez, Ten Hag would be pushing for another defender. But it would be a shrewd piece for anyone who can sign him on a free in the winter, of course, if he stays at Inter for the season.
The name of the Spanish midfielder has been circulating in the press for a few months as Ruiz looks to be reluctant in renewing his contract with Napoli. He finished top five in the one-touch pass completion chart, top ten in 1v1 index, pass value progression, conversion of shots outside the box as well as successful passes in the final thirds (One versus One). An instrumental presence in the Parthenopei midfield since his arrival from Real Betis in 2018, the 26-year-old has scored 18 goals and 14 assists in 125 Serie A appearances.
During the course of last season, the Spaniard scored the most goals (6) from outside the box in Serie A while completing 74 passes on average every game, the best ratio among the players with at least 20 apps — per OPTA.
A dictator of gameplay with his incisive passes, ability to regain possession and tracking down opponents, Fabian Ruiz is a versatile midfielder and was mostly used in a defensive position by Napoli manager Luciano Spaletti during the 2021/22 season.
Signing him on a free would be a shrewd piece of business in the market while United has already been rumoured to be linked with him since last winter.
Currently an occasional feature under manager Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos is a proven Premier League player from his time with the Gunners.
Being a creative and technical player is what the Spaniard does week in and out. He doesn't get included in the final thirds of the pitch but possesses some serious ball-winning capabilities while advancing the ball effectively further up the pitch.
Under managers Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta Arsenal, Ceballos was transformed from a defensive-minded midfielder to a more 'pressing 10' — a role where he would indulge in more attacking emphasis with his indomitable work rate. The PL-proven midfielder would immediately fit and start for this Manchester United team where he can be inducted as a central creative midfielder which is more suited to the role that he has developed at Real Madrid or a pressing attacking midfielder, but surely his work rate will be second to none in this United squad.
Often dubbed the ‘Prince of Madrid’, the stellar Asensio will be coming to an end of his stint with Real Madrid after 9 years at the club. The Spaniard possesses intensive attacking instincts, ability to operate in tight areas and pass swiftly in the final thirds. When he signed for Real Madrid in 2014, he was to be the next biggest thing to come out of Spanish Football and the road to reach that quest was on course with exemplary displays against teams like Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, etc but an ACL tear in the pre-season of 2019 against Arsenal changed the way things would pan out.
In spite of being a year out, the 26-year-old quickly resumed his usual course with Real Madrid under manager Zinedine Zidane and now Carlo Ancelotti. In recent times, he has often been used as a ‘super-sub’ and a right winger than his pre-dominant midfield duties. Asensio scored 10 goals in 31 La Liga appearances last season while always being a team player helping in link-up gameplay, pressing and tracking back opponents.
Anyone associated with Madrid can, without doubt, tell that the player has got a mentality of a superstar and wants to be one in the future making the most out of his career. He has got high ambitions and so does Manchester United, although clubs like AC Milan, Liverpool are keeping an eye on him, Erik Ten Hag if he plays his cards correctly and quickly can gain Asensio’s services for absolutely nothing in the winter!