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Adrien Rabiot: Why do Manchester United want to sign Juventus midfielder?

Manchester United have agreed a deal for Adrien Rabiot with Juventus, but need to agree personal terms; Rabiot has one-year left on his deal at Juventus; there is still hope at United they can sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona and signing both players has not been ruled out

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European Football expert Kevin Hatchard explains what Adrien Rabiot would bring to Manchester United if his proposed move to Old Trafford is completed

Manchester United have turned their attention to Adrien Rabiot to solve their midfield problems as talks for Frenkie de Jong continue to stall. Here, Sky Sports takes a look at why they have opted to move for the polarising Frenchman...

The move comes from left-field after a summer-long pursuit of Barcelona midfielder De Jong, and has been met with scepticism by supporters. It was only on Friday that United manager Erik ten Hag said it was important to sign "the right player" rather than buying just anyone when quizzed about the club's slow business this summer.

The France international has failed to make a substantial impact at Juventus since signing on a free transfer from PSG and drama seems to follow him wherever he goes. Never far behind is his mother and agent, Veronique.

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Gary Neville criticises Manchester United's recent transfer policy after Sky Italy reported the club had a bid rejected for former West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic.

Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Brighton was a wake-up call for Ten Hag, as it laid bare the necessity for reinforcements in midfield. Rabiot is now being lined up to remedy those problems.

A broad agreement for the transfer of Rabiot has been reached with Juventus, and United still believe there is a deal to be done for De Jong. The possibility of signing both has not been ruled out, with central midfield identified as a priority area for reinforcement this summer.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's win against Manchester United in the Premier League.

Who is Adrien Rabiot?

Adrien Rabiot challenges for the ball with Etienne Capoue

Rabiot established himself in Paris Saint-Germain's first team after coming through the academy and won five Ligue 1 titles in seven seasons. The midfielder made 227 appearances for PSG, scoring 24 goals.

He left in controversial circumstances in 2019 after being frozen out by the club for failing to agree a new contract. PSG felt they had been misled about his intentions, while his mother claimed he was leaving to "buy his freedom".

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Rabiot was highly sought after when it became clear he would be on the move, with Bayern Munich and Barcelona among those interested, before he eventually signed for Juventus.

Adrien Rabiot has also been linked with a move to Manchester United
Image: Adrien Rabiot left PSG in acrimonious circumstances

He has failed to set Serie A alight since arriving in Turin and, after four years, the Italian side are willing to let Rabiot go as he approaches the final year of his contract.

Rabiot was picked to be part of France's stand-by squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but removed himself as he refused to be a back-up and watched on as his team-mates lifted the trophy.

Didier Deschamps brought him back into the fold for Euro 2020, and Rabiot started three of the four matches they played before being knocked out by Switzerland on penalties in the last 16.

Adrien Rabot's 2021/22 stats with Juventus
Image: Adrien Rabot's 2021/22 stats with Juventus

"You look at some of the numbers he's produced and wonder if he's that impressive," European football expert Kevin Hatchard told Sky Sports News.

"But when you think of the coaches he's played under and the teams he's played for - regular for PSG, Juventus and he's played under Didier Deschamps with France - and you feel there must be something tangible there that coaches see."

Where would Rabiot fit in at Man Utd?

Ten Hag has tended to line up with two midfielders behind Bruno Fernandes since arriving at United. One in a deeper role, which is the position the former Ajax coach so desperately wants to fill with De Jong, and another operating slightly further up the pitch as a box-to-box midfielder.

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Fred was used in the deeper role against Brighton, while Scott McTominay pressed higher up the pitch. Their inability to progress the ball from deep made for frustrating viewing and gave Brighton plenty of encouragement to press.

Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane said United's midfielders lacked "decision-making" and "football intelligence" as he tore into McFred. "They are not good enough," Keane told Sky Sports. "They won't get Manchester United back competing at the top. We see it week in, week out. They're not up to it."

Rabiot has played both of these roles with Juventus, PSG and France, but struggled to nail down his best position. The 27-year-old has also spent time playing on the left of a narrow midfield four or as a wing-back.

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Image: Rabiot's stats for Juventus last season
Image: Rabiot's stats for PSG in the Champions League in 2017/18

Hatchard is unsure where Rabiot would fit into Ten Hag's system, but believes the midfielder is an improvement on the options United already have.

"Technically, he's probably better than someone like Fred or Scott McTominay," Hatchard told Sky Sports News. "Maybe he'll be able to progress the ball a bit better. He plays with intensity as is a bit of a character and somebody who can break up play.

"He can do a bit of everything and it'll be interesting to see how Erik ten Hag uses him. Does he want him in the role that McTominay played in against Brighton, pressing the play?"

What does Rabiot bring?

First and foremost, Rabiot's arrival would address the lack of deeper midfield options at Ten Hag's disposal in a summer which has seen Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic leave on free transfers.

His defensive stats show he would bring stability in transition. Opponents dribbled past Rabiot only 0.8 times per 90 minutes last season - fewer than any of United's other midfielders.

Rabiot's stats from last season show he also competes well in terms of tackling and his success-rate in duels.

But he fails to top any of the key passing metrics when compared to United's current options, which raises concerns about how much of an impact he could have on progressing the ball from deep.

"You look at it, and think, 'What's the plan here? What are they trying to achieve in the long-term," said Hatchard. "Rabiot is a good player and has qualities, but I'm not entirely convinced it's a sure-fire success.

"The intensity Adrien Rabiot plays with could rub off on other players [in a bad way].

"What we definitely know is that they need quality and bodies in midfield, as they don't have it at the moment.

"If this is looked at as an exchange of Paul Pogba going one way and Rabiot heading the other, I would say Juventus have got the better deal."

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Gary Neville and Roy Keane analyse the issues at Manchester United after their loss to Brighton at Old Trafford.

Why are Man Utd interested in Rabiot?

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Andy Brassell tells Sky Sports News what Adrien Rabiot could bring to the Manchester United team.

European football expert Andy Brassell told the Transfer Show:

"I think the ability of Adrien Rabiot is never in doubt. You're looking at a guy who has got an enormous amount of talent heading into his late 20s and we still don't know where he fits best on the pitch.

"The McFred thing is not working for them. They need to change the shape of the team a little bit, and I think it makes sense if they end up in more of a 4-3-3.

"With Erik ten Hag there, it makes sense. If Rabiot is on the left side of that, it could work. He's very athletic, he's a good passer of the ball, he can tackle.

"Of course, he was in the Manchester City academy so he knows English football and he knows what to expect from it.

"The fee is going to be the easy bit as Juventus are delighted to even get one. They just want him off the wage bill. For United, it's about giving him a raise on top of that. His mum drives a hard bargain so United will just have to be patient."

Is Rabiot the solution to Man Utd's midfield?

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Italian Football experts Mina Rzouki and Nicky Bandini explain to Transfer Talk why they are unconvinced by Manchester United’s pursuit of Juventus and France midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

Italian football expert Mina Rzouki on Sky Sports News:

"If Rabiot is being looked upon as the solution to Man Utd's midfield then I would be very surprised. I'm yet to really understand what it is that he excels at.

"I think he may be a complementary figure to what can be a very good midfield but I wouldn't put him in a midfield that is struggling to find its identity or working in a cohesive unit already.

"He's not dynamic, he's not particularly fast, his defensive markings can be a little bit off-key and he hasn't really excelled at Juventus, yet he is still the pick for Didier Deschamps at France. When it comes to Massimiliano Allegri, he's always been noted in the starting line-up.

"We know the coaches like him but I struggle to understand. I've rarely looked at him at Juventus and thought, 'Wow, what a great player!'"

'It's hard to identify what he does well consistently'

Italian football expert Nicky Bandini on Sky Sports News:

"It's not like Rabiot got to Juventus yesterday, he's been there several seasons now and it's still not clear how best to use him. It feels like Allegri has never worked out how best to use him despite repeatedly using him.

"At Juventus, he's been thrust into this role where he's sitting and being this player who spreads the play, maybe that's a better use for him because he's really quite inconsistent with his short passing. There was a horrible game against Venezia last season where he was trying to play a two-yard ball and sent it 15 yards. His control in the passing range is not a strength for me.

"I think there are some strengths in his game but they're very specific. He has a certain strength in physicality and dynamism on the ball, I don't think we've seen it much in the last few years but I think that's something that I would imagine. Maybe you can lean to him being a box-to-box midfielder, maybe he's a complementary figure to someone like Fred sitting in the middle of the Manchester United midfield because you can put him outside and ask him to make those runs.

"Overall it's really hard to identify what he does well consistently."

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