We are getting closer to Christmas, so perhaps it’s time to analyse a few “presents” Manchester United might receive during the upcoming transfer window. And everybody knows the team – or rather, Jose Mourinho – wants a new playmaker. Someone who can slot right into the number 10 role naturally. As well, United have an excess of wing-backs, and it seems the Portuguese tactician wouldn’t mind to exchange one of them to acquire a player he really wants. One that – he feels – will improve the team in the short- and long-term picture.
Based on several reports, Manchester United are growing more and more interested in signing Joao Mario from Inter Milan. The Portugal international lost his starting place at the Serie A side, and would be eager to leave the club in order to increase his playing time before the 2018 World Cup. Manchester United would welcome him with open arms, as Mourinho reportedly loves his countryman, and would be keen to bring him on to Old Trafford.
What could Joao Mario add to Manchester United?
Joao Mario would add some much-needed vision and skill to United’s midfield. He spent last season as Inter Milan’s main playmaker, and had a successful year. He registered three goals and five assists in 30 Serie A matches. Things have not worked out this year, though. Mario has 11 appearances this season with five assists, but he hasn’t cracked the starting XI on a regular basis.
And since he is only 24, he has enough time to continue his growth. He is not a finished product by any means, but a player that must play regularly to reach his ceiling. And United are apparently willing to offer him the chance to do just that. The presence of both Matias Vecino and Borja Valero made Mario expendable, as Inter currently sit at the top of the Serie A standings and do not seem likely to tweak their squad any minute now.
Joao Mario won’t come for cheap, though. His Transfermarkt value lies around the €30M mark, and United need to at least come close to that figure if they want to bring the former Sporting Lisbon star to England. But there is another avenue that teams have explored, and that would be a swap between two players. In that scenario, United would probably send Matteo Darmian to Inter in exchange for Mario’s services.
Would a Joao Mario/Darmian swap work?
The idea does have a lot of sense for all parties involved, though. United have Antonio Valencia as the starting right-back, and Ashley Young has been playing on the opposite flank. Phil Jones and Daley Blind can operate as back-ups at right-back, and Marcos Rojo can also play as left-back. In short – Darmian quickly became expendable, and Inter could use a player like him. After all, both Dalbert and Joao Cancelo have struggled to settle in the Serie A. And Darmian would certainly represent an upgrade over Yuto Nagatomo as well. armian at least would add some much-needed depth defensively, since he can play at both full-back roles.
The rumour is out there, and certainly both teams would benefit off it. But it remains to be seen whether either club pulls the trigger in this deal. At the very least, it seems a potential swap between Darmian and Joao Mario would benefit both clubs. But we will have to wait until January to see it happen… if it ever does.