Premier League

Ligue 1 Stars Manchester United Should Target In January

 • by Andrew Gibney
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Manchester United are one of the more improved teams in the Premier League this season.

They may trail rivals Manchester City by some distance but, after finishing sixth last term, the fact they are as high as second and looking a shoo-in for Champions League qualification speaks to their development.

The signings of Nemanja Matić and Romelu Lukaku have slotted in well, helping get more out of the players he already had at his disposal.

Mourinho’s job is not done yet, though, and he may look to strengthen again in January, especially with the Champions League challenge and domestic cup competitions to come.

Here are four players from Ligue 1 who could all come into the United team and contribute not just now, but in the future.

Thomas Meunier – Paris Saint-Germain

Linked with a move to Old Trafford over the summer, Thomas Meunier, a self-confessed Manchester United fan, has remained as Paris Saint-Germain’s second choice right-back despite Serge Aurier leaving for Tottenham Hotspur. That is due to the free signing of Dani Alves.

The 26-year-old Belgian has already admitted at being frustrated about his lack of minutes in the games that count – he has yet to play in the Champions League – but that doesn’t always translate into a move.

However, if Mourinho is keen, and he wants to add another option at right-back to cover for the 32-year-old Antonio Valencia, with the prospect of taking over, Meunier is perfect.

A keen attacker, he loves getting into the final third and as he has shown for his country, contributing to ten goals in their last four games.

What he does better than most defenders is make sure he works hard to get back into position. He’s tough, he’s a battler and he would fit perfectly into the ethos of the Portuguese boss.

Jean Michaël Seri – OGC Nice

As close as he came to joining Barcelona this summer, Jean Michaël Seri remains a Nice player.

Still on the market, the Ivorian said at the end of the window that he would remain at the Ligue 1 club until next summer, yet, a January move for the 26-year-old could still be on the cards if the right club came in.

Injuries to Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini have stretched the United midfield already this season. Someone like Seri, who can play in most positions, could be the perfect addition.

He’s a defensive midfielder who works hard and is as comfortable on the ball as the best passers in Europe.

Seri works hard to close down the opposition, but has a wonderful eye to pick key passes over the top.

He picked up seven goals and nine assists last term, Nice have struggled this season, so Seri has just one and one in five appearances.

Contracted until 2019, there is definitely a deal to be done this winter, and Seri would help strengthen Mourinho’s attack and defence on multiple fronts this season.

Rönael Pierre Gabriel – Saint-Etienne

Rönael Pierre Gabriel, 19, is a very promising young defender and is enjoying a breakout campaign at Saint-Etienne.

This season Les Verts have switched from a three to a back four, and the teenage defender has taken everything in his stride.

He was thought to be a natural on his right-side, but has played either at left-back or the left of a central three this term.

He’s shown that he is more comfortable on his right foot, but has attempted crosses with his left.

In Manchester United’s team, Gabriel would be a great young option to play at left-back, but could move centrally if needed. It would take him time to develop further, but all the raw attributes are there to see him transform into an excellent Premier League defender.

The France Under-21 international has a contract until 2021, so it may take a decent bid to prize him away from Les Verts, but he has the potential that would make it a worthwhile move.

Julian Draxler – Paris Saint-Germain

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The German only signed for PSG back in January 2017, but already his place at the club is under threat.

Julian Draxler did extremely well during the Champions League last term, playing a huge part as the Parisians beat Barcelona at home. With five goals and one assist in 14 starts, he had done well to settle so quickly, but now his minutes on the pitch are quickly disappearing.

Neymar has taken his place on the left of the attack and only when Unai Emery goes 4-2-3-1 does he get the nod.

Linked with being an Arsenal transfer target during the summer, the 24-year-old would be a youthful, more attack-minded option than Juan Mata in the United front-line.

Right-footed, so he would be able to play on that side, or on the left as he loves dropping inside off the flank. He can also operate as a No.10 and even a false nine.

Draxler has it all: guile, pace, drive and the creative eye to pick a pass or shoot from distance.

Blessed with multiple options in attack, PSG could be convinced to sell one of two players this winter and the German is arguably the best of the substitutes they could allow to leave.

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