Manchester United could sign their ideal heir to Paul Pogba after being continuously linked with a move for AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.
What’s the story?
Reports by Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this month (as relayed by Daily Mail), claim the Red Devils have identified the 24-year-old as a possible replacement for Pogba should he decide to depart over the coming months.
The France international has entered the final year of his contract at United and is yet to commit his future to the club, meaning possible replacements are being identified by the Old Trafford hierarchy.
Kessie is in a similar situation to the World Cup winner as his current deal at San Siro is set to expire in under 12 months time, meaning he’s free to negotiate with non-Italian clubs from January.
Previous reports have claimed that the Ivorian wants an €8m (£6.8m) yearly salary – around £132,000-a-week – but Milan are only offering €6.5m (£5.5m), meaning an imminent exit could be on the cards.
Could Kessie replace Pogba?
Solskjaer would love him
Although Kessie is often deployed as a defensive midfielder and is extremely capable in the position, he is arguably better suited to a more advanced box-to-box role.
The more attack-minded position frees up the £74,000-per-week gem and allows him to maximise his key attributes, while the holding role restricts the influence he can have over proceedings.
And when comparing Kessie’s and Pogba’s underlying numbers for last season, it’s clear there are some striking similarities between the pairs.
As per fbref.com, the Milan maestro recorded 4.4 non-penalty Expected Goals and managed 2.14 Shot-creating actions per 90 compared to Pogba’s tallies of 2.8 and 3.37, respectively.
But the resemblances don’t stop there. While Kessie pulled off a remarkable 76.7% of his dribbles, won 1.23 tackles per 90 and made an average of 5.06 passes into the final third of the pitch, United’s star man put up totals of 61.4%, 1.08 and 5.3.
It’s not just the stats that back up Kessie’s ability to play further up the pitch, though. Former Italy striker Antonio Cassano even compared him to a previous Premier League box-to-box great.
“I want Kessie in my team, he scores, he assists, he has personality, he has quality, he doesn’t lose the ball, he is intelligent. I’m watching him carefully, against Roma, he was devastating,” he said (via MilanLive).
“He reminds me of the Yaya Touré of the best times. He is a different player, but in terms of impact, he is holding Milan’s midfield alone.”
Therefore, United could secure Pogba’s natural successor by snapping Kessie up over the winter window or next summer, providing Solskjaer with a player he would surely love the opportunity to work with.
And, in other news…Rob Dawson reveals worrying Man Utd transfer update, Ole may be concerned