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    Man Utd could land Rice clone in swoop for £42m Mainoo partner

    It’s fair to say that among the disappointments of the 2023/24 campaign, there were a handful of shining lights that pointed towards a positive future at Manchester United.

    One of those was most definitely Kobbie Mainoo, who excelled at the heart of the midfield under Erik ten Hag from the very second he stepped foot on the field against Everton in November.

    At just 19 years of age, he has the maturity and quality to perform at the highest level against the very best, as shown by his FA Cup-winning goal against Manchester City.

    With the brilliant Mainoo in mind, let’s take a look at a Red Devils target who could prove to be United’s very own Declan Rice.

    NFL Betting

    Man Utd’s recent transfer activity

    Jarrad Branthwaite has been the most heavily linked player to Old Trafford so far this summer, but his move could prove difficult given Everton’s extreme demands.

    At the other end of the field, Joshua Zirkzee is a name that’s been mentioned in reports, as United could look to activate his £33.7m release clause.

    Manchester United transfer target Joshua Zirkzee in action in Serie A.

    However, it’s in the middle of the park where United are looking to reinforce, with Edson Alvarez and now Conor Gallagher listed as targets.

    According to reports from Spain, Man United have entered the race to sign the Chelsea midfielder this summer alongside Arsenal and Atletico Madrid.

    gallagher-palmer-chelsea

    It’s said that the Blues would be willing to sell the England international for £42m, as they look to raise funds for the player viewed as replaceable.

    Gallagher could be Man Utd’s own Rice

    Under the influence of Mauricio Pochettino, Gallagher became such a vital cog in the Chelsea system, regardless of what position he was deployed in.

    Just like all the best leaders in the Premier League, the academy graduate led by example in every single match, displaying determination and the desperation to succeed.

    Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher

    Throughout the campaign, the versatile midfielder started 37 Premier League games, which would have been 38 had he not received a red card against Brighton & Hove Albion.

    The former Crystal Palace loanee also proved that he can become a match-winner, becoming influential in the final third with five goals and seven assists.

    Gallagher vs Rice vs Mainoo 23/24 PL Stats

    Stats (per 90)

    Gallagher

    Rice

    Mainoo

    Touches

    70.29

    73.95

    51.17

    Passes completed

    51.82

    56.96

    34.99

    Progressive passes

    4.95

    7.76

    2.99

    Progressive carries

    1.78

    2.09

    1.17

    Tackles

    2.45

    2.32

    2.20

    Interceptions

    1.24

    1.23

    1.03

    Balls recovered

    6.36

    4.97

    4.49

    Via FBref

    It’s fair to say that Gallagher has absolutely everything you’d look for in a modern-day midfielder, and the same can be said for Rice.

    As you can see from the table, it’s no surprise that Rice and Gallagher have been classified as ‘similar players’ by FBref.

    England midfielder Declan Rice

    Firstly, the duo are both technically gifted and have the ability to work in tight spaces, control a game, and help the side during the build-up phase, as shown by their touches, passes completed, and progressive passes.

    This would make Gallagher an ideal partner for Mainoo, as between them, they’d be able to dictate the tempo of the game as well as adopt the playing out from the back approach.

    Kobbie-Mainoo-Man-Utd

    On the other hand, Gallagher is known for being an absolute “machine” when it comes to off-the-ball actions and intensity, as dubbed by teammate Moises Caicedo.

    Just like Rice, the 24-year-old is full of energy, and he can cover ground with ease due to his athleticism, which would be a welcomed addition from Mainoo’s perspective, especially as he was partnered by Casemiro last season, who “cannot run,” as per football creator Liam Canning.

    Together, Mainoo and Gallagher would be an absolute nightmare to play against due to the intensity, technical quality, and defensive security they’d bring to the team, which United simply didn’t have enough of last season.

    Overall, signing Gallagher could prove to be a masterclass by Man United, especially given that he’s a Rice clone and he’d thrive next to Mainoo, which is why ten Hag must swoop for him before the window slams shut in August.

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