With the arrival of veteran forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford, Manchester United have signed strikers from Ligue 1 clubs in three summer transfer windows on the spin, but new boss Jose Mourinho’s attention has reportedly turned to events further back on the pitch.
According to The Mirror, Ibrahimovic’s former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Blaise Matuidi has temporarily left France’s Euro 2016 camp to seal a move to the stumbling Premier League giants, after Poland defensive-midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak’s recent arrival in the French capital.
Based on the Red Devils’ forays into the French transfer market since the dawn of Sky Sports in 1992, the fact that Matuidi is fundamentally a defence-minded player, with rumours the 29-year-old could be thrown in at centre-half for France if needed, seems positive.
United’s hit-rate with Ligue 1 forwards is not great – Anthony Martial may be starting to look cheap at £36m, but Radamel Falcao and Gabriel Obertan, the previous two Ligue 1 men picked up by the club, were both out-and-out failures.
Conversely, defensive pair Gabriel Heinze and Patrice Evra, landed in 2004 and 2006 from PSG and Monaco, proved huge successes, with one eventually supplanting the other at left-back.
Prior to those signings, Sir Alex Ferguson’s only other permanent Ligue 1 signings in the Premier League era were midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba and Fabien Barthez, the first an undeniable flop, the second average at best.
United’s midfield is still desperately short of legs, with Bastian Schweinsteiger’s fitness questionable, Morgan Schneiderlin unproven at the top level and 34-year-old Michael Carrick handed a new deal apparently for his experience.
Matuidi has racked up 165 Ligue 1 appearances since signing for Les Parisiens from Saint Etienne in 2011, bagging 49 France caps and weighing in with a not-too-shabby tally of eight goals.
Mourinho’s men are currently 4/1 second favourites with bwin.com to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2012/13, behind the Portuguese’s old ‘Clasico’ enemy Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, the 2/1 favourites.