Predicting five future Man Utd flops signed after Euro 2024 performances

Will Ford
Trubin, Mikautadze, Ndoye. Man Utd.
Anatoliy Trubin, Georges Mikautadze and Dan Ndoye could be on the Man Utd radar this summer.

Manchester United have a rich and largely unsuccessful history of post-major tournament signings. Sofyan Amrabat was the last player to dupe them through his performances in Qatar and we’ve had a go at predicting five players Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos team may look to sign this summer who will turn out not to be as good as they’ve appeared at Euro 2024.

We’ve gone for lesser known players, you (because that is certainly the case for us) probably will have known little about before the group stages in Germany, after which their stock has risen significantly, we believe to deceptive heights.

To be clear, before you start shouting, we may well be wrong. We’re guessing. It’s a bit of fun.  Here are United’s past transfer missteps following major tournaments if you fancy reading that first.

 

Georges Mikautadze (Georgia)
Let’s get it straight, along with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and the Georgia team as a whole, Mikautadze has been an absolute delight. Leading the goalscoring charts, he’s been just about the only centre-forward in the entire tournament who’s been any good, and he’s been really very good. He calmly slotted his first goal against Turkey, has dispatched his two penalties with supreme confidence and provided a perfectly weighted assist for Kvaratskhelia’s opener against Portugal.

He’s got a very good record for Georgia in general, scoring 11 goals in his last 15 games in an environment the majority of the players – whether they’re stars linked with £100m moves to European giants or journeymen playing in lesser European leagues – appear to excel in, thanks in large part no doubt to the fervent support and unbridled joy of the fans who can’t believe their eyes.

Mikautadze is somewhere in the middle between a PSG-linked superstar and someone moonlighting to pay the bills. He’s the third most highly valued asset in the squad behind Kvaratskhelia and the standout goalkeeper of the tournament, Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili.

The 23-year-old scored a bundle for Metz in Ligue 2 to help them win promotion and persuade Ajax to spend £14m on him in the summer of 2023. They barely played him before he went back to Metz last season and scored 13 goals in the French top flight.

United are still after competition for Rasmus Hojlund – who has thus far barely registered as being at Euro 2024 – but are hampered in their bid to sign an experienced stooge by Ratcliffe’s five transfer rules. Mikautadze appears to be something of a wise head on young shoulders.

 

Dan Ndoye (Switzerland)
It was a fine finish against Germany. There’s no little skill involved in opening up your foot and cushioning the ball into the roof of the net as Ndoye did. And he and Breel Embolo put the willies up the hosts for an hour in their final group game, pressing them high and forcing mistakes, before helping outclass Italy to reach the quarters.

We absolutely understand why recruiters from a top club watching that game would be very attracted to a player combining good movement, confident finishing and high energy in the final third. Ndoye is also just 23 and won’t be beyond the means of a fair few Premier League clubs with a release clause of £34m.

All of that considered, it speaks to the incredible dearth of reasonably priced forwards that Manchester United are ‘collecting information’ and considering a bid for a player who got one goal and two assists in 32 Serie A games for Bologna last term and has averaged a goal contribution every 300 minutes in his senior career.

And while it’s true that Ratcliffe ‘knows the player’ having signed him for Nice, Ndoye did also play just 530 minutes of league football in his two-and-a-half seasons on the Ligue 1 side’s books, and Ineos decided to sell him to Basel for just €2m, half his market value at the time.

MORE EURO 2024 COVERAGE ON F365
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👉 Rice and Trippier spark England ‘fears’ and Southgate decides against hilarious Gordon ‘ban’
👉 Euro 2024 Power Rankings: Austria top-ranked side in bottom half of lopsided knockout draw

 

Jaka Bijol (Slovenia)
Fifty-three caps for your country at 25 is good going and for a guy with his heart set on a move to the Premier League, keeping Harry Kane firmly under wraps against England at a European Championship plays very well indeed.

His performances for Udinese have caught the eye of bigger Serie A clubs in the last couple of seasons but that’s gone a bit quieter of late, perhaps owing to a combination of his injury issues and his side only just avoiding relegation.

Bijol made nine clearances in that game against the Three Lions and no player has made more than his 28 in the whole tournament. Sounds like Sean Dyche might quite like him at Everton, particularly given Ben Godfrey looks as though he’s somehow got himself a move to Atalanta.

But Bijol also played a significant number of games in midfield for CSKA Moscow before his move to Serie A, suggesting he’s comfortable in possession, a quality Erik ten Hag values highly in his defender. It would provide United the option of playing him as a defensive shield for a back four, which they’re in dire need of next season.

 

Anatoliy Trubin (Ukraine)
A launch percentage of just 18.2 per cent will be very attractive to the bring-on-the-press-and-pass-from-the-back obsessives in the Premier League, and we’ve got to assume that’s the plan for United under Jason Wilcox… sorry, Ten Hag. Only Diogo Costa (16.7), Manuel Neuer (12.3) and David Raya (11.1) have lower percentages and that’s fine company if that’s your bag.

The fact that Trubin plays for Benfica makes him attractive as the big Premier League sides are infatuated with paying large sums of money for their players, and not without reason given the Portuguese side’s ability to recruit and develop young talent is currently unparalleled in Europe. But it also means whoever comes calling will likely have to pay a ludicrous sum to steal him away. Reports have suggested he’s got a €100m release clause in his contract.

The problem with these midfielders-cum-goalkeepers, as a few have found out to their cost in the Premier League of late, is that focus on their touch and distribution often leads to weaknesses in other areas. Trubin failed to cut out any of the 24 crosses into his box at Euro 2024 and he’s stopped just 13 of 298 while in goal for Benfica.

“Manchester United? I’m not going to talk about it, it’ll be a secret, let’s keep it a mystery,” Trubin’s agent said in February when asked about reports linking his client with a move. Surely not a priority for Ratcliffe and the Ineos lads as Andre Onana turned out not to be half as bad as the media made out in the first couple of months at Old Trafford, and throwing another Premier League rookie into goal given the barrage of shots he’s likely to face will probably lead to another significant bedding-in period that those without such strength of character – possibly Trubin – may not recover from.

 

Nicolas Seiwald (Austria)
Seiwald has made the most tackles of any player at Euro 2024 so far, and without committing a single foul. The only player on record (since 1980) to make more tackles without conceding a foul in a European Championship group stage is Philipp Lahm in 2008 (14).

The 23-year-old – who made the classic move from RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig last summer for £17m – was just one of three Austria players to start all three group games, along with Marcel Sabitzer and Stefan Posch, as Ralf Rangnick’s decision to rotate paid off to see them finish top of Group D and into the easy half of the draw at France’s expense.

Despite N’Golo Kante’s extraordinary return for Les Bleus in their Euro 2024 opener against Austria, Seiwald won eight of his nine duels in midfield in that game, made four tackles and had a pass accuracy of 92 per cent. It was a brilliant display and much like Amrabat’s all-action performances in Qatar, may well persuade Manchester United to part with £30m-odd to plug a midfield hole set to deepen through the exit of Casemiro and the return of Amrabat to Fiorentina.