Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Ralf Rangnick is a coach who demands that every single one of his players fully buy into his football philosophy. You’re either on board with his hard-running, hard-pressed style, or you’re history.

So when the German arrives at Old Trafford to serve as Manchester United’s interim manager, it has not been long before stories emerge linking the club to Amadou Haidara.

Haidara is largely Rangnick’s husband, having played for both Red Bull Salzburg and then their German sister club RB Leipzig.

The future Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick (left) can switch to midfielder Amadou Haidara (right) in January, a player he knows well from RB Leipzig

The future Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick (left) can switch to midfielder Amadou Haidara (right) in January, a player he knows well from RB Leipzig

Mali international Haidara, 23, is believed to have a £ 33m release clause in his Leipzig deal

Mali international Haidara, 23, is believed to have a £ 33m release clause in his Leipzig deal

The 23-year-old midfielder understands what Rangnick demands of his players, and his abilities fit well with the style of football we are currently seeing at United.

Haidara, who is believed to have a £ 33m release clause, will be monitored by United scouts in two upcoming Leipzig matches – against Union Berlin in the Bundesliga on Friday and Manchester City in the Champions League next week.

If they like what they see, Haidara could head to Manchester in January and offer a potential solution to the ongoing problem United have in midfield, while Rangnick rebuilds them.

Here’s all you need to know about the player nicknamed Doudou.

What type of player does United need and can Haidara tick the boxes?

Rangnick knows exactly what he wants from his teams and is not known as the ‘Godfather of Genepressing’ for nothing.

There will be a shake-up at United when he finally gets on the training ground, with players having to run longer and work harder when it comes to bothering opponents and winning the ball back.

It was clear in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea, overseen by caretaker manager Michael Carrick, that United’s pressured match was already more intense than it had been under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Midfield trio Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic all put in a shift and the pressure on Jorginho by Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford forced a foul that led to United’s goal.

Haidara tackles Nuno Mendes from PSG during a recent Champions League meeting

Haidara tackles Nuno Mendes from PSG during a recent Champions League meeting

Rangnick does not have much time when it comes to transforming United’s fortunes, so it would be helpful to bring in a player like Haidara who already understands exactly what he wants.

The Malier feels he is the best when he plays No. 6 or No. 8, which is where United need him. He will be deployed deep in midfield alongside either Fred or McTominay.

Julian Nagelsmann liked to move Haidara around midfield during his last season as Leipzig coach in 2020-21 and placed him right and left in certain matches.

Haidara (right) celebrates a goal with Christopher Nkunku against Borussia Dortmund

Haidara (right) celebrates a goal with Christopher Nkunku against Borussia Dortmund

But this season, new coach Jesse Marsch has almost exclusively played him as a central or defensive midfielder.

It best suits the skill set of a player who brings lots of energy, is not afraid of getting stuck in the tackle, can ride challenges well, sprints forward with the ball with good control and of course pushes hard.

Statistics show that Haidara in his 12 Bundesliga appearances this season puts pressure on opponents an average of 19.67 times per game. match.

He will have to replicate and even increase it if he gets to the Premier League.

Haidara probably does not need too much conviction to come to United.

In a 2018 interview with FootMali, he said: ‘My dream club is Manchester United. I will fight with all my might for one day to play for that club ‘.

Julian Nagelsmann likes to play Haidara in different positions when he coached Leipzig

Julian Nagelsmann likes to play Haidara in different positions when he coached Leipzig

Who influenced Haidara?

Haidara’s role model, ironically, as he is linked with Man United, is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

He said in a recent interview: ‘He was a fighter, a captain who never gives up. When I was a kid, I used to watch all his Premier League matches.

‘He was so intense – and that’s what I want to show on the pitch too. He inspired me a lot. ‘

So Haidara sees himself as an all-action, box-to-box midfielder in Gerrard form.

United would certainly be delighted with that, especially if Paul Pogba leaves the club next year, as it looks like when his contract expires.

Haidara's role model is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who was an all-action midfielder

Haidara’s role model is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who was an all-action midfielder

Haidara’s statistics confirm this. He has two Bundesliga goals from 12 attempts on goal so far this season, scoring six times as well as setting up three more last period.

So not only would Haidara lead United’s pressured midfield, but he’s not afraid to push into the box when they have the ball. He has also proven that he can finish chances when they fall his way.

In that regard, he will be an upgrade of Fred, whose finish has been a bit of a running joke, and McTominay, who probably would not be far enough ahead to get a shot in the first place.

But his primary job would be to make sure United get hold of midfield matches, something that just hasn’t happened in too many matches this season.

Haidara has three goals in all competitions this season and finds the net quite regularly

Haidara has three goals in all competitions this season and finds the net quite regularly

What are his connections with Rangnick?

That was in 2016, when Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg scouted Haidara at the Jean-Marc Guillou Academy in Bamako, the Malian capital.

He was to play 83 games for the club before switching to Leipzig midway through the 2018-19 season.

At the time, Rangnick was in his second term as Leipzig’s coach, and after serving as football director for both clubs, he would have been aware of Haidara’s potential.

He arrived at Leipzig on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury, but when he was in good shape, Rangnick ensured he played at least a part in the season’s last nine Bundesliga matches.

Haidara dressed in colorful clothes in a post on her Instagram account

Haidara dressed in colorful clothes in a post on her Instagram account

The Malian national team player could fly in to help save Manchester United's season in January

The Malian national team player could fly in to help save Manchester United’s season in January

He also played a tiny role when Leipzig reached the German Cup final, where they lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Rangnick moved upstairs again that summer and made room for Nagelsmann, but clearly still admires a talent that the scout operation he helped establish in the two Red Bull-owned clubs helped uncover.

The Premier League would of course accommodate plenty of strangers for both coach and player, but Haidara certainly seems well equipped for the challenge.

What are the implications for United’s current players?

If Haidara arrives – and the £ 33m release clause on a player who has a contract with Leipzig until 2025 seems reasonable enough – then there will be plenty of contagious effects.

Provided he comes in and adapts quickly, Rangnick can phase Pogba out of the side as his contract ticks down and start planning for next season, where he will at least still be a consultant and potentially still a coach.

Haidara to fall for good in United would make life easier when it comes to Pogba's final months

Haidara to fall for good in United would make life easier when it comes to Pogba’s final months

It could solve any problem surrounding Pogba’s performance after returning from an injury and also minimize the inevitable distractions when the French midfielder is looking for a new club.

It would also lessen the reliance on Fred and McTominay, who have not been at all convincing as United’s midfield pair this season. Haidara sat down with one of them with a bit of rotation.

Matic, as a 33-year-old, will hardly perform too often, and if Haidara thrives as No. 8 in the Premier League and connects well with Bruno Fernandes in front of him, then that’s bad news for Donny van de Beek.

Donny van de Beek (left) plays more, but Haidara's arrival could push him out again

Donny van de Beek (left) plays more, but Haidara’s arrival could push him out again

The Dutchman, who cost United 40 million pounds, finally gets a little more time on the pitch after warming up the bench in most of Solskjær’s last weeks.

But it’s hard to see exactly where he fits in unless he finds some sparkling form from nothing to take Fernandes’ place.

More likely, Rangnick will put his trust in a combative midfielder he knows and trusts.

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