Man Utd torn apart for ‘panicking’ on transfer deadline day

ten Hag previews Man Utd's FA Cup tie against Reading

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Manchester United’s deadline-day approach for Marcel Sabitzer has been slammed by Arsenal legend Paul Merson. The Red Devils are accused of ‘panicking’ in the wake of an unfortunate injury suffered by Christian Eriksen, which looks set to keep him sidelined for at least the next three months. 

Eriksen has been a mainstay in the United midfield this season, with the Dane and Casemiro forming a formidable partnership that has been key to the side’s upturn in form. Erik ten Hag’s concern was therefore understandable when he went down with an ankle injury against Reading on Saturday. 

When the scan results revealed that he would be out of action until much later in the season, the Red Devils were incentivised to bring in a replacement and Sabitzer quickly moved to the top of their wish list. 

Having overspent during the summer, loan deals have taken priority in January and reports indicate that the swoop is moving quickly towards completion. 

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When discussing the deal, Merson was less than impressed, telling Sky Sports: “He doesn’t get in the Bayern Munich team. I know they’ve got two cemented in midfield but if he was that good he’d be pushing. Again it goes back to panic. There was no interest in him on January 1st.

“Chelsea are trying to get Enzo [Fernandez] over the line and Christian Eriksen is now injured at Man United. It’s panic. You’re buying second-rate Bayern Munich players. This lad wasn’t on the radar before. He doesn’t get in the Bayern team – nowhere near their first team. You’ve got to ask ‘is he going to make us better?’ I’m not sure.”

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Before making progress in talks for Sabitzer, United reportedly asked about the availability of fellow Bayern star Ryan Gravenberch. However, the Bavarian giants are keen to keep a close eye on the youngster while he continues his development, instructing United that he is off limits. 

Sabitzer previously spent seven years with RB Leipzig, building with them from the German second division and notching 52 goals in 229 matches. His goalscoring exploits have dried up almost entirely since signing for Bayern, however, with two in 54 games over one-and-a-half seasons. 

With Eriksen out of action, the Austrian will join up with fellow midfielders Fred, Scott McTominay and Casemiro if he completes his move to Old Trafford. United’s main priority this month was to sign an attacker following Cristiano Ronaldo’s bitter exit, and they got their man by snapping up Wout Weghorst on loan from Burnley. 

The Dutchman has impressed in the meantime, and while a back-up goalkeeper was also boxed off with the signing of Jack Butland earlier in the window, the touted deadline-day deal for Sabitzer will likely wrap up United’s month. 

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