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James Ward-Prowse is the latest midfielder to be linked with a move to Manchester United. But their rivals Man City are also reportedly keeping tabs on him.
The Southampton star is enjoying another superb season. He has been a standout for the Saints in recent months. The club aren’t having their best campaign, but their captain fantastic has been a shining light.
They would be foolish to let go of their skipper. But given their position in the table, and indeed the income that a potential transfer would bring, it could now be a reality this summer.
But would the talented midfielder fit in better at Man Utd or Man City?
Erik ten Hag to look at James Ward-Prowse
Incoming Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag will undoubtedly oversee a major squad overhaul. And that includes his midfield. Veterans Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic look set to be the first players out of the door.
Paul Pogba is another who could swiftly move on. The outgoings will leave a huge gap in the United midfield. Whether or not the incoming manager will favour both Scott McTominay and Fred remains to be seen.
Ten Hag has largely opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Ajax. It will certainly take some time to get used to at Old Trafford, so whether or not it is current or incoming players who start is irrelevant. Both groups will need time to adapt to the new system.
Bruno Fernandes would more than likely occupy one of those three midfield roles. And one of either McTominay or Fred could occupy another. Could Ward-Prowse fill the final gap?
Declan Rice’s name has been mentioned frequently when talking of summer arrivals. But the West Ham man would cost considerably more than the Saints midfielder.
One other major benefit of bringing in the latter is, of course, his set-piece ability. Only Man Utd legend David Beckham (18) has more Premier League free-kick goals than Ward-Prowse. The 27-year-old has 14, and will be keen on overtaking Beckham in the near future. He has four this season alone.
Man Utd don’t need to prioritise scoring free-kicks at this moment in time. But it would be a welcome bonus when the time comes.
Pep Guardiola eyeing a Fernandinho replacement
Man City boss Pep Guardiola is also an admirer of Ward-Prowse. City are, however, another club reportedly eyeing Rice. But again, finances could come into play. The blue half of Manchester may just spend a large chunk of their money on Erling Haaland.
That deal could force Guardiola into looking for a cheaper option than Rice. And that man may just be Ward-Prowse.
Just like in every other position, City want more than one option in defensive midfield. Rodri and Fernandinho are the two current options. But the latter is seemingly entering his final stages at the Etihad.
Although the Southampton man has largely played in central midfield, he is more than capable of dropping slightly. He’s done that already this season at St Mary’s.