Anwar El Ghazi transfer: Why Man Utd shouldn’t sign the Dutchman

Manchester United have been linked with a shock move for former Aston Villa winger Anwar El Ghazi as they bid to ease their growing problems in wide areas. The Dutchman, who can play on either flank, is available on a free transfer after his release from PSV. Here’s a look at the potential Anwar El Ghazi transfer and why Man Utd shouldn’t sign the 28 year old.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Manchester United have plumped for a seemingly unlikely solution to a selection crisis. The likes of Odion Ighalo and Wout Weghorst have been surprise attacking signings in recent years and any move for El Ghazi would certainly rank alongside those deals as players you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to see moving to Old Trafford.

However, Erik ten Hag now has a pretty clear problem when it comes to wingers. Less than a fortnight has passed since the transfer window shut, but in that time-frame, the future of Jadon Sancho has become very uncertain after a public falling out between the player and his manager. Antony is also now unavailable following the allegations being made against him and it’s unclear when the Brazilian may be considered for selection again.

Why El Ghazi is not the solution

There is an element of logic to Manchester United’s reported interest in Anwar El Ghazi. He’s a player who knows the English game well having spent four seasons at Aston Villa which included a brief loan spell at Everton. Outside of the transfer window, when exciting alternatives are clearly going to be thin on the ground, the player could potentially fill a hole in the squad until January comes around at least.

However to say this would be an underwhelming signing for Manchester United to make would be a huge understatement. El Ghazi fell well down the pecking order in his final season at Villa Park, making just 4 Premier League starts before an unsuccessful loan spell at Everton that saw him spend just 11 minutes on the pitch in the league in the second half of the 2021/22 season.

El Ghazi did score 8 goals in the Eredivisie last term and actually boasts a healthy goalscoring record in his career, with his ability to take a good penalty contributing significantly to that. However he was by no means a regular at PSV, starting just 12 times in the league and only once in the Europa League last term. His involvement at the start of the 2023/24 season was even more limited, resulting in the mutual termination of his contract last week.

Given his struggles over the past two years, it’s hard to see why Manchester United would want to consider El Ghazi, even as a short-term solution.

Making up with Sancho

Jadon Sancho’s situation is clearly now very delicate with the player reportedly keen on a January move. However he’s not the first player to fall out with a manager and with four months to go until the next transfer window, it’s in nobody’s interests for the bad blood between Sancho and Ten Hag to continue over the coming weeks and months.

While he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since moving to the Premier League, Sancho is still a considerably more threatening player than El Ghazi. Talks between Ten Hag and the 23 year old are believed to have so far failed to resolve the matter but it’s hard to see a scenario where Sancho is simply frozen out altogether for the remainder of 2023, particularly given the Antony situation.

Time to give youth a chance?

While Antony has started every Premier League game so far this season, Manchester United do have alternative options on the right wing. The most viable immediate option would be Facundo Pellistri, a starter for Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay during this international break. 

The 21 year old has had limited opportunities for game time at Old Trafford until this month but is a player of considerable potential. Giving Pellistri more opportunities would surely be a preferable solution to a selection crisis than signing a more experienced player who is realistically below the level required to play for the Red Devils.

Amad Diallo is another exciting young option in the role, although he’s currently sidelined due to injury while England U19 player Shola Shoretire could also see his chances of senior minutes increase, although it’s perhaps a bit too soon for the teenager to make a serious impact at this level.