Once the news of Manchester United allegedly contacting the agent of RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg was perpetrated by Calciomercato.it, I switched my focus to two very specific questions which I needed answers to—and one of them is not how good the player is/has been at his previous club or whether he could fit in at Manchester United because that could wait until the information is more concrete—it’s rather more like wet cement at this stage.
Why Emil Forsberg, now?
At this stage, a bit of a background on the latest ‘target’ would not go amiss. Forsberg is Swedish, a 25-year old midfielder who has the ability to play on the left, as he has done for RB Leipzig on a few occasions, but also predominantly through the middle, where he has come leaps and bounds in 2016/17; so much so that the Germans decided to offer him a lucrative deal, which the player signed in February 2017.
So, Forsberg’s current contract runs until the Summer of 2022. And the player, according to the same news outlet, is valued at close to €50m, which is around the same price that the Red Devils are seemingly willing to part with for a more experienced Ivan Perisic of Inter Milan, who is a left-sided midfielder/winger and is certainly one that Jose Mourinho is looking to add to his ranks.
But that deal has stalled for weeks and months now. Mourinho has reiterated that it’s not so much his desire, but a genuine need to bolster his squad with a midfielder and a winger to supplement Romelu Lukaku—his big money acquisition this summer—to extract maximum value out of him.
Perisic wants to move to United and Spalletti has recently stated that he would want to keep the Croatian—and is, by the looks of it, winning the battle. It remains to be seen whether the Portuguese will win the war.
Do we sense parallels?
There are some interesting parallels that could be drawn between a prospective move for Forsberg and the more recent signings that Mourinho has made at United, which suggests that this latest pursuit could be more than just the usual transfer whim.
The Swede has enjoyed a phenomenal season for RB Leipzig in which he has contributed to 27 goals in 27 starts—ending the campaign as the league’s most prolific creator of goals (19 assists). In fact, he is at the very top of Europe’s assists-chart, which is rather impressive. He has, as a result, featured in the Bundesliga Team of the Year in 2016/17 voted in by the fans. Funnily enough, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a very similar player to Emil Forsberg, enjoyed a very similar individual season with Borussia Dortmund before making his big move to Manchester United.
Even more interesting is the fact that Forsberg—in addition to being from the same country, also shares the same agency (HCM Sport Agency) as United’s first signing this summer in 22-year old Victor Lindelöf. Given the healthy relationship between the club and the said organization, it’s hard not to imagine the Portuguese making an enquiry about one of their best clients to strengthen one of his key positions.
It may all be a ‘smokescreen’, in transfer window parlance, or a show of might from the buyer to unsettle Perisic and thereby force Inter to lower the demands from their end, which at the moment includes Martial going their way on a loan deal.
In any case, the whole situation—and the way Emil Forsberg’s name has popped up, out of virtually nowhere, reeks so much of United’s latest signing Romelu Lukaku—that move being completed after the Red Devils publicly courting the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata. In the end, however, United made the move and got the job done and the squad is now stronger for it.
United fans will hope the output is similar in this case too.