Manchester United should consider a summer move for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte after his phenomenal performance against Arsenal in the Europa League.
The Uruguay international is regarded as one of the best young defensive midfielders and he enhanced his reputation yesterday with an excellent display against the Gunners.
Sporting were held to a 2-2 draw after the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie at home, and they managed to beat Arsenal with a penalty shootout win at the Emirates Stadium.
Granit Xhaka gave the hosts an early lead but Sporting equalized with a moment of sheer brilliance. Pedro Goncalves unleashed a superb effort from the halfway line to beat Aaron Ramsdale.
A series of fantastic saves from Antonio Adan helped Sporting take the game to penalties. The Spaniard saved a Gabriel Martinelli spot-kick to secure an unlikely victory for Sporting.
Goncalves and Adan made a big difference for Sporting last night, but Ugarte was the unsung hero after an incredible midfield display against Xhaka, Jorginho as well as Thomas Partey.
The 21-year-old missed the first leg in Lisbon due to picking up three yellow cards, but he certainly made his presence felt at the Emirates with a superb all-round performance.
Ugarte received his matching orders just before the shoot-out following his second yellow card, but he was outstanding prior to that with a stunning 13 tackles and eight tackles won.
The youngster also completed 88 per cent of his passes while winning all four of his take-ons. We wouldn’t be surprised if Ugarte secures a bigger challenge this summer and United should look at him.
Ugarte has the potential to develop into an elite holding midfielder and could be seen as the ideal competitor and back-up to Casemiro at number six next term.
The club are currently considering the potential summer sale of Scott McTominay and Ugarte would be a definite upgrade for the Scot with his excellent defensive qualities.
However, he is unlikely to come cheap. He is valued at €25 million by Transfermarkt and Sporting could hold out for his €60 million release clause. His contract does not expire until June 2026.
Statistics from Sofascore.com and Transfermarkt.com