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Who Is Man United Transfer Target Denis Zakaria?

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It is no secret that Manchester United are after a new midfielder in the next transfer window.

The club have settled on finding three new players in the upcoming market, with a figure in the middle of the park being shortlisted as a priority (via MEN).

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It was reported back in March by Sky Germany (via Daily Mail), that United were the favourites to sign Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria. Many fans welcomed the news, as he is one of the Bundesliga’s most highly-regarded talents.

Not caught up on the player? We’ve provided some info on his profile below.

Who is Dennis Zakaria?

Denis Zakaria joined Mönchengladbach back in 2017, arriving as a promising midfielder from Young Boys.

The German club has always provided an ideal setup for such prospects to develop in, with notable names like Marco Reus, Granit Xhaka and Thorgan Hazard all kickstarting their careers with the Bundesliga outfit.

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Since arriving, the midfielder has always been a key starter for his side, helping Gladbach rise back up the table after two disappointing years. Last season, he featured thirty-one times in the Bundesliga, guiding his side to their best league standing (5th) since 2016.

His emergence at the top level has also seen Zakaria establish himself as a starter for his national side. The midfielder was given his Switzerland debut back in 2016, before nailing down a starting spot. With twenty-four caps to his name, he is trusted to partner Xhaka in Vladimir Petković’s midfield two.

Style of Play

Having been compared to both Patrick Vieira and Paul Pogba, it’s fair to say that Zakaria is quite the all-rounded midfielder, possessing both attacking and defensive traits.

His all-rounded style of play is epitomised through his impressive stats, where he is averaging 2.1 tackles per game in the Bundesliga, but also 2 dribbles. The latter is a particular highlight of the Swiss international’s game, as he likes to get hold of the ball and drive forward, operating as his side’s engine in the middle of the park.

For context, he averages the same number of dribbles per game as Marcus Rashford. In the tackling department too, his defensive output is higher than both Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic, whilst also being dribbled past less than the latter.

Zakaria’s strengths in defending has actually seen Marco Rose deploy the 23-year-old as a centre-back at times this season, further epitomising the player’s strong resilience. Overall, he is a prominent figure with dominating tools in his arsenal, with such traits developing at a rapid pace.

A good fit at United?

As per reports, Jack Grealish and James Maddison are United’s top midfield targets, but both these players would be brought in with the aim of providing some creative support to Bruno Fernandes and the team’s attacking frontmen.

Many fans have been calling for the club to recruit a new holding player, with Zakaria fitting this profile to a tee. The 23-year-old is experienced in screening the space in-front of a backline, holding defensive responsibilities for both his Bundesliga side and national team.

He operates in a pivot with Arsenal’s Xhaka for Switzerland, meaning he has to maintain defensive discipline at all times. For Gladbach, he has averaged 1.6 interceptions per game in the league this season, more than any other United midfielder. He is a quick figure and reads the game well, two important attributes for the modern, mobile anchor.

On paper, Zakaria would slot into Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s midfield trio rather comfortably, as the Norwaigen likes to operate with two central players sitting. This means either midfielder is also granted a license to break forward when necessary – a role the Swiss simply flourishes in.

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