There are lots of reports coming out of Switzerland that a deal taking Breel Donald Embolo to Manchester United is close. The reputable German news source Bild are suggesting the fee could be as high as €35m plus €10m in add ons. That is a huge amount of money for a relatively unproven 19 year old, but Embolo is deserving of his hype. He has everything to develop into a top striker, while many are tipping him to be the most successful player ever to come through the famous FC Basel youth system. There has been interest from other clubs such as Liverpool and Tottenham, but Jose Mourinho looks set to bring him to Old Trafford.
In terms of his style of play, Embolo has all the physical attributes to be a success in the Premier League. He is tall, strong and bullies his way past defenders when running with the ball. It can be a near impossible task to get the ball from Embolo at times, especially given he has a lot of pace, as well as strength. The most impressive thing about the Swiss international is that he knows how to use his body frame to his advantage, and holds up the ball very well as a result. His ability to pick a pass is impressive for a player of his age, as shown by his seven league assists. Embolo has great technique and has learned a lot about the game at Basel, being played at striker, on the wing and even in central midfield at times. This versatility and tactical understanding of different positions is another strength in the teenager’s game.
The main concerns about Embolo, are his consistency in performance, as matches can pass him by, especially when his side are the underdogs. His finishing could also be improved upon. However, these are areas of the game that can be improved with experience and good coaching, two things he should receive at Old Trafford if he makes the move as expected.
There has been a lot of hype around the striker since he broke into the Basel first team and scored a goal just four minutes into his league debut at the age of 17. He is only 19 now, and his potential is frightening, considering he is already a very accomplished forward. It isn’t a surprise that Jose Mourinho has made him a priority target since taking the Manchester United job, as he has always liked to play with a physical forward, having relied on Didier Drogba, Diego Milito, Karim Benzema and Diego Costa in past jobs. Embolo fits this profile, and Mourinho will be wanting him to be the club’s first choice striker in the long run.
This does create question marks about Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford especially, while the future of Wayne Rooney as a central striker looks non-existent under Mourinho. Martial can be used as a wide forward, as he has been by club and country. Mourinho may opt to use the Frenchman there, and coach him to be more hard-working defensively, a quality the Portuguese manager demands from his wingers. Martial is another exceptional talent and he must be a part of Mourinho’s plans, as he has the ability to change matches on his own.
Rashford is a more intriguing case as he is raw and has a lot to learn when it comes to the tactical side of the game. Mourinho may see Embolo has a better fit for the starting eleven, but Rashford’s new contract suggests that he has a role to play under the new manager. Mourinho may opt to use him as an impact player and in the Europa League, as Rashford continues to learn the intricacies of the role that Mourinho likes his forwards to play. Rashford has the physical attributes to play the role, but he needs to learn the tactical side.
Embolo may seem like an odd signing from Mourinho as Manchester United already have two very exciting striking talents in their squad. However, Embolo fits Mourinho’s striking profile a lot more, and comparisons to Didier Drogba only prove that. I expect all three to be a major part of Mourinho’s plans and if they all continue to develop under the Portuguese manager, Manchester United will have a devastating front line. The deal for Embolo may seem like it will be a lot of money and that there is a lot of risk involved, but the Swiss international is the real deal and is undoubtedly going to be one of the world’s best in the future.