Micah Richards believes Manchester United’s best midfield in the future would see Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba starting ahead of one more defensive-minded player.
And the Sky Sports pundit did not even mention Donny van de Beek when considering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most likely options going forward, summing up the lack of impact the Dutchman has had at Old Trafford so far.
Van de Beek has been a peripheral figure since joining in a £40m move from Ajax in September, with the 23-year-old still having failed to start a Premier League game.
There has been much debate over what would comprise Solskjaer’s first-choice midfield, with Fred and Scott McTominay starting behind Fernandes in United’s 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday.
But speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Richards gave a definitive answer when asked whether he believes United can afford to play Pogba and Fernandes together – and the failure to mention Van de Beek was conspicuous.
“I think you can,” he replied. “Pogba has not been playing to his best and I’ve always protected him because of his talent.
“He’s not done as well as he should have done, we all know that, but he’s been in a team that’s been in transition for the last few years, and his performances have not matched what he does with the French side and what he was doing at Juventus.
“Fernandes has not always been playing that great. He played really well last season, he started off OK this season but he gets important goals and assists.
“I would play them both in centre midfield. I would play just one sitter, McTominay or Fred, and Pogba and Fernandes in front.”
The fact that Van de Beek was not even considered by Richards is a damning indictment of the player considering how much hype there was over his arrival.
It remains to be seen whether Solskjaer follows Richards’ advice, but one thing is for sure: Van de Beek is already in danger of becoming United’s forgotten man.
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