Despite much fanfare, Sofyan Amrabat has had a mediocre start to life as a Manchester United player which has seen him drop down to the bench. Consequently, his spot in the team has been frequently taken by the much-maligned Scott McTominay.
It all started out so differently for the Moroccan World Cup hero. The midfield general was praised by United fans for his incredible patience to sign for the club despite the interest of many other teams including Premier League rivals Fulham. The player, who claimed to only have eyes for the Red Devils, finally got his dream move from Fiorentina on deadline day.
In fact, arch-rivals Liverpool were also rumoured to be close to securing the services of the World Cup semi-finalist, as a deal was said to be “only hours away”. However, once again Amrabat’s supposed desire for United kept the deal from happening. That is quite a way to endear yourself to Manchester United fans around the globe.
Anyone who was following the Red Devils’ transfer activity on social media during the dying embers of the window would have seen the name Amrabat trending everyday on X. Such a clamour for a player of the Moroccan’s stature is rare. You would have been excused for thinking United were chasing a world-class talent like Kylian Mbappe or Jude Bellingham.
Man United fans got their wish and the man from Morocco was brought in on an initial €10m loan fee with the possibility of a permanent deal for €25m. The excitement probably mainly stemmed from the trending video of Amrabat heroically chasing down Mbappe at the World Cup and producing a monstrous sliding tackle to not only cleanly win the ball, but also continue to drive his team down the pitch by majestically carrying the ball downfield.
Secondly, the shambolic midfield performances versus Wolves on the opening day of the season also led many to doubt the wisdom of an aging Casemiro being the only defensive midfield option at the club.
So, the Moroccan made his much awaited debut vs Burnley in September and had fans excitedly chattering after a “stunning” full debut vs Crystal Palace at home in a 3-0 Carabao Cup victory.
Sadly, and this seems a recurring theme this season, things have only gone downhill since. The man from Huizen has failed to make any real lasting impression on the team. In fact, he has also put in some brutally poor performances. He was hooked at half-time in the Manchester derby and seems a regular candidate for the referee’s notebook. The pace of both the league and Champions League seems too much for the former Fiorentina man at present. Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton claimed the player looked like “a fish out of water” in the team’s 1-0 defeat vs Crystal Palace.
The Peoples Person recently labelled the signing a 1 out 10 so far stating that the midfielder has looked “overawed” and is yet to “find his feet” at the top level.
This lack of impact can be seen in the 10 games he has played in all competitions for the Mancunian side, he has failed to score or register an assist. In fact, the long-range pile driver that rattled the bar against Sheffield United is the only real chance he has had. To be fair, goals and assists should not be the marker of a defensive midfielder. So, let’s delve deeper.
According to Transfermarkt the player has only played more than 45 mins five times in his 10 appearances for the club. Hardly a ringing endorsement from the manager. The team have also lost five games and conceded 16 goals with the Moroccan picking up 3 yellow cards. Not great.
In Amrabat’s defence, it has not been plain sailing for him. The prolonged nature of the transfer meant that the midfielder had not been training with Fiorentina all summer, so effectively had no real pre-season. Furthermore, an injury crisis at his new club saw him play his first few games as a left-back, which is far from his natural position.
Additionally, he has had a revolving door of defensive and midfield partners in a club which is doused in uncertainty. Would anyone really be successful is the question. Lastly, to compound matters, the World Cup star picked up an injury while on international duty, so he has probably not been able to play to his maximum potential.
So what could have gone wrong, has gone wrong. This is the story of the Red Devils’ season. No matter what way you look at it, you cannot sugarcoat it. Amrabat has struggled and doesn’t look good enough. If the season ended tomorrow, the manager would be mad to sanction a permanent move. Luckily for the Moroccan, the season doesn’t end tomorrow. We are only in November and there is ample time to turn it around. Casemiro’s long term injury has also provided him a chance to nail down a more regular starting role in the defensive midfield department. Over to you Sofyan.