Manchester United saw their Premier League top four chances take another blow on Tuesday after only managing a 1-1 draw at home to Everton.
It did look like Jose Mourinho’s men would lose their 19-match unbeaten record in the league when Phil Jagielka’s effort just before half time gave Ronald Koeman’s side the lead, and it was a lead they protected right up until the final few minutes.
Ashley Williams handled Luke Shaw’s goal-bound effort in the third minute of added time to give Zlatan Ibrahimovic the chance to level proceedings, and he did just that with his 16th league goal of the campaign to preserve a point for the Red Devils.
However, it means that United are four points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, and with just nine games of the season remaining, it’s going to be a tall order qualifying for the Champions League through league position.
They could still get it through winning the Europa League though – they are in the quarter-finals – and despite Mourinho’s men having much to play for between now and May, it hasn’t stopped speculation building about who they may look to sign in the summer.
And one man they’ve been linked to in recent days is Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who scored a stunner in their 2-0 victory over Stoke City on Saturday.
The 20-year-old has been sensational for the Foxes since moving to the King Power Stadium in January, but it looks like his stay in the Midlands may not last too long as both United and Arsenal are reportedly keeping tabs on his progress.
And it’s a move Mourinho must look to seal ahead of Arsene Wenger this summer to help take United to the next level.
That’s because the Red Devils may need a new midfielder to replace 35-year-old Michael Carrick in the summer.
The former England international has yet to agree a new deal at Old Trafford, and although it’s not unusual for him to leave it late (he signed a contract after last season’s FA Cup final), that uncertainty can’t be overly helpful given how integral he is to this United side.
Carrick, who will be 36 in July, gives the Red Devils a measure of control and composure which not many over midfielders provide, and although Ndidi probably isn’t that sort of player yet, he would give United greater steel in the midfield area.
The 20-year-old has the power and strength to dominate physically in the middle of the park, but he is also solid and reliable with the ball at his feet, be it in front of his own back four, or when he is looking to go forward and launch attacks – his strike against Stoke also suggests that he’s got a pretty fierce shot on him as well.
Ndidi has been compared to his predecessor at Leicester, N’Golo Kante, so if United get even half the player Kante is, they would have a top midfielder on their books.
But Ndidi’s arrival could also see Mourinho get the best out of £89 million man Paul Pogba, who still isn’t quite firing on all cylinders in England.
The 23-year-old returned to Old Trafford last summer but has scored just four goals and assisted three others this term, with the biggest issue being exactly where Mourinho is playing him.
He has at times been playing in a more defensive role, sometimes in a more advanced role, and sometimes in the middle of those two, yet none at the moment seem to get the best out of the Frenchman.
Yet, having someone like Ndidi, who is of similar physical stature to Pogba but with a greater desire to do the defensive duties, behind the 23-year-old can only benefit Pogba in his bid to get forward, create chances, and score goals.
Not only would the signing of Ndidi be helping United’s defensive shape and likely make them even more difficult to beat, but his presence would enable the front players to really commit to creating goal-scoring opportunities.
Thus, it’s a deal United really must get done this summer.