Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag pointed to a shortage of midfield options due to injury as the main reason the club secured a deadline day loan deal for Marcel Sabitzer.
Sabitzer, who made his name at RB Leipzig, has joined from Bayern Munich for the remainder of the season, completing his move to Old Trafford late on Tuesday night.
United initially weren’t planning to dip into the transfer market as the January transfer window drew to a close. But 90min reported on Tuesday that Sabitzer had been offered, while Ten Hag had also advised trying to add to the cover in midfield late on.
Injuries were really the driving factor behind the approach. Christian Eriksen in particular was suddenly ruled out until May as a result of a bad tackle from Reading forward Andy Carroll over the weekend, potentially leaving United too light in the centre of the pitch.
“We are really happy with that transfer because we need it after Donny van de Beek dropped out, now Christian Eriksen for a longer time and also, I think for a short time, Scott McTominay is also not available,” Ten Hag said of Sabitzer’s arrival.
“So that gives us a shortage of midfield players. But then to bring a quality player in on deadline day that is difficult, and we got this opportunity.”
Ten Hag continued: “I know the player already a long time from [RB] Salzburg. Especially from [RB] Leipzig. He performed fantastically, so I expect that he will do the same here.
“I think he has a great attitude; he is at the right age, and I am sure this opportunity will motivate him greatly and he will perform strongly for us.”
In earlier comments, Ten Hag seemed to confirm that he had indeed asked for a new midfielder.
“As a manager, I think you always try to find to make your team better. I wouldn’t be a good manager if I didn’t make the request,” he said.
“If there are opportunities, it is my job to tell the club there are opportunities to strengthen the squad and our team. And it is about them and about financial frameworks and what is acceptable and what is reasonable.”
Sabitzer was in attendance at Old Trafford as United beat Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night and is likely to be in contention for his debut when Crystal Palace visit in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
The Austria international, who is very well known to former United interim boss Ralf Rangnick, had played 24 times for Bayern in all competitions this season prior to leaving – however, more than half of those appearances were as a substitute.