Marcel Sabitzer: A panic buy who can be a masterstroke by Manchester United

Marcel Sabitzer might have been a panic buy, but his loan signing might be a masterstroke by Manchester United.

The 2023 January transfer window was not very memorable for Manchester United. With the Glazer family ready to sell the club, funds had dried up last month. So resorting to the loan market was the only option for the Red Devils. And Manchester United ended the window by signing Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich.

The Red Devils had already signed Jack Butland and Wout Weghorst on loan earlier in the month. And as the deadline day arrived, the Red Devils did not seem to be in the market for any player. But Christian Eriksen’s ankle injury changed everything in the final hours of the January transfer window.

Manchester United announced on Tuesday that Eriksen would miss the next three months of action. With the Danish midfielder sidelined until the season’s final month, the Red Devils had to act quickly. And they set their sights on Marcel Sabitzer, who became enticed by the prospect of joining them.

The Premier League heavyweights moved quickly to agree to a loan deal for the 28-year-old. But despite landing Sabitzer, Manchester United had to scramble to get the paperwork sorted before the deadline. And they only managed to drop the official statement after the transfer window had shut down.

Manchester United had beaten Nottingham Forest just a couple of hours before confirming the arrival of Sabitzer. And while they looked comfortable against the Tricky Trees, they will need a top-quality midfielder like the Austrian international in the coming months.

The fixtures are piling up, and the Red Devils will play a game every three days. So Erik ten Hag cannot afford to have a thin squad until the season ends. And The Hard Tackle looks at why signing Sabitzer is a masterstroke by Manchester United, even though he is arguably a panic buy.

A natural leader who is a bundle of energy

One of Sabitzer’s standout traits is his work rate. The experienced midfielder is tireless in the middle of the park and loves to carry the ball forward. That potentially makes him an upgrade on Christian Eriksen, who had been looking fatigued the longer the match went on lately.

In addition, the 28-year-old is press-resistant, making him an ideal foil for Casemiro, who can be like a deer in headlights when the best teams press aggressively. Sabitzer, on the other hand, is nimble and can evade a press efficiently while looking to get his team out of a sticky situation.

Unlike Fred and Scott McTominay, the Austrian international knows how to move the ball forward. So he suits Erik ten Hag’s system well. At the same time, Sabitzer is a natural leader, and his introduction should benefit Manchester United during a crucial stage of the 2022/23 season.

It is worth noting that Sabitzer was the RB Leipzig captain before joining Bayern Munich. And while he has lost momentum in the last 18 months, his leadership traits would strengthen Manchester United from the mental aspect. That is crucial, considering they are still alive in four competitions.


It is no secret that the Manchester United squad is not deep enough to last the season if another pivotal player sustains an injury that will sideline him for several weeks. That is where having a player like Marcel Sabitzer will benefit the Red Devils.

The Austrian midfielder can reprise various roles in and around the centre of the pitch, making him a manager’s delight. Bear in mind, he will primarily replace Christian Eriksen in the grand scheme of things.

But Sabitzer can also reprise the no. 10 role, which he has essayed for Austria and RB Leipzig. He played in a more reserved position at Bayern Munich, where he was solid thus far this season. In addition, he is capable of playing on either flank, with his mobility and ball-carrying ability serving him well out wide.

With such qualities at his disposal, Sabitzer can prove to be an asset for Manchester United this season. And with games coming thick and fast, he can be a player who can enable others to rest in certain games by playing higher up the pitch.

How does Sabitzer stack up against Christian Eriksen?

Considering Sabitzer will replace Christian Eriksen in the next three months, this will be the burning question for Manchester United. So let’s see how the Austrian international stacks up against the Dane.

Keeping the stat period as the start of the 2021/22 season, the two players are more or less on a similar pedestal. Sabitzer plays more posses per 90 minutes (69.7) than Eriksen (61.9) while having a much better completion rate (83.0 to 77.3).

Eriksen outdoes Sabitzer with long passes, where he is more proficient. But the Bayern Munich loanee works well when stitching short passes. That makes him an ideal foil to Casemiro against teams that press aggressively and efficiently.

Meanwhile, Eriksen is more adept at slicing open the opposition defence than Sabitzer, managing more short-creating and goal-creating actions. The Dane also has more assists than the incoming player in the last 18 months. But Sabitzer is a better goalscorer and can find the back of the net from range.

In addition, his all-action style of play might make him better suited to Manchester United’s needs at this stage of the 2022/23 season. All in all, the Red Devils seem to have struck a coup while indulging in a panic buy on deadline day. And if things go well, Sabitzer should deliver the goods for Manchester United this term.

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