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Will Marcel Sabitzer Flourish At Man Utd?

Manchester United's loan move for Bayern Munich's Marcel Sabitzer on transfer deadline day was one of the more surprising deals of another record-breaking window.

United manager Erik ten Hag was forced into a late foray into the market by Tuesday's news that Christian Eriksen was out for at least three months with an ankle injury, and he quickly set his sights on Sabitzer - a player the club has been tracking for a long time.

But why has the 28-year-old Austrian international been identified as the man to plug the gap at Old Trafford and can Bayern's fourth-choice midfielder flourish as Manchester United look to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League?

The loan move for Sabitzer was only possible because Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann agreed to let one of his backup midfielders go.

The decision shows how Sabitzer's standing within the club has changed. Initially, when Nagelsmann's stint at Bayern started in 2021, he was adamant about bringing his former midfielder with him from RB Leipzig.

However, he was never able to claim a spot in the starting XI when all his direct competitors for the number six role were available. Ultimately, he fell behind Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Jamal Musiala in the pecking order.

With the Bundesliga giants securing the services of Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer this summer, it is clear that Sabitzer does not have a Bayern future.

Initially, he intended to stay until the end of the season, but he opportunistically grabbed the chance to make a move to England.

"Sometimes in life, you have to make quick and important decisions. From the moment I heard about this opportunity I knew it was right for me," Sabitzer said as the transfer was announced.

The next few months offer him a second chance to establish himself among the top-tier midfielders in Europe. It is understood that United's scouts highlighted in their reports Sabitzer's leadership skills and categorised him as a versatile attacking player with quality technical skills.

Sabitzer began his career as a quick-footed and energetic winger, playing for four different Vienna clubs before joining the Red Bull football organisation. He made his first appearance for RB Leipzig in 2015, as the wealthy newcomers were trying to secure promotion to the Bundesliga.

He quickly became an integral part of Ralf Rangnick and Ralph Hasenhuttl's 4-2-2-2 system under both managers at Leipzig, being paired in the line behind the two strikers with Swedish international Emil Forsberg.

They expected the two to be more than just straightforward wingers, as they had to show playmaking abilities and a sense for when to move inside, acting like a number 10 would.

Sabitzer excelled in that role over the years, but, since he wasn't among the most explosive players in the Bundesliga, he was occasionally tried out in central positions.

Nagelsmann decided to employ Sabitzer primarily as a number six after the winter break in 2020, and one of his favourite pupils immediately performed on a high level in the role of a forward-driving centre midfielder, helping Leipzig to the Champions League semi-final in the same year.

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