Opinion Piece: Marcel Sabitzer

February 6th, 2023 | Football

Written by Jack Dixon

After a relatively quiet January transfer window for Manchester United, with Wout Weghorst the only arrival up until the 31st, not much was expected from United heading into the final days of the window.

But against Reading on the 28th of January, Christian Eriksen, a key player in Erik ten Hag’s side, sustained an ankle injury, ruling the Danish midfielder out until late April/Early May.

With Donny van de Beek already ruled out for the season, and Scott McTominay having an injury issue, United had to act on the final day.

The moment stories came out, beginning to link Manchester United to Marcel Sabitzer, I was excited. This is a player I have watched, mainly in an RB Leipzig shirt, and have enjoyed watching, mostly in the Champions League.

I remember Sabitzer joining Bayern Munich and thinking “that is the kind of deal we (Manchester United) should be doing”.

The rumours on deadline day were about a potential loan deal, which at first I did not really understand, but after researching his recent game time at Bayern, it makes more sense.

United were seemingly offered a few players on deadline day, but out of those options Sabitzer seemed the most logical.

Manchester United fans, me being one of them, were perhaps fearful of a panic deal involving the wrong kind of player. There are risks with every transfer, but there are some that are more risk-free and likely to succeed than others. A potential loan move for Marcel Sabitzer, an Austrian international and Bayern Munich player, just seemed like a top, low risk signing, especially on a loan deal.

Sabitzer has played the full match on only three occasions this season and based on what his agent Roger Wittmann had to say, regular game time is vital for the Austrian midfield. On Sabitzer, Wittmann said, “[He’s] the most unpleasant person to be around when he’s not playing”.

Wittmann also said “He hates it when he loses. That’s the bottom line. Character-wise, the kid is a killer”,

“That’s what players who always want to win look like.”

This kind of “winning mentality” would have really appealed to Erik ten Hag, who has already brought in “winners” with the likes of Casemiro and Lisandro Martínez.

Manchester United did manage to get a loan deal agreed with Bayern Munich in time and Sabitzer is, for at least until the end of the season, a Manchester United player.

I am very excited about the transfer and thought I could share some insight into what kind of player he is and why I am so excited about the signing.

United’s longer-term injuries are Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen. These two injuries meant Erik ten Hag suddenly lacked depth in both the no.8 and no.10 positions. Sabitzer has played in more advanced positions before, and has done so to great effect, but I personally see him more as that box-to-box no.8 type of player. I also think Erik ten Hag comments on Jadon Sancho’s ability to play as a no.10, and Marcus Rashford having played there the odd occasion this season, albeit more as a “shadow striker”, means the Dutch manager is planning to utilise Sabitzer more in that no.8 role. This could be in a midfield three as a no.8 or as one of the two in a midfield double-pivot, with Erik ten Hag having played both 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations this season.

Sabitzer is seemingly an attack-minded player, but he can also carry out his defensive duties to great effect. He likes a tackle, is good at closing the opposition down and will work hard for the team.

I see Sabitzer’s best attributes when in possession. The Austrian has brilliant ball control and loves to drive with the ball, taking on opposition players and getting his team up the pitch. His passing is tidy and he can keep it simple or hit those more ambitious passes when it is the right time to do so.

He also has a brilliant strike on him. His technique seems unique in a way that is difficult to describe. He generates so much power with his shots from both dead-ball situations and in open play, I would not be surprised to see some stunning goals from the Austrian during his time at Old Trafford.

His awareness is also top level. He is very press resistant and seems to know his surroundings on the pitch, which is important for any midfield player. He can gauge when it is the right time to play the simpler pass or the killer pass. His dribbling and great ball control are very useful should he find himself in tight spaces or against an opposition player one on one. He can play quick passes and execute audacious flicks to find his teammates, even when in tight spaces, which he is able to do not just because of his technical ability, but also his awareness.

In summary, I am expecting a strong, powerful, technically gifted and intelligent well-rounded footballer. If Marcel Sabitzer can replicate the kind of form he has shown previously, the Old Trafford faithful will take to him quickly.

Let us hope he can adapt to the Premier League and show what he is about.

Jack Dixon

Jack is at university studying sports journalism. He writes these articles for work experience. If anyone reading this knows of any work experience opportunities please get in touch. We would really appreciate it.