Schalke 04 winger Rabbi Matondo is being considered by Manchester United as an alternative to Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho, who is a key transfer target for the club in the next transfer window.
The Welsh winger left United’s rivals Manchester City in January 2019 to join Bundesliga side Schalke 04, and has put in some impressive if raw performances for the German side over the last 14 months. The MEN understands United have been scouting Matondo and view him as a more cost-efficient option in the next transfer window if Borussia Dortmund outprice them for Sancho.
So, what kind of impact could Matondo have at United if he joined the club when the transfer window opens?
We used Football Manager 2020 to predict how United could perform with Matondo in the squad from next summer.
Rabbi Matondo to Manchester United in July 2020
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2020 editor to arrange the transfer of Rabbi Matondo to Manchester United on July 1st 2020.
This is how Matondo’s player profile looks like in Football Manager 2020 in late May 2020.
A raw talent but plenty of potential there.
We then simulated the next two seasons to see what kind of impact Matondo could have at United in the 2020/21 campaign.
Here is a summary of the United transfers that happened in-game in the summer of 2020/21.
Transfers in: £219m
Perhaps a reminder as to how much you should take the results of this simulator with a pinch of salt, United brought in Marcelo Brozovic, Diogo Leite, Rabbi Matondo, Everton, Marcos Paulo, Filipe Soares and Yacine Adli for a total of £219 million!
Transfers out: £74m
Brandon Williams moved to Leicester City for £37 million, joining Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata in leaving the club (again, very unlikely).
The youngster made a decent impact at the club in his debut season, not too dissimilar to the type of impact his Welsh teammate Daniel James made in his first season.
The winger made 42 appearances in all competitions, but only 20 were starts, with a further 22 appearances coming from the bench. In those appearances, Matondo scored 11 goals and provided four assists, which is a strong return for such a young player.
Matondo was also one of United’s most exciting players with the ball at his feet in the Premier League, with only Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and new signing Everton making more dribbles per game.
But he was also included in the top five most creative United players in the Premier League, creating 21 chances for his teammates, with only Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcelo Brozovic and Marcus Rashford creating more.
So how did Matondo’s arrival effect United’s performance in 2020/21?
With Matondo, and the raft of summer signings that were added in the summer of 2020, United mounted a genuine title challenge, eventually finishing just two points behind eventual champions Liverpool in second place.
In the Champions League, United had a great campaign and reached the latter stages, but eventually lost to Liverpool in the quarter-final, with Matondo actually scoring in the second leg.
Matondo couldn’t quite get in to United’s best eleven in 2020/21, as his best appearances came from the bench, with Everton and Marcus Rashford outperforming the youngster in the wide positions.
Chris Smalling returned to the club and became first choice alongside Harry Maguire, with Jesse Lingard having a decent campaign as the club’s number ten, with Pogba and Fernandes often paired together in deeper positions.
According to our Football Manager 2020 simulation, Matondo is an exciting but raw talent who could make an impact at United should he make the move to Old Trafford in the next transfer window. The youngster might not be a first team regular right away, but his impact off the bench could prove invaluable in helping United secure a strong league finish and a strong Champions League campaign.
As always, this if just a bit of fun, but it’s interesting to see what kind of potential impact Matondo could have at United next season, if the club did manage to secure his signature.