Deadline-day signing Sofyan Amrabat: I only ever wanted to play for Man Utd

Amrabat’s qualities came to the fore at the 2022 World Cup, where his outstanding displays helped Morocco on their historic run to the semi-finals.

Simon Peach
Wednesday 27 September 2023 13:00 BST
Sofyan Amrabat impressed on his full debut for Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)
Sofyan Amrabat impressed on his full debut for Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Deadline-day signing Sofyan Amrabat says he only ever wanted to join Manchester United and believes Erik ten Hag’s side can “do something big” this season.

The 27-year-old’s qualities came to the fore during the 2022 World Cup, where his outstanding midfield displays helped Morocco on their historic run to the semi-finals.

Amrabat was linked with moves aplenty after Qatar and numerous clubs expressed their interest in a player that only wanted to leave Fiorentina this summer for one destination.

The midfielder played under Ten Hag at Utrecht at the start of his career and was determined to link back up with him at United as he wrapped up a long-discussed deal at the start of September.

Asked if it was a difficult process waiting to get the move, Amrabat said: “Yes, of course.

“After the last game with the club, it was the Conference League final with West Ham and from that moment, the window started for me.

“A lot of clubs, a lot of speaking, talking, but for me it was clear I wanted Manchester United.

“It was long, long months for me, difficult months for me, but at the end it’s nice on the last day that I signed here and that I’m here is now the most important (thing).”

United paid 10million euros (£8.6m) to sign Amrabat on loan for the season, with the deal including the option to trigger a permanent move.

The Serie A will receive a 20m euros (£17.1m) fee and up to 5m euros (£4.3m) in potential add-ons if that option is taken by Ten Hag’s men.

“I don’t think about that,” Amrabat said of his future beyond this season. “For me, today, I am a Manchester United player.

“The only thing I can do is every day to give everything that I have, to do my best, to try to help the team.

“I hope we have a fantastic season, I hope we can win something and then later we will see what will happen.

“Of course, I would love to stay here, but that’s not important for me. I don’t look too far into the future.”

Amrabat spoke as he basked in the afterglow of an impressive first appearance at Old Trafford, where he helped United beat Crystal Palace 3-0 in the Carabao Cup third round.

“It was fantastic,” he said with a smile. “It was a dream of mine. Since I was a child I worked for this every day and to be here is a dream, it’s fantastic.”

After a small injury delayed his debut, Amrabat finally made his bow off the bench in Saturday’s much-needed win at Burnley before making his first start against Palace three days later.

Those back-to-back victories have lifted the mood around Old Trafford after what had been a challenging start to the season on and off the field for absentee-hit United.

Pressure and scrutiny had grown having lost four of their opening six matches of a season for the first time since 1986, but Amrabat is confident they can kick on and enjoy a successful season.

“I have a lot of confidence because I see that we have so much quality,” he said.

“I think it was a bit unlucky with the injuries we had. Of course for every team it’s difficult if you have a lot of injuries.

“But I see a lot of quality, we have a fantastic coach, we have fantastic fans, so I believe that we can do something big.

“But at the end you have to show it on the pitch, not with talking, not with speaking, you have to work for it and hopefully we can reach something very nice.”

United won the Carabao Cup in their first season under Ten Hag, who described Amrabat as a “warrior” on Tuesday as he started as makeshift left-back due to a string of absentees.

“First of all, when I make a step on the pitch, for me it’s normal that you give everything, that you fight for every metre and give your all for the team,” the Morocco international added.

“Of course you can make technical mistakes, everyone can have a bad game, but I think – at the end – most importantly, you fight for the badge, for the club and that’s the minimum you can do.

“I think, for me, that’s normal and that’s what I try always.

“The manager knows me very well, a long time – maybe seven years ago that we worked together, so it’s a long time.

“But he knows me, I know him, I know what he wants and I try to do that at the best (level).”

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