United’s new signing may be something of an unknown quantity in England, but over in France they’ve been singing his praises for years.
In fact, Gabriel Obertan was being tipped for the top long before he even made his senior debut for Bordeaux as a 17-year-old.
So what sort of player is the France U21 international? And what can United fans expect from his first season at Old Trafford? To find out, we spoke exclusively to BBC 5Live’s European football expert Andy Brassell...
How highly rated is Obertan in France?
He’s a terrific player, although, to be honest, I think some people in France are quite surprised by the transfer. He’s been on the cusp of something great at Bordeaux for a while now – he made his debut at 17 – but he hasn’t quite kicked on and forced himself into the side on a regular basis. Despite that, I think he’ll be a really good fit at United.
What are his main attributes?
He’s a very versatile player and the way United play you need your frontmen to be mobile and flexible. He’s a right-sided attacker, but he can also drop back into midfield or play as a second striker. He could probably also play in central midfield, and I expect his adaptability is one reason Sir Alex was interested in him. He went through the famous Clairefontaine football academy so he has a lot of technical ability and he’s also very quick.
So he’s not a like-for-like replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo?
No, I don’t think you can compare him to Ronaldo or claim he’ll be a direct replacement – they’re different sorts of players. However, like Ronaldo when he first came to England, there’s an element of the unknown around Obertan, which could work in his favour. Remember, though, Obertan’s played about 100 first-team games already and he’s played in the Champions League, so he has decent experience under his belt. In that sense, he’s maybe better prepared for England than Ronaldo was when he first arrived. Obertan also understands his attributes very well: he’s direct and has plenty of tricks, but he’s not going to over-elaborate or do them for the sake of showing off.
Are we talking about a future star?
Well, a lot of people in France think he could become something really special. He hasn’t quite progressed at the rate people had hoped after his debut at 17, but he’s also been a little bit