After last season is the midfield of Manchester United the main concern for Sir Alex Ferguson? With the bowel condition to Darren Fletcher, the inconsistent form of Anderson, the age of Paul Scholes, criticism from ‘so called’ fans of Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs not performing very well as a CM and the prolonged injuries to Tom Cleverley, I feel it is still a position Sir Alex needs to strengthen. Here are some of the players that I feel could do a job in the centre of midfield for the Red Devils. I am not saying we will sign any of them, or reading into rumours relating to the players, just merely suggesting that they could actually perform at Manchester United.
Joao Moutinho of FC Porto (Getty Images)
Joao Moutinho was for me the Man of the Match for Portugal against Spain 3 days ago. He controlled the midfield and made Spain look like an average side. Could he do this at Old Trafford? At only 25 years of age, the Portuguese international has won a handful of titles and has over 40 caps for Portugal. He spent from 2004/05 until 2009/10 seasons at Sporting Lisbon, where he made 259 appearances, scored 32 goals and assisted in 26 goals. He spent the last two seasons at FC Porto, where he has made 96 appearances, scoring 5 goals and assisting in 16 goals. This is something Manchester United would benefit from as I see the midfield as the key to winning matches, and the Red Devils do need some quality in midfield, in order to attempt to win the UEFA Champions League again.
At this moment in time there has been no links with Moutinho to Manchester United, but FC Porto have given the impression that there will be some interest for the player. Will any interest be from Old Trafford?
Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Luka Modric has been linked to Manchester United for the second summer, since he handed in a transfer request shortly after the 2010/11 season at Tottenham Hotspur. Although he seemed to want to move to Chelsea, more than the Old Trafford outfit. The Croatian playmaker would be an instant hit for the Red Devils. Luka is seen as one of the Barclays Premier League’s best players and would surely be a great replacement for Paul Scholes, when he decides to call it a day. The Croatian international started life at Dinamo Zagreb, making a total of 126 appearances, scoring 33 goals and assisting in 22 goals. In the summer of 2008 he signed for Tottenham Hotspur, where in four seasons, he has made 159 appearances, scored 17 goals and assisted in 26 goals. He is classed as the best player for the London club, alongside Gareth Bale.
In recent weeks, Modric has been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea. It is thought that Tottenham want around £35m to secure the signature of their best player. Manchester United did have the money to bid for Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa, so they could have the cash to lure Modric away from London!! I feel he will either end up at Real Madrid or Chelsea, but he would make a difference to the midfield at Old Trafford, and certainly would add some winners medals to his collection.
Thiago Alcantara of FC Barcelona (Getty Images)
The Spanish international has been linked to Manchester United in recent weeks. I am not sure if this was fact or press rumour, but I feel he would be a good addition to the Red Devils. He is only 21, yet has won La Liga with Barcelona three times, also won Copa del Rey and toe Supercopa twice at domestic level. Thiago has also won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, which some 21 year olds cannot say they have won. He looks to be a very creative midfielder, which is something the Old Trafford club could do with. He would also fit the club transfer policy because of his age. In total Alcantara has played in 124 matches for Barcelona and Barcelona B, scoring 11 goals. Its early days for his career, but he will be one of the best players in the world within the next few years.
Yann M’Vila of Stade Rennais (Getty Images)
The France international has been a target for Arsenal in recent months, which seems to have gone pretty dry of late. M’Vila is mainly a defensive midfielder, but can attack. With Michael Carrick not getting any younger, the 22-year-old could be a perfect replacement for Carrick, while doing a job with him in the meantime. The French midfielder has played a total of 130 matches for Rennes, scoring four goals and assisting in 3 goals. He certainly is a defensive player but has the ability to attack, if he has a clear run.
I feel he would do a job needed for Manchester United and could be a player the Red Devils need to challenge for the UEFA Champions League for years to come. Although M’Vila is only 22 years old and has not really achieved anything much in his career, he is a France international and with the right training and support, he could be a great player for years to come.
Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United (Getty Images)
The France international has had a blinding season at Newcastle United, and in the 3-0 demolition of Manchester United back in January, Cabaye was one of the most deadly players in attack. He has also played well for France in the Euro 2012 matches they had played. At 26 Yohan is no spring chicken, but the same age as Modric and considered to be entering his prime of his career and could deliver for the Red Devils for the next 4-5 seasons. I am not sure Cabaye would want to move clubs as he seems to be excited about entering the UEFA Europa League with Newcastle United. I definitely see him as a Manchester United player based on his ability alone. He really could add something to our already strengthened attack force, with the newly acquired Japanese playmaker, Shinji Kagawa.
Cabaye can play defensive midfielder also but is not shy on scoring goals. At Lille be made 253 appearances, scoring 39 goals and assisting in 35 goals. In his debut season at Newcastle, he played 38 matches, scored 5 goals and assisted in 9 goals. He would certainly be a great addition to the Old Trafford club and has the ability to perform both domestically and in europe.
Kevin Strootman of PSV Eindhoven (Getty Images)
The Dutch international has been linked to Manchester United 3-4 times since the end of the season. He has been likened to Roy Keane in his style of play, not that I am a fan of people comparing players to others, especially Keano, as there only ever was one Roy Keane!! He does look good for his age though. At only 22 he has established himself in the PSV Eindhoven team and has captained a few times for his club. He was also selected for the Netherlands in Euro 2012, although he never made an appearance. Strootman excites me as a player as he knows how to keep the ball, and is certainly not shy of scoring a goal of two.
The Holland midfielder started his career at Sparta Rotterdam, playing a total of 72 league matches and scoring 8 goals. He then played for Utrecht 14 times, scoring twice before hs switch to PSV Eindhoven. He has made 30 league appearances for PSV, scoring twice. Manchester United have a good relationship with PSV as this is where Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy came from, so they know how to produce some great, talented players.
So there we have it, six players that could make a difference at Manchester United. Now only time will tell. Sir Alex Ferguson normally tries to get his business done early if he can as he see’s a benefit that new players have a good pre-season with the rest of the squad, before starting the new campaign. It will certainly be an exciting summer for the fans, but hopefully it will be a more exciting season that may see Manchester United win title number 20!!!
By Paul Bienkowski