Seen as one of the best defensive partnerships in Manchester United’s history, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand struck a bond together which became a cornerstone to United’s success over the past eight years but all good things must come to an end and unfortunately, it looks like this partnership is set to come to a conclusion.
Having made over 500 appearances for the club, it is looking increasingly likely that come September neither player will be wearing a United shirt.
Ferdinand looks set for a move to Cardiff where former fans favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently in charge. The move would make sense, especially with Ferdinand’s experience which could prove crucial to the growth of former England Under-21s captain and fellow centre back Steven Caulker.
Meanwhile with Vidic, sources have told me that he has bought a house in Madrid. Whether that means a move to either Madrid clubs is on the cards or he has just bought it as a holiday home isn’t known but his agent has placed a cloud of doubt over his future at United today when discussing a contract extension.
However, the loss of both players wouldn’t be seen as a huge loss to the club especially in its current situation. Neither have put in the performances they’re renowned for in the past 18 months and with both seemingly picking up needless injuries, it has been left to Jonny Evans to take charge of United’s back four.
Who would replace Nemanja and Ferdinand? United has plenty of options.
Evans has grown into one of the best centre backs in the Premier League in the past two seasons so he would be the obvious choice to replace Vidic in the left centre back role. We are then dealt with the dilemma of replacing Ferdinand.
Phil Jones would be ideal but his versatility to play three or four different positions on the pitch may hold Moyes back from giving him one specific position. Chris Smalling is showing potential but again, his ability to cover Rafael at right back is a key factor in him not nailing down the right centre back spot.
If we weren’t to buy anyone, it would be worth giving the likes of Michael Keane and Tom Thorpe a chance. Both have been very impressive for the Under-21s. Both have the potential of being top class players and it is just whether they can live up to that potential in such a short space of time – I’m not sure if they could.
Moyes may decide to look elsewhere. The perfect candidate is Eliaquim Mangala from Porto. Aged just 22, Mangala has amassed over 100 senior appearances for Standard Liege and his current club Porto.
At just over six foot, he is a tall domineering centre half similar to Vidic but it is his composure on the ball which tells me he is a perfect replacement for Ferdinand. He also has experience, something which is key for a player who would be thrown straight in at the deep end. Other suitable options would include Dortmund pair Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic, Benfica’s Nemanja Matic and Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane.
It seems that Porto would be more willing to sell Mangala at the right price which is reported to be around the £40 million mark which sounds expensive but for the quality he will bring to the team, is a relatively fair price.
With Patrice Evra also tipped to leave the club, United’s back four next season will be almost unrecognisable from the one in which Moyes inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Moyes will find a formula that works and hopefully bring the defensive solidarity that Everton was famous for to Old Trafford.