Prior to Michael Carrick‘s long-term injury, Manchester United were lacking in strength and depth in midfield. Following his injury, United find themselves stretched to the limit in terms of personnel and the season hasn’t even started.
Louis van Gaal turned to Darren Fletcher on tour in USA and played him in every game to help him improve his fitness. Fletcher rewarded Van Gaal’s confidence in him with some fine performances but burnout in the game against Liverpool was inevitable after five games in 14 days for a player who is still on the road to recovery from major surgery.
United don’t just want a new midfielder, they need one to join Ander Herrera as a holding player but will United sign one this summer?
Van Gaal decided not to pursue Toni Kroos or Cesc Fabregas for reasons only he will know, so there’s a real air of mystery as to what midfielder, if any, United are in for this summer.
Arturo Vidal is where most of the hope lies as the Chilean midfielder is the best in the business but concerns over the long-term condition of his knee after he ignored doctor’s advice to play on it at the World Cup seems to be delaying any potential move.
That being said, if going after players who have recently returned from serious injury, Kevin Strootman has to be the No.1 candidate. Van Gaal has a real affection for the Dutchman and there is a chain of thought that if he is going to take a risk on signing a midfielder after a serious injury, Strootman would be his choice.
However, if Van Gaal feels moves for either are currently off the cards, AC Milan’s Nigel de Jong could well be the perfect stop gap. His performances at the World Cup were very good and if Van Gaal wanted to sturdy up the midfield long enough to see how Strootman and Vidal progress until January, De Jong could be the man to do so.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of other midfielders who could be great buys. Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira could more than likely be lured away as the arrival of Toni Kroos could see him become a sidekick.
Meanwhile, William Carvalho is still more than available and many consider him to be one of the best young midfielders in Europe.
All in all, there are a host of midfielders who could dramatically improve United but it is anybody’s guess as to who, if any, will follow Herrera into Old Trafford this summer.