Manchester United’s worrying reliance on Michael Carrick this season has been horribly exposed in the last three matches.
While his absence was certainly not the sole reason Man United have slumped to a three game losing streak, it’s no coincidence a loss of form has happened since he has been injured.
For football purists, Carrick has long been an influential player for United but only in the last few seasons has that become such a key aspect of the side.
Louis van Gaal‘s admiration for his coach-like abilities on the pitch and tactical intelligence saw him immediately named vice-captain upon return from injury earlier this year and without him in the team, United have lost their rhythm.
Passing has become ingenuous, monotonous and predictably blunt. With Daley Blind also sidelined for substantial periods this season, United have too often found themselves without a natural anchor midfielder which is such a crucial position in van Gaal’s system.
United need to strengthen in that area, there are no two ways about it. Any team who wants to challenge on all fronts cannot rely on a 33-year-old and with that in mind, have United already identified the perfect replacement for Carrick?
Gundogan has since played one more game for Dortmund and completed 90 minutes.
If some reports are correct, Ilkay Gundogan is joining Manchester United this summer and when you compare the German midfielder with Carrick, there are lots of similarities to be drawn.
Most importantly, WhoScored stats show that of his 26 appearances for Borussia Dortmund this season, Gundogan has played 18 as a defensive midfielder.
Prior to his injuries, Gundogan was considered one of the best central midfielders in Europe and having now had lots of minutes under his belt, his form is continuing to edge back to where he was previously.
Could Gundogan be the perfect replacement for Carrick at United?