By Andy Jones
- We take a look at the possible additions to United’s midfield in the summer
Its fair to say in recent years, Manchester United’s business in the transfer market when it comes to midfielders has been more miss than hit.
Since the loss of probably the best midfield in the English game, of Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs, the club have tried a wealth of players to fill the admittedly large void they left behind.
Big fees have been paid on the likes of Anderson, Djemba-Djemba, Fellaini, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Depay, Kleberson and Liam Miller, who all failed to make a significant impact.
The only relative success in this period was Owen Hargreaves who was a crucial player during the 2008 season, but who’s career was sadly hampered by injuries.
Over the past few seasons, the signings have been more successful, with the Spanish pair of Herrera and Mata providing both goals and assists, and next year we will surely see the best of Paul Pogba.
What United need in the summer is a replacement for Michael Carrick, who enters the twilight of his career at Old Trafford.
Carrick is both a calming influence and fantastic passer of the ball, and players of his type are a rare commodity in the current game.
I feel we also need an out and out winger, as opposed to shoe horning forwards like Martial and Rashford into a wide position.
Below are some of the options linked with United, and how they could potentially benefit the team for the 2017/18 season.
The Colombian was signed by Real Madrid for 80 million Euros following his star turn in the 2014 World Cup.
Billed as the next ‘galactico’ at Real Madrid, he has failed to make the impact expected of him, and is not a regular starter, averaging only 25 games a season for Real.
It could be argued that United don’t really need another number 10, but the club have been linked with the player in recent weeks, with some sources even claiming James has already claimed the number 10 shirt at United, which would suggest Wayne Rooney’s time at Old Trafford is coming to an end.
There is no doubting the player’s ability, he scored twice in Real Madrid’s 4-0 win at the weekend, and scored in ‘El Clasico’ earlier in the month.
He is still young at only 25 years, but Real would surely want to recoup the majority of the fee they paid Monaco for him back in 2014.
Likelihood 6/10 potential impact 7/10
Perhaps less of a stellar signing, but more of a direct replacement for Carrick, is Eric Dier from Tottenham.
The Englishman has been a key player for both club and country over the past two seasons, and can play in a variety of roles in midfield or in defence.
Dier perhaps lacks the physical presence of previous Mourinho holding midfielders like Matic and Essien, but is proven in the Premier league and would hit the ground running.
The difficulty in acquiring his signature would surely be Spurs reluctance to sell, and the huge fee which Daniel Levy would command for any sale.
Likelihood 4/10 Potential Impact 6/10
The 24-year-old Italian international currently plays in France for Paris St Germain and is one of the most sought after young players in European football.
He started his early career in Italy, helping Pescara gain promotion to Serie A, before a move to Paris in the summer of 2012.
His style of play has gained comparison with Xavi and Andrea Pirlo, and he is more of a playmaker than a defensive holding midfielder.
With United’s current lack of goals with the exception of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, perhaps a more creative option in midfield would interest Mourinho. Whether a midfield three of Herrera, Pogba and Verratti would work, remains to be seen.
Any transfer for Verratti would surely command a huge fee, and would bring interest from Europe’s biggest clubs, with Barcelona who face a rebuilding job in midfield with the loss of Xavi and Iniesta coming to the end of his career at the Nou Camp, also interested.
Likelihood 4/10 Potential Impact 8/10
The Brazilian was a key player for Jose Mourinho during his second spell in charge at Chelsea, helping the club to the Premier League title in 2015/16.
The 28-year-old can play out wide on either side, and is a set piece specialist, chipping in with 7 goals so far this season for Chelsea.
He is a player which Mourinho trusts, hardworking and a consistent performer, and would be a good addition to United’s forward line.
Chelsea signed him for £30m back in 2013 and he signed a new contract at the club at the end of 2016, so he wouldn’t come cheap.
Likelihood 6/10 Potential Impact 6/10
The 22-year-old Spaniard has become a key player for Diego Simeone’s Athletico side as they once again push for success in La Liga and the Champions League.
Saul came through Real Madrid’s youth academy, before moving to rivals Athletico in 2008.
He has now made 86 appearances for the club, scoring 12 goals from a defensive or central midfield position. He also made his international debut this season and would link up well with fellow Spaniards Mata, De Gea and Herrera.
Likelihood 5/10 Potential Impact 7/10
Another key player from Monaco’s exciting young team is Frenchman Tiemoue Bakayoko.
The 22 year old is now in his third season at the French club, who are on the verge of a Ligue 1 title, and still have a glimmer of hope in the Champions League semi final 2nd leg against Juventus.
He fits the mould of a Mourinho holding midfielder, strong, quick and powerful, he would be the ideal player to allow Pogba to play with more freedom.
As with many of Monaco’s hot young prospects, Europe’s elite clubs are monitoring his situation closely, so any potential transfer would be hugely competitive and a fee well over £60 million would be required.
Likelihood 7/10 Potential Impact 8/10