With the possible departure of both Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes in the summer, Sir Alex may well have to invest heavily in our midfield in the summer. It seems unlikely that Hargreaves will be offered a new contract, considering his devastating knee injuries and Scholes has yet to decide whether to play another year or hang up his boots. Considering this, Sir Alex has been quick to reward Anderson, Carrick & Fletcher with new contracts this season in order to ensure there is no mass exodus of midfielders in the summer.
If both Hargreaves and Scholes do decide to hang up their boots, it is most certain that the Reds will have to enter the market for at least one central midfielder, who will help reinvigorate the midfield with passion, power and determination. Although we have the very promising pair of Paul Pogba & Ryan Tunnicliffe in the Reserves, they are not quite yet ready to enter the first team fold but could replace Darron Gibson in the squad who may well not have his current contract extended (which expires in 18 months time).
As Bryan Robson & Roy Keane have shown, you need to be one hell of a player to succeed as a central midfielder at Old Trafford (as Kleberson & Djemba-Djemba know only too well) but here are some of Sir Alex’s box-to-box summer transfer targets:
The Experienced Options
Having earned a recent recall to the England squad, the charismatic 30 year-old is enjoying a renaissance in his career with some exceptional performances this season. Single-handedly carrying a poor West Ham side, the box to box midfielder has impressed many with his combative tackles and eye-catching goals. Having begun his career at Charlton Athletic, the Englishman made 145 appearances and was awarded the 03/04 PFA Young Player of the Year Award before sealing a £10m move to Jose Mourinho’s first Chelsea side. However, with the arrival of Tiago and Jarosik, Parker struggled to win a place in the squad and made only 15 appearances during his time at Stamford Bridge. Following such a setback, Parker has slowly returned to the peak of his game, having made the transition to a big club a little too early and may well be looking to prove himself at the highest level. He is the subject of a reported £8m bid from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer and wouldn’t come cheap considering his age, but for such a fee Sir Alex may well get a player who can add some much-needed bite to our midfield fold.
A Point to Prove?
With the ability to take corners that are worth £10m alone, the Scottish midfielder has been the lynchpin of Blackpool’s attacking attractive football this season. As their captain and set-piece taker, Adam has impressed many suitors with a wonderful left foot that can produce balls even the great Paul Scholes would be proud of. Without possessing the athletic build of the typical Premier League footballer, the creative central midfielder has shown that whatever he lacks in speed, he more than compensates with his passing ability and intelligent play. A few years younger than Scottish captain, Darren Fletcher, the midfielder is most certainly on the market in the summer but, according to Ian Holloway, will only be allowed to go to a big club. All-in-all, considering his age, ability and superb performances against us when we played Blackpool, Sir Alex may well be tempted to bring in a fellow Scot and polish this rough diamond, because if any club can give him the physical ability to match his technical ability, it is most certainly Manchester United.
Having made his European debut for Everton at just 16 1/2, Rodwell has been touted, for many years, as one of England’s most promising youngsters. Initially touted as a central defender, the athletic 6ft 2″ youngster was seen as a natural successor to Rio Ferdinand but has primarily played in the middle of the park during his 88 appearances for Everton. Thanks to his imposing build and superb fitness, Rodwell has the ability to control games with his direct running but needs to improve his final ball if he is to take his game to the next level. Valued at £20m, and a possible target of Real Madrid, the Evertonian is most certainly not the finished product but instead a future star but as a long term admirer, we will have to wait and see if Sir Alex is looking for short term results or long term potential, only time will tell.
A composed, creative midfielder, Henderson was handed Sunderland’s #10 Shirt in recognition of his immense natural ability which has seen him hailed as a technically gifted midfielder. His touch, vision and passing ability is reminiscent of the style more likely to be seen in Seville than the Stadium of Light and is what made him England’s hottest property during a two month period before Christmas. However, Sunderland’s young central midfielder has recently struggled for form having been outplayed during his England debut, against France, in December. Since then, he has still been linked with a possible move in the summer but personally I believe he is not quite ready to move to a club such as Manchester United.
Ready to Step Up Yet?
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
Having only been born in August 1993, Southampton’s most recent Academy prospect wasn’t even around when Manchester United won their first Premier League title. Nonetheless, he is already a standout performer in League One this season, with Southampton, and earned himself a call up to the England U21 squad. His pace, power and precision (all of which is crammed inside a tiny 5ft 7″ figure) has attracted interest from Arsene Wenger, who sees him as a future midfield maestro. However, it has been widely reported that Sir Alex has got the upper-hand on Wenger, having started talks with the right people following our FA Cup trip to Southampton and although he would not come cheap at £10m, I think Sir Alex is keen to wrap up a deal having already missed out previously on lower league talents, such as Bale, Walcott and Ramsey.
17 Year-Old Prodigy
Missed His Chance?
Ever since it became general knowledge that Sir Alex sent the promising Belgian midfielder a letter, regarding his recovery from a serious injury, people have linked Manchester United with the explosive centre mid from Standard Liege. A regular in the exciting and extremely youthful Belgium national team (along with Fellaini, Hazard & Lukaka) the midfielder is a typical box-to-box player who is equally adapt setting up a goal, as he is preventing one. While still under Sir Alex’s radar, he may be deemed too much of a risk following a succession of long injury lay-offs which have limited him to only 95 appearances, for his club, since 2006 – even though he was made captain at just 19 in 2008. Undoubtedly, Defour has the drive and vigour which would make him very suitable to the Premier League but with the problems Sir Alex has had with both Owen Hargreaves & Anderson, he may leave it to another big club to take a gamble on the talented 22 year-old.
A Leader on the Pitch, But too Injury Prone?
If you were in charge, at Old Trafford, who would you sign?