Last season, Manchester United were found wanting at the back on many occasions and too often had to rely on Robin van Persie to dig them out of trouble. Although defensive performances improved during the latter half of the season, it highlighted the delicate nature of United’s back line options. With two ageing stars, in Vidic and Rio, and two developing youngsters, in Smalling and Jones, United were left with only one centre half in his prime in Jonny Evans.
It is therefore unsurprising that United have been linked with a £17 million move for Argentinian centre half, Ezequial Garay. A rock at the heart of the Benfica’s defence, the 26 year old is at the height of his powers and, after reportedly agreeing a gentlemen’s agreement last month, is 1/6 on to join with Sky Bet.
Whilst most fans remain fixated over the possible arrival of Thiago Alacantra, other midfield targets seem to be looming large in David Moyes’ thoughts. As he prepares to take office on the 1st July, midfielders of various size and style have been linked to moves to Old Trafford and, armed with a sizeable war chest, Moyes seems keen to close the midfield black hole that Sir Alex allowed to open.
One such player on Moyes’ radar is Columbian international, Fredy Guarin, who is valued at £17m by his club, Inter Milan. Excelling in an advanced role for the Italian outfit, Guarin has attracted interest from Tottenham Hotspur and could well be attracted to play in the Premier League this summer. Despite being is a key player for Inter, the financial incentives offered by English clubs could well lure him from their grasps.
Following his arrival in 2012, Guarin became an integral part of Walter Mazzari’s midfield this season, playing 34 times and scoring 10 goals. Driving forward behind Cassano and Palacio, his shots were too hot for many keeper’s to handle and he ended up as Inter’s third top scorer.
Having already made 40 international appearances for Columbia, the 26-year-old is likely to appear at the 2014 World Cup, with Columbia currently sitting second behind Argentina in qualifying. During the tournament, Guarin will be looking to showcase his tough tackling, relentless running and tremendous technique behind Falcao and Co.
Whilst at his previous club, Porto, Guarin had to bind his time behind Raul Meireles. However, once the opportunity arose, Guarin soon made an impression on their domestic and European exploits and soon helped them win the UEFA Europa League trophy in 2010/11. Showing his European ability further this season, Guarin scored an impressive 4 Champions League goals this campaign.
Using his aggression, stamina and vision in an effective manner, Guarin has matured into a highly desirable, highly mobile midfielder. Equally omfortable in high tempo CL games and low tempo Serie A games, Guarin is clearly an intelligent player whose progression shows no sign of slowing down.
Standing at 6ft exactly, Guarin is an imposing midfielder who has traditionally played in centre or right midfield. As such, Guarin has primarily been labelled a box-to-box midfielder who can break up attacks as well as create them.
However, Guarin actually played at the head of Inter’s 3 man midfield this season. Playing as the link between midfield and attack, Guarin excelled when given the opportunity to attack the opposition back line. Lacking the subtlety of Mata and Cazorla, two of the Premier League’s most creative central attacking midfielders, Guarin instead relied more heavily on his physicality to force his way through the opposition before relying on others to make the magic happen.
Guarin is a hard-working midfielder who would have no problem adapting to the pace of the Premier League. Similar to Yaya Toure, Guarin has the ability to dominate through midfield, unlike any other player in United’s squad, and would be a valuable addition to the squad.
By all accounts, David Moyes has roughly £50 million to spend this summer, excluding the money spent on Zaha by his predecessor in January. As such, it is likely he will have £35 million left to spend if he successfully signs Thiago (1/5 on at the moment) and Guarin would therefore represent at least half of his remaining budget.
Putting all his cards on the table, it remains to be seen whether Moyes would be prepared to gamble away such a large amount of his kitty on one area of the squad. Just as a gambler might decide to spread his bets at intertops casino home, Moyes may well decide to spread the money more wisely throughout defence, midfield and attack.
Nonetheless, despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence that no midfielder was needed to improve the squad, it is clear that reinforcement are needed. Seeing as the likes of Modric and Martinez have already been proven to be outside United’s price range, Guarin may be the perfect mid to high-priced midfielder for Moyes’ squad.
As Manchester United seemingly move closer to the acquisition of creative talent, Thiago Alacantra, rumours have been bubbling that Manchester United are similarly close to striking a deal for the Netherland’s Under-21 Captain, Kevin Strootman. Valued at £15 million, Strootman is a well rounded midfielder who has developed greatly over the last few years at PSV. Tough in the tackle and useful with the ball, the Dutch enforcer could well be a much needed addition to United’s midfield.
As David Moyes readies himself to start his tenure at Old Trafford on the 1st July, current employees have been busy scouring the world for potential transfer targets. Jim Lawlor, United’s chief scout, has been in Israel watching the European Under 21’s Championship. In particular, he has been keeping a close eye on Spain’s captain, and Barcelona prodigy, Thiago Alacantra. Leading his team expectedly through the group stages, the impressive midfielder has certainly wet the taste buds.
Sir Alex Ferguson has left his successor with one of the finest run clubs in world football but one potential benefit of his departure is the possibility that Manchester United may once again sign a central midfielder. Having remarkably failed to address their issues in the middle of the park since signing the, since retired, Owen Hargreaves and, perpetual underachiever, Anderson in 2007, a new midfield has to be top of David Moyes’ wish list.
As soon as David Moyes was appointed as Sir Alex’s successor, Leighton Baines was immediately touted as his first port of call in the summer transfer market. Chosen in the PFA Team of the Year for the last two years in a row, the 28-year-old left back has established himself as one of the League’s finest footballers and worthy of a move to a Top Four club.
Whilst United have been finalising a deal for new signing Wilfied Zaha, United have also been extending their interest in 18 year old French centre half, Kurt Zouma. With just 18 months left on his current deal, the young Saint Etienne defender has been attracting interest from around Europe and has been watched on a number of occasions by Martin Ferguson in recent months.