It is no secret that the area of the field Manchester United are in most need of strengthening is in the centre of midfield. This has been the case for many years, even in the latter days of Sir Alex’s leadership, though at that time the awesome attacking talent the club possessed compensated for a severe lack of talent in the middle of the park.
After Chelsea completed the signing of ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona on Thursday, and hence ending any hope new United boss Louis van Gaal had of landing the Spaniard, a bitter taste was left in the mouths of many of the United faithful.
This is not just because of Fabregas’ decision to sign for the oil-rich Londoners. Chelsea were able to directly replace stalwart Frank Legend barely a week after he announced he was departing the club. In stark contrast, United are yet to properly replace midfield legends Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
Sir Alex got away with failing to replace them, with his side remaining successful until his retirement. But after the disastrous season that ensued under David Moyes, the summer transfer window needs to be one of the biggest in the history of the club if United are to get back into the top four. Central midfield is THE priority for the powers at be.
If United manage to capture any of the talented midfielders below, they’ll surely be a great deal closer to resolving their midfield crisis.
The young German has been a name on the lips of many after another stellar season at Bayern Munich. He has been linked with some of Europe’s top clubs since the turn of the year, with United rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services. The playmaker could be tempted to join up with former manager Louis van Gaal in Manchester, but the lure of Champions League football at Real Madrid could be the factor that influences his final decision. Kroos’ creative talents would certainly be vital in van Gaal’s new-look engine room.
One transfer rumour that has been gathering pace in the past week is Bastian Schweinsteiger’s potential move to Old Trafford. Bayern boss Pep Guardiola is apparently not keen on the experienced German because, if rumours are to be believed, he doesn’t move the ball quick enough. It would seem mad for the midfield general to leave the team where he has spent most of his career, but he may have no option if he doesn’t figure in Guardiola’s plans. At 29 years of age, Schweinsteiger is in the prime of his career and like teammate Toni Kroos, he could be attracted to once again work under former manager Louis van Gaal.
Juventus star Arturo Vidal is a player that any fan would want to see lining up for their club. Arguably one of the most complete midfielders in world football, the Chilean international is wanted all over Europe because of his box-to-box, tough-tackling playing style. Quality players of that mould are a rare breed these days, and any move for Vidal would certainly have the Bianconeri commanding a hefty fee. He has publicly announced his desire to stay in Italy in recent months, but a big-money move to Manchester would surely tempt the South American, with Louis van Gaal recently revealing his admiration for the playmaker.
He has been described as “the one that got away” by United fans, who have seen the former Red Devil progress into one of the best midfielders in Europe at Italian champions Juventus. When Pogba left United in 2012, he did so because of limited first team opportunities. He has got those opportunities at Juventus, and has blossomed in the engine room alongside Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal. Despite having left United in unsavoury circumstances, the Reds are rumoured to want to resign the player, but will have to spend in excess of £60 million to get their man. Whether the 21-year-old would be willing to return to the club where he wasn’t given a proper chance remains to be seen.
Atletico Madrid have enjoyed a phenomenal season, breaking Real Madrid and Barcelona’s stranglehold on the La Liga title and reaching only their second Champions League final. Much of their success was down to the skill and tenacity of players such as Koke. The 22-year-old is a midfielder with barrels of potential, and is known for his range of passing and playmaking. A potential move to United has been mooted, but Barcelona appear to be leading the chase for his signature as new boss Luis Enrique looks to replace Chelsea-bound Cesc Fabregas. But don’t be surprised to see Koke remain at the Calderon for at least another season, with Atletico manager Diego Simeone desperate to keep hold of his star men. Expect the attacking midfielder to shine for reigning champions Spain at the World Cup.
Young Dutchman Kevin Strootman has enjoyed a solid first season at AS Roma, despite picking up a serious knee injury back in March that unfortunately ruled him out of the World Cup. The 24-year-old is a box-to-box midfielder that could prove to be a fitting piece to Louis van Gaal’s jigsaw were he to join United. Van Gaal knows the former PSV man well owing to his duties as the Netherlands boss, and could be tempted to make a move. The latest rumours are that Roma are open to selling for around the £30 million mark, and he is certainly a player that would impress United fans were he to be brought to Old Trafford.
Who do you think would be the best signing to solve Manchester United’s central midfield problems? Comment in the section below.