With the retirement of United legend Paul Scholes at the end of last season, a gap has been left in the squad’s midfield. Admittedly the ginger prince did not find himself playing as many games in 2010-11 as he was used to in previous seasons, but even at 36-years-old he had the vision, creativity and guile to split a defence and pick a precision pass. Without the Salford born man for Sir Alex to call upon, a new playmaker is much needed, with three in particular linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer.
Chief executive David Gill has admitted that the club wants one more world-class player to join the squad before the transfer window closes, and it is widely believed to be a creative midfielder. Paul Scholes is unique in what he represented, achieved and offered The Reds over his 17 seasons at the Premier League champions before retiring his Manchester United jersey, but the gap needs to be plugged.
Of the current crop, Sir Alex will be happy that he has a number of strong midfielders at his disposal, but none of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher or Anderson have the ability to orchestrate play and create chances for the man in the Rooney jersey like their recently retired team-mate had.
Samir Nasri is entering the last year of his contract at Arsenal, and due to the Emirates’ side’s lack of silverware of late, and limited wage budget, the ex-Marseille man is eager for a move. Utilised by Arsene Wenger more as a wideman who cuts in-field, the France international does not have the experience of playing in the centre of the park that his potential predecessor did, and The Gunners are reluctant to sell to a Premier League rival. That said, he could be available for free next June.
Luka Modric is being courted by Chelsea, but Fergie stated his admiration for the Croatian earlier in the summer. Has the ability to dominate periods of possession for his team, and the craft to create chances for his strikers. Would fit into the United side nicely, but with Spurs reluctant to sell their star, even against his will, and rejecting a £27 million bid from Chelsea, the 25-year-old will be difficult to accquire.
The Wesley Sneijder transfer saga has dragged on throughout the summer, and still has not reached a conclusion one way or the other. The Netherlands international was thought to be potentially on his way out of Inter, as new coach Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactics are thought to ostracise the ex-Real Madrid man’s role, with a big money move to England touted.
With speculation that United were set to make the 27-year-old their highest earner, Sir Alex poured cold water on the rumours saying he was not interested in the player, but it is difficult to know what to believe. Sneijder is a mercurial talent and must be judged as one of the best in his position in the world. He played a talismanic role for the Italian club in 2009-10 in winning the Serie A and Champions League double, and is the main man for his nation.
A playmaker is needed, but obstacles lie in front of the potential purchase of the three main candidates. As good as all three are, whoever comes in to add creativity to the United midfield will be guaranteed one thing; he will have big boots to fill.
Gareth McKnight writes for the football blog Soccerlens.com.
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