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The Perfect Solution At Man Utd
Footytubeblog (Blog) 3 years ago
Last week, the Daily Mirror released a rather speculative and factually lacking article suggesting that the Manchester United squad had become tired of the Wayne Rooney transfer sideshow.

The evidence to suggest the England international's Old Trafford team-mates now have the hump with him remains thin, but it's understandable how such a hypothesis has developed from murmurings in a hot and stuffy news room into a printed story - the 27 year old's unique transfer situation has overshadowed the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, and the coronation of David Moyes as his rightful successor to the Old Trafford thrown, with his first official interview as Red Devils boss dominated by questions regarding Rooney's immediate future.

Even the Scot must be rather tired of the intense media focus on the wantaway forward, as he quite frankly has equally as pressing issues this summer. The new United boss is yet to secure the transfer of fellow Evertonian Leighton Baines, as he argues with his former employers over an acceptable fee, whilst the fates of the expected to depart Luis Nani, Patrice Evra and Anderson are yet to be confirmed.

All are head-scratchers for various reasons, however, Moyes' scalp will most likely be red-raw by now as he continues to contemplate the future of the Premier League champions' midfield. Rooney's departure could instigate a change in tact and formation, whilst finding a suitable partner for Michael Carrick has been a recurring dilemma that the Scot's famous predecessor failed to solve, excluding convincing Paul Scholes to make a u-turn on his first retirement in 2011.

It's unlikely the ginger maestro will change his mind again, having gone out on a high, relatively unnoticed due to the hysteria surrounding Ferguson and Wayne Rooney, and now virtually immobile on the pitch at the age of 38. Meanwhile, Sir Alex over the years has come close to but ultimately failed in signing John Obi Mikel, Wesley Sneijder and Moussa Dembele, who could have all in their own ways provided a unique dynamic in the middle of the park for the Red Devils, had fate decided on a different course.

Now relying upon marmite-effect-midfielder Tom Cleverley, the over-weight Anderson, centre-back-by-trade Phil Jones and a grumpily-pushed-back Wayne Rooney to put in shifts in United's engine room, whilst Darren Fletcher remains in recovery, Moyes will have to come up with a solution to Manchester United's midfield crisis this summer, before it is exposed by a re-buffed and re-invested Chelsea and Manchester City, who already don greater quality in the middle of the park.

Could the answer be Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara, who recently dazzled continental scouts with a perfect hatrick for Spain in the final of the Under 21's European Championship against Italy? The son of former World Cup winner Mazinho -part of the 1994 Brazil squad - comes with huge pedigree and an abundance of potential, but is he what the Red Devils need in the middle of the park?

The 22 year old is said to be the human epitome of the philosophical ethos of the Catalans' famous La Masia academy, with a mixture of passing ability, movement, dribbling and ball control at the core of his game. In La Liga this season, Alcantara finished up with two goals and five assists in 27 appearances, and although the level of end product is impressive for a central midfielder, it's only one piece of the Alcantara jigsaw. More importantly, and more impressively in my opinion, the young Spaniard has a pass completion ratio of 91.8%, whilst also averaging 65 passes per game.

It would certainly replace the cultured boot of Paul Scholes, who sparked Manchester United's most successful and stylish midfield partnership in their recent history alongside Michael Carrick, and Alcantara's rare transfer situation makes this season the best opportunity to lure him away from the Spanish sun. Due to a clause his contact based on first team appearances, the Spaniard's minimum release fee has dropped to just £17million, which will undoubtedly prove to be an absolute steal a few years down the line.

But is he what David Moyes desperately needs at this moment in time? Any youngster would struggle to adapt so readily to the English top flight, but Alcantara will find the situation much harder due to his limited strength and height, measuring in at just 5 foot 8. It doesn't allow for much protection of United's back four, which as a department is also undergoing somewhat of a transition period, and was last season trumped in terms of goals conceded by divisional rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as Everton. Alcantara is quite clearly an exceptional player for his age, but to use an old adage, can he do it on a rainy Wednesday night away at Stoke?

His reduced price tag suggests that United should make a bid no matter what, but there are other candidates on the market who are better equipped to have an immediate effect, ahead of a Premier League season where nothing is certain.

If Moyes attempts to replicate the Scholes-Carrick midfield dynamic as closely as possible, Yohan Cabaye remains the best option. The Frenchman has clearly outgrown his surroundings at Newcastle whilst the club have faltered in the league this year, and would provide the steady supply of goals and assists from midfield United's retiring icon has done for the best part of a decade.

At the age of 27, the Magpies man is at the peak of his footballing powers, but could step up his game further if surrounded by greater quality in comparison to the roster at St. James's Park. He's on the short side, also 5 foot 8, but unlike Alcantara comes with defensive awareness and greater anticipation.
There are other candidates out there this summer, available for cheaper than Cabaye's £25million price tag, and with further potential, such as Christian Eriksen and Kevin Strootman, but the France international's two years of experience in England, with a proven and solid track record to boot, put him above his continental counterparts in the 'deep-lying playmaker' category, whilst the likes of Luka Modric and Cesc Fabregas remain out of the Red Devils' reach.

But the verdict that David Moyes must find a midfielder who first and foremost centres his game around ability on the ball is hardly unanimous. Many believe that Carrick's talents, being statistically one of the best forward passers in Europe, is enough creative input in the middle of the park, and the Premier League champions would be better off with a more defensively sound element to protect the England man, in addition to United's occasionally creaky defense.

The obvious candidate is Everton's Marouane Fellaini, who is not only well acquainted with David Moyes already, but has also just come to the end of his strongest season to date in England, recording 11 goals and 5 assists, mostly deployed as a supporting striker. But his utility appears to have put off potential suitors, including the United gaffer, who are unsure whether the Belgian has what it takes to hack it in either an attacking or defensive role at a Champions League club. Furthermore, the 25 year old puts in good shifts in the tougher contests, but is often found wanting against lesser opponents - no doubt a symptom of his rather questionable attitude.

Fellaini's £23million price-tag also remains a pressing issue that is yet to be overcome, and although he can claim considerable Premier League experience, there are other options available this summer. Bayer Leverkusen's Lars Bender could prove the perfect fit for United, with great stamina, work rate and strength, adding some mettle to the midfield, whilst also possessing well-drilled technique on the ball, recording three goals and six assists in the Bundesliga this season.

Similarly, with the announcement that all of Roma's squad are effectively up for sale as the club's financial crisis worsens, Moyes could turn his attentions to long-term United target Daniele De Rossi. The combative Italian is a master of the dark side of the game, perhaps known best for his tough tackles and loose-flying elbows, but he is also regarded as one of the most talented central midfielders in Europe for his abilities on the ball.

Had he not remained so ferociously loyal to his only club, De Rossi would have attained much more than two Coppa Italias at club level, however, he is also a World Cup winner with Italy, which is a much better representation of De Rossi's pedigree. At the age of 29 however, and with a price tag in excess of £30million, it may all have come too late for the midfielder.

Plenty of options for Moyes, but a clear solution is hard to determine. Every candidate has their advantages and their drawbacks, and the Scot will have to answer some questions first. Does he need a passing midfielder or a tackling midfielder? Does he need experience or longevity? And how much is he willing to spend?

Getting the call right will be crucial, and much will depend upon his own vision of the first team over the next few years. But my gut instinct remains that the United gaffer must do whatever he can to bring Alcantara to Old Trafford. He may not fit in perfectly, and his lack of experience and phsyicality may cost the Red Devils in the short-term as they undergo a difficult title defense campaign, yet the Spaniard remains the type of player to build a team, a legacy and an ethos around.

At £17million, Moyes can secure the Red Devils' future with a single, inexpensive purchase, and although he has a long way to go, with the possibility that the Scot will be long gone before the club begin to fully reap the benefits, from a footballing and business perspective, the potential deal is a no-brainer in my opinion.

Written by Christy Maylan

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.

Somere (Portmore Utd) 3 years ago
I would take Thiago and Lars Bender of the others. Thiago will give us a creative force and flair in the center which would decrease our reliance on the wings. Bender reminds me of Hargreaves. I think he is one of the best Box-to-Box midfielders available. Loads of energy, can defend, can pass, not afraid to take on other players, can shoot from distance as well as play RB and RM if needed. Bender can also play alongside Carrick or play in Carrick's position
Honeybabymwah (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I was probably only one to called Sir Alex to retire and he finally did. The last thing I want to see in United midfield is Michael Carrick. I rather have Oscar Pistorious playing instead of him both club and country to be brutally honest. The lad from Barca reserve does not make any sense to be come United first choice if United should playing in Europe 2014-15 season. Winning the League with NOT double over top half teams apart from semi-relegated Liverpool.

I want the player from Barclays Premier League this summer. I do not want to see any more potential or latent lads coming in. United first eleven need six or seven top players if there's ambition to qualify for Europe. Never even consider bringing younker from 21s albeit they are Champions in the country. I don't mind at all with appointment of the new manager but even if I am Only one bloke on earth to say this, I am delighted because I want Wayne Rooney at United and I would do anything to keep him
Kayteo (90m haircut) 3 years ago
.... What?

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