Manchester United: Top 10 Realistic Playmaker Signings
Unless Paul Scholes wants to imitate Sir Stanley Matthews’ longevity, the 37-year-old is just a short-term option.
Manchester United need a playmaker for the future.
There’s no denying his talent, but is he Owen Hargreaves in disguise?
Daniel Levy’s disdain for Manchester United is likely to lead to Luka Modrić going to Chelsea or any club not named Manchester United.
With that said, here are the top 10 playmakers Manchester United could realistically sign in the summer.
10. Hiroshi Kiyotake, Cerezo Osaka, Age: 22
Japan are quietly building up a squad filled with athletic, nippy and technically skilled footballers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Hiroshi Kiyotake was a key component in Levir Culpi's midfield and was the only Cerezo Osaka player named in the 2011 J. League Best XI.
With the exception of Leandro Domingues, Kiyotake was a class above the large majority of his opponents.
His ability to make smart passes is a testament to his vision and technique. He's played five games for Japan and he's already provided four assists.
Former Cerezo player Shinji Kagawa has become one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga.
Kiyotake is poised to be become the next illustrious alumnus of Cerezo.
9. Marvin Martin, Sochaux, Age: 24
When you watch Sochaux, you can't help but notice the talented duo of Marvin Martin and Ryad Boudebouz.
With the constant appraisal of Eden Hazard, who is a world-class talent, someone like Martin slips under the radar.
Martin is constantly looking to play forward passes, which explains why he accumulated 17 assists last season.
This season, he's created 40 shots for his teammates and completed 86 long balls.
8. Ander, Athletic Bilbao, Age: 22
When Ander was at Real Zaragoza, he was still raw and inefficient.
Trust Marcelo Bielsa to completely turn Ander into a class act. Also, that video is outdated—you should have seen the game he had against Barcelona.
He was brave enough to play a few long balls, put in a few tackles and scored a peach of a goal.
That day, Athletic Bilbao were unlucky to not beat Barça.
Ander is part of the reason why Bielsa's Bilbao are fourth in La Liga.
7. Ki Sung-Yeung, Celtic, Age: 23
Ki Sung-Yeung is a poor man's version of Steven Gerrard, which should be taken as a compliment.
The 23-year-old South Korean brings calmness to Celtic's midfield, possesses an expansive passing range and is a threat from long range.
Talking about Celtic, top clubs should take a serious look at Victor Wanyama, who fits the build for a prototypical Premier League player.
6. João Moutinho, Porto, Age: 25
Some of João Moutinho's passes are a throwback to the days of Rui Costa at Fiorentina.
Unlike Hulk, Moutinho is replaceable and being a high valued asset, Porto would be more willing to sell him at a negotiable price.
Plus, Porto have Steven Defour as an instant replacement for Moutinho.
5. Gylfi Sigurðsson, Hoffenheim (on Loan at Swansea City), Age: 22
Gylfi Sigurðsson was on the outside looking in at Hoffenheim and Brendan Rodgers was a genius for taking advantage of the situation.
So far at Swansea, Sigurðsson has a 90 percent success rate when attempting long-range passes.
He's also provided 18 key passes whilst scoring three goals in seven Premier League games.
Meanwhile, Liverpool spent £20 million on Jordan Henderson, who has been average to below par thus far.
4. Ivan Rakitić, Centre Midfielder, Sevilla, Age: 23
Sevilla snared Ivan Rakitić for just €1.5 million after being one of the best players at Schalke.
Why such a low fee? Schalke thought Rakitić would sign a contract extension even though he was running down the last few months of his contract.
When he didn't, the German club had to panic sell and Sevilla took advantage.
He's a pass-first midfielder and one who can spread the play and create something out of nothing. He's created 57 shots for his teammates whilst completing 81.2 percent of his passes.
3. Kevin Strootman, PSV Eindhoven, Age: 22
Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong are cultured footballers, but Kevin Strootman is cultured and sophisticated.
Strootman can deal with the physical element of football and he excels technically. A lovely passer and smart player, he is composed in front of goal and controls the tempo well.
In a 3-1 win over Rapid Bucureşti, Strootman dominated the midfield and provided two assists.
This season, he has scored six goals and provided 13 assists in 33 games.
2. Keisuke Honda, CSKA Moscow, Age: 25
What surprised me was the low transfer fee—only £11.6 million, which is peanuts to Premier League clubs.
If the transfer fee is only £11.6 million, Manchester United must bid for Honda because the Japanese is not only an incisive passer and set-piece specialist, but he's going to drive up merchandise.
1. Christian Eriksen, Ajax, Age: 20
Christian Eriksen's feel for the game is unrivaled for someone of his tender age. His football IQ is off the charts, but you'd expect that from an Ajax product.
He's looked great when I've seen him in the Eredivisie, but he was mediocre in the UEFA Champions League.
Against Manchester United, he didn't dominate, but you could see glimpses of Eriksen magic.
He's only 20, so his best years are ahead of him.
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