Manchester United must keep Paul Scholes for the new season.
Since boss Sir Alex Ferguson coaxed Scholes out of football's abyss, the Red Devils have been in almost invincible form, going on an eight-game winning streak in the Premier League—and opening up an eight-point gap ahead of Manchester City at the league's summit.
The United legend—who's just shy of making 700 appearances for the club—was man of the match on Sunday in the 2-0 win at home to Queens Park Rangers, and he's won two MoM awards this season from just nine league starts.
He'll be an important figure on Wednesday as they travel to Wigan Athletic, especially seeing as how United have been unbeaten in all of the 12 league games he has featured in this season, proving just how valuable he is to the team.
It's a fact that has been well recognised by Scholes' teammates, with midfield partner Michael Carrick hailing the "amazing" Scholes:
We all know how good he is and what he brings to the team on and off the pitch and around the training ground.
His performances, to come straight into the team and play like he did was amazing, really, and he's just carried on. He's got a lot of games left in him.
And Sir Alex—the man who brought him back—knew full well the impact he would have, saying after Scholes' characteristically sensational goal against QPR:
Do Manchester United Need to Keep Paul Scholes?
That was a typical Paul Scholes goal. He has scored three since he came back into the fold and we have only dropped two points.
You see the control of the game he has and the way he controlled the tempo of the game. That has never changed. At 37, he is still capable of that.
He is a great player and integral to what has happened over the past few weeks.
A lot of the Red Devils' recent success has been down to Scholes, and if they want to continue that next season, it's vital the club manage to keep their legend contracted for the new campaign.
And that's mainly because United have found the winning formula from last season with the midfield maestro back in the setup.
Along with the aforementioned Carrick, United have two deep-lying playmakers who can spread those long, diagonal balls with pinpoint accuracy.
This season, Scholes has hit on average 10 accurate long balls per game—better than any outfield player in the Premier League—while Carrick sprays around six each match.
That allows United to channel play forward whilst providing defensive protection, and it gives them license to get the full-backs forward and dictate play where they do it best—on the wings.
It also suits their up-tempo game, giving speedy wingers like Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani the chance to beat their full-back for pace off the ball—i.e., when they're running at their fastest—so they can get in behind the opposition's defence and create a goalscoring opportunity on it.
It's no coincidence that in the 12 games Scholes has been in the United team, Valencia has been at his vintage best, making five assists and scoring three goals, with Young making two assists and also scoring thrice, and even the now ineffective Nani grabbing an assist.
And it's no bit of luck that has seen United concede just three goals in the nine league matches Scholes has started.
Not only has the presence of Scholes as a deep-lying playmaker afforded United more defensive protection whilst allowing those on the wing to get forward, it has also brought out the best in Michael Carrick.
Because with Scholes now able to take over the lion's share of pinging those long balls up the pitch, Carrick has been given more time to read the play and make a name for himself as a true holding midfielder.
With Scholes' infamously poor tackling ability, he takes over the glamorous role of spraying Hollywood passes, while Carrick does what he loves doing the most—the dirty work.
And it's shown with the increasing number of tackles and interceptions Carrick has made with Scholes in the team, which in turn has seen United concede less shots, and ultimately less goals.
Of course, a high-quality replacement like Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder or Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Luka Modric are theoretically more viable long-term solutions, and more lucrative from a marketing viewpoint.
But Sir Alex Ferguson would have to adjust a system that is currently working so well to accommodate them, and he would also have to pay around £40 million for the privilege to do so.
And whilst players like Villarreal CF talisman Bruno Soriano or the forgotten Real Madrid man, Nuri Sahin, are also high-quality options which fit into United's system perfectly, they're just not the players who can play a Paul Scholes pass as often as the man himself can.
So to continue to get the best out of well-performing stars like Carrick, Valencia and Young at the moment—and keep the team scoring far more than they concede—if the player wants to stay for one more term, it's imperative that United cling on to Scholes for the new season.