Manchester United Transfers: Top 8 Alternatives to Joao Moutinho

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJuly 9, 2012

Manchester United Transfers: Top 8 Alternatives to Joao Moutinho

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    If you’re a Manchester United supporter, don’t worry if you guys don’t sign João Moutinho, because here are the top eight alternatives to the Portuguese midfielder.

    In 2008, David Moyes implored Everton to submit an £11.8 million bid for Moutinho, which was promptly rejected by Sporting Lisbon.

    Two years later, Porto managed to sign Moutinho for £9 million, and now they can sell him for upwards of £20 million. 

    How good is Moutinho? Saying he’s good would be understating the fact. He’s been an elite midfielder since his second professional season. People will talk about his passing range, but they often leave out his ability to win back the ball.  

8. Francesco Lodi, Catania, Age: 28

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    Francesco Lodi is a great example of why you should keep an open mind on players excelling at youth level.

    Lodi was world class amongst teenagers but lost his way when he came up against seasoned professionals. 

    It was touching to see Lodi surge back into relevance with some breathtaking performances last season. He led Catania in goals scored, goals created and shots created.

    It’s so sad to think what he could have been if he played like this throughout the majority of his career. 

7. Kevin Strootman, PSV Eindhoven, Age: 22

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    It’s bizarre that people have likened Kevin Strootman to Roy Keane. It’s like saying Shinji Kagawa plays like Hajime Hosogai. Keane doesn’t have the finesse passing of Strootman, and Strootman doesn’t have the never-say-die attitude of Keane.

    Put it this way: If Strootman was 5’7”, he’d be a No. 10. It’s such a waste playing Strootman in a deep-lying midfield role because his vision and ability to create something out of nothing should entail more productivity in a more offensive role.

    He doesn’t shy away from tackling, but who else is going to put in some tackles in PSV Eindhoven’s top-heavy midfield? Ola Toivonen certainly isn’t. Georginio Wijnaldum deferred most of his defensive duties to Strootman.

    Strootman isn’t superman. He can attack and defend against weaker teams like Roda, but he doesn’t have the same impact against better teams like Ajax.

    If he moves to a bigger team, he needs to demand to play as the No. 10 or accept the conversion to a defensive midfield role like Mark van Bommel did.

    Van Bommel had great goal-scoring instincts during his PSV’s days, but Strootman is infinitely a more talented player. It was disgraceful to watch Bert van Marwijk’s nepotism towards Van Bommel deny Strootman a chance to shine at Euro 2012. 

6. Joe Allen, Swansea City, Age: 22

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    If Joe Allen played at a big Premier League club, he’d be lauded as the next big thing.

    He won back possession 184 times but also created 46 shots while completing 91.2 percent of his passes. 

5. Beñat, Real Betis, Age: 25

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    Beñat is the complete package: He can score, create and win back possession. 

    His speciality is playing incisive passes from all sorts of angles.  

    He launches accurate diagonal passes from a deep-lying position. 

    He can dink his way past several opposing defenders and play a through ball to Rubén Castro. 

    The South Koreans learnt that Beñat could hit an inswinging cross from the left flank—as Fernando Torres scored a great header from one in a 4-1 win.

4. Lewis Holtby, Schalke, Age: 21

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    Lewis Holtby made the transition from playmaker to a deep-lying midfield role last season. By his own admission, to ESPN: “I enjoy the position because I can run my socks off.”

    Ideally, in a 4-2-3-1, the two pivots must have positional discipline. He’s not really a defensive midfielder because he tends to roam, whilst Jermaine Jones stays back. There were several instances when Holtby was caught upfield. It's like telling Ramires to stay back—it's not going to work long-term. 

    Holtby reads the play brilliantly, as evident with 3.1 interceptions per game. He managed to score six goals last season. If he can accumulate more assists, he will become a world-class box-to-box midfielder. 

3. Étienne Capoue, Toulouse, Age: 23

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    Étienne Capoue will have a Roy Keane-like presence in Manchester United’s midfield; he’s one of the most intimidating players in French football.

    He can be so dominant that talented attacking players become submissive when they come up against him. For example, Montpellier’s Younés Belhanda had virtually no influence in a 1-1 draw.

    Capoue does have some weak points: limited passing range, impulsive tackling and is thrown off his game when booked early.  

2. Yann M'Vila, Rennes, Age: 22

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    Yann M'Vila was the only midfielder in Ligue 1 to complete 10-plus tackles yet concede 0.9-or-lower fouls per game. This shows that he’s a consistent, efficient and reliable tackler.

    He’s precise with short and medium passes, but his long passing is an issue because he only completed 67.7 percent of long passes.

    His transfer stock has plummeted because of several reasons: so-so performances in Ligue 1, getting arrested for assault, the inability to play his best at Euro 2012 because he wasn’t fully fit. Not shaking Laurent Blanc's hand certainly didn't help his image. 

1. Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord, Age: 21

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    By this time next year, Jordy Clasie will be one of the most sought-after players in the summer transfer window.

    He’s a level-headed midfielder with high football intelligence that defies his years. He has the ability to play accurate through balls, but he won’t consistently thread Hollywood passes like Raúl García because Clasie knows that the opposing team can’t attack if his team keeps possession.

    Every meaningful attack Feyenoord string together comes through Clasie. Like João Moutinho, Clasie is busy without possession and is always snapping at the heels of his opponents.

    Many have likened Clasie to Xavi but Paul Scholes is a more accurate comparison.  


    Read Predicting Juve 2012-13 Starting XI

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