Manchester United Transfer News: How Moura, Moutinho, Eriksen Affect Red Devils

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIJuly 17, 2012

Manchester United Transfer News: How Moura, Moutinho, Eriksen Affect Red Devils

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    Manchester United already have one of the strongest squads in the English Premier League, regardless of who else they sign in the summer transfer window.

    They have already acquired Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund and Nick Powell from Crewe to join the likes of Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes next season and are believed to be interested in several other prospects.

    The likes of Lucas Moura, Joao Moutinho and Christian Eriksen have all been linked with a move to Old Trafford over the transfer window, but how will these players affect United's midfield and attack should they sign on with the Red Devils?

    What would United's midfield look like? Who would assume a starting role in the squad and who would be forced to start as a substitute for the Red Devils?

    Read on to see how United's latest transfer targets could affect the Red Devils next season.

Current Squad

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    Below is the full first team squad as seen on Manchester United's official website. I haven't included the goalkeepers because United aren't interested in signing any goalkeepers and thus David de Gea's position at the back is safe.

     

    Defenders

    Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Rafael da Silva

     

    Midfielders

    Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverly, Darren Fletcher, Nick Powell, Shinji Kagawa 

     

    Attackers

    Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda, Bebe


Realistic Squad

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    Having said that, there are players that will not make a starting side for Manchester United in a match of any significance, so let's have a look at what I'll call a realistic squad for the Red Devils.

    What's interesting to note here is the depth of talent that exists across midfield for United. I've culled the first team down squad down to nine players and whilst putting in the likes of Anderson and Nick Powell might seem somewhat audacious, even seven players in midfield is incredible squad depth.

    And this is without bringing any new talent to Old Trafford, such as the players United are rumored to be interested in over the summer transfer window. Let's take a look at those players now.

     

    Defenders

    Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Johnny Evans, Nemanja Vidic, Rafael da Silva

     

    Midfielders

    Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverly, Nick Powell, Shinji Kagawa

     

    Attackers

    Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck

Latest Rumors

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    Whilst a plethora of players have been linked with potential moves to Old Trafford over the summer transfer window, I've taken four key players here that would have an impact on Manchester United's starting side for next season.

     

    Lucas Moura

    United are believed to be interested in 19-year-old Lucas Moura, who currently plays for Sao Paulo, according to ESPN Soccernet. Any deal with the youngster is expected to cost the Red Devils upwards of £25 million and potentially closer to £35 million.

     

    Christian Eriksen

    After starring for Ajax during last season, Christian Eriksen is reportedly interested in joining the Red Devils and for only £20 million, would represent a stellar signing for United. According to the Daily Mail, Eriksen wants to know if United are interested in him before deciding on his future.

     

    Joao Moutinho

    United are also rumored to be tracking Joao Moutinho, though it appears they will have to beat Tottenham Hotspur to land the £30 million rated midfielder according to Click Manchester. With Luka Modric destined to end up at Real Madrid, Spurs could spend the money to get Moutinho, though United do have the upside of Champions League football and a stronger squad.

     

    Leighton Baines

    Moving away from midfielders and attackers for a moment, United's other big-name rumor is that of Leighton Baines who is believed to be the subject of a £10-15 million bid by the Red Devils. Baines is arguably the best left-back in the country and is viewed as a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra, according to the Daily Mail

    Let us examine then how these respective players would impact Manchester United's squad for next season should they sign on with the Red Devils.

Starting XI Including Moura

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    Notes and impact

    With the addition of Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United will likely make some changes with the traditional 4-4-2 that we've seen employed at Old Trafford for so long now. I've gone with a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-5-1 (essentially the same formation) to accommodate for Kagawa and his attacking nature.

    Tom Cleverly also gets his spot back in the starting side, with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick likely to share the responsibility for the other central midfielder role. With the depth of attacking talent in the side, a holding midfielder is crucial for United and Cleverly is the man to fill the role—a player that would have featured much more last season were it not for injuries.

    The addition of Moura means that Manchester United need to drop one of their attacking options back to the bench and I've gone with Ashley Young here.

    Young was always going to compete with Nani for the starting position on the left-hand side considering that Antonio Valencia has no left foot, but the addition of Moura means that one of those three do have to make way for the talented 19-year-old.

    For me, if Moura is signed by Manchester United, then expect him to start next season. The Red Devils will likely have to pay upwards of £30 million to secure the teenager—a figure they're unlikely to shell out for a substitute.

    The big concern with this lineup is the lack of size that Moura has, meaning that should he attempt to play like a traditional winger, he could be quite ineffective on the left flank. That's why I've played Moura not as far down the pitch as Valencia will probably go and with Kagawa at the attacking central midfielder position, United will not suffer a shortage of attacking options.

Starting XI Including Moutinho

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    Notes and impact

    Should Joao Moutinho make his way to Manchester United, there would be far less of an impact on the squad than if they acquired Lucas Moura. Mountinho would most likely feature in the centre of the pitch alongside the holding midfielder of Tom Cleverly or Michael Carrick.

    I think Paul Scholes makes way for Moutinho here, because United do still need the holding capabilities of Carrick or Cleverly in their side given the attacking talent. Nani also gets the nod over Ashley Young on the left wing, though expect the trio of Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia to be used in tandem throughout the season.

    As I mentioned, the only player that this really affects is Paul Scholes. Scholes would make way for Moutinho in the middle of the pitch given that Carrick and Cleverly will assume the other central midfielders role between the two of them.

    Nani is also likely to benefit from the acquisition of Moutinho over Moura, as he will find himself in the starting lineup on a much more frequent basis. 

Starting XI Including Eriksen

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    Notes and impact

    Whilst Christian Eriksen does have a different style to that of Joao Mountiho, their impact to the Manchester United starting side would be relatively similar.

    The only real difference here is that Carrick or Cleverly—whoever assumes the holding midfielder role—would most likely play further in defense to cater for Eriksen's attacking abilities.

    The Ajax midfielder proved last season that he is strongest in the middle of the pitch, and can provide excellent addition going forward—regardless of where he features in attack. He can play on the wings if needed, but can also drop back and play a more traditional central midfielder role if the circumstances provide.

    Ideally, Eriksen would play behind Wayne Rooney in the position currently held by Shinji Kagawas, but given the likelihood of Kagawa starting for the Red Devils, Eriksen slots one position further back.

    This lineup—like most—does possess a strong attacking nature to it but Eriksen can play the central midfielders role when required. His passing skills and on-ball abilities would be of great benefit to Kagawa in attack, as well as Nani and Antonio Valencia on the wings, and could be an excellent signing for the Red Devils given his experience and current value.

Starting XI Including Baines

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    Notes and impact

    The positioning of Leighton Baines is an absolute no-brainer. He would fit in at left-back for the Red Devils and would take over from Patrice Evra in defense.

    Having said that, I'm not so quick to dismiss the prospect of Evra maintaining his starting position in the side from time to time. I understand that Baines is one of the best defenders in England, but he is viewed as a long-term replacement for Evra, not an instant replacement.

    I would expect Baines to start over Evra, but don't rule out the Frenchman to feature from time to time in United's defense—particularly in light of the injuries the Red Devils suffered in defense last season. They would have learned then that depth is crucial at the back, and the likes of Evra and Rafael da Silva are both crucial additions as replacements.

Conclusion: Potential Impact of Signings

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    Thus out of Moura, Moutinho and Eriksen, you'd have to go with the latter two as being the least likely to affect Manchester United's starting lineup for next season.

    I still think that anything more than £20-25 million is simply too much for an 19-year-old without any experience in the English Premier League and the size required to be competitive on the wings.

    So for me, Moutinho and Eriksen would both be excellent additions in midfield because they would allow the other wingers and attackers to flourish as well as dominating themselves.

    Leighton Baines would provide an improvement in defense; either midfielder would provide United with one of the most fearsome attacks in the league and would go a long way to winning back the English Premier League next season.

     

    What do you make of the potential signings and their impact on United?

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