There's been a lot of speculation over the last 12 months or so, as to who Manchester United should buy to replace the ever aging Paul Scholes. While the 38-year-old continues to plug away in the heart of the Red Devils midfield a number of names have been thrown into the air, all of which have fallen on the ears of the football viewing public to a very mixed reaction.
The most recent name to be banded around the Internet has been Celtic's Victor Wanyama, a player who is having a solid season both in the Scottish Premier League and in Europe.
No one yet, however, has provided me with an argument better then "he seems pretty solid and he's young," and while Wanyama definitely has the potential to be a solid defensive midfielder, he is far from being the finished article at the holding position, something that Sir Alex could well be looking for if/when he finally puts Paul Scholes out to dry.
Youssouf Mulumbu isn't a big showman in the Premier League. He isn't seen in the back pages of The Sun for his nights out, nor does he complain when things go bad at the Hawthorns. The West Brom midfielder sits in the heart of the Baggies formation and gets on with his work without batting an eyelid, which has lead to him being overlooked as one of the league's best by fans and pundits alike.
He's a ball winner in the Premier League, a talent lost on many clubs as the rules of tackling change every other week.
Last season Mulumbu averaged - according to WhoScored.com - 2.9 tackles a game, not a league leading average but more then enough to place him in the top 15 of all tacklers in England's top flight. He also started more games then all but two of the other players in said top 15, with him, Alex Song and Yohan Cabaye and one appearance from the subs bench.
Along side Claudio Yacob this season, Mulumbu has found an ideal partner in crime.The Argentinian is averaging a whopping 4.1 tackles per-game giving Mulumbu the opportunity and freedom to move slightly higher up the pitch, a position Youssuof is more then capable of playing.
His ball distribution is head and shoulders above his current team mates and he ranked inside the top 75 of pass completion percentage and passes per game of all Premier League players last season. He may be a few pass off the likes of Paul Scholes and Mikel Arteta this season, but combined with his defensive assets, Mulumbu makes one formidable midfielder for any opponent to face, and at 25-years-old, he is undoubtedly mature enough to make the next step up the Premier League ladder and forge out a career at one of the top six.
The stats speak for themselves but what is really important, far more so then an accumulation of never the less impressive numbers, is how he plays the game and Youssouf excels in this criteria too. Any regular visitor to The Hawthorns knows that if there is someone the Baggies can rely on to stay composed in the most hectic of situations, it's Mulumbu.
His vision to read an opponents play is the key to his meticulous ability to thwart an opponent, and the timing of both his tackles - which rarely require a desperate lunge and often see Youssouf standing his ground before nudging the ball away - and his passes is often a joy to watch.
Un-phased by a sea of bodies, and able to lead an attack out from his own 18-yard box, Mulumbu plays like a footballer with 10, rather then three, years of Premier League experience and is as composed and focused a player seen in the top flight.
Finally his work ethic is second to none. This year the Baggies have looked like a side dedicated to their cause, with everyone giving 100% to everyone of their victories this season. But it was Mulumbu, last Saturday during their 2-1 victory over Chelsea, that epitomized the spirit currently flowing through the club. With around 10 minutes remaining Youssouf over stretched for a ball, straining his hamstring. Looking over to the subs bench he called for a change without realizing that his Gafa, Steve Clarke, had already made his three changes. Mulumbu struggled on, despite his obvious pain, and played an integral role in the defensive effort that brought the Midlanders all three points against the reigning European Champions.
With the Baggies having already found an ideal replacement for Youssouf in the form of their pint sized anchorman Claudio Yacob - who could be even better then Mulumbu if his early season form is more then just a flash in the pan spell of brilliance - they could be tempted to let their Makelele esc midfielder leave if the price is right, and United would surely be able to poach him away from the Baggies for less money and hassle then some of the other players that are currently being suggested around the web.
United might not be too desperate to look for a Paul Scholes thanks to the form of Tom Cleverly this season, but if they do go looking for a new holding midfielder, Mulumbu must make the top of their shortlist.