Here are two players Manchester United should let go and the players that could possibly replace them at Old Trafford.
Despite United leading the Premier League and securing qualification into the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, there’s still room for improvement.
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One of Sir Alex Ferguson's biggest mistakes was spending €30 million on Anderson, an explosive No. 10 that scored and created a combined eight goals at the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, only to convert the Brazilian into a centre midfielder.
During Ryan Giggs' first three seasons as a United starter, he played 51, 46 and 58 club games.
Eight years into Anderson's professional career, he has yet to play 30 league games or more in a season. In terms of total club games per season, the most he has played is 38.
From rolling his ankle to an ACL tear to his knee buckling and now a hamstring injury—Anderson isn't fit enough to continue playing as a robust midfielder, which will inevitably lead to more injuries.
The recently retired Jimmy Bullard can sympathise with Anderson's body breaking down.
Sooner rather than later, the Brazilian will be forced to weigh up whether or not it's in his long-term interest to persistently put his body on the line (via Barry Glendenning at The Observer):
Laying there for the third time with the same knee, I thought: 'This could be it.' I originally decided to give it a week or two to settle down, but then I thought: 'You know what, I can't be arsed going through all this again.' I just weighed it all up and decided to call it a day before I crippled myself.
It's a testament to Ferguson that his team is doing so well, even though they don't have a world-class footballer in the middle.
Father time is knocking loudly on Ryan Giggs' door. Retirement beckons for Paul Scholes. Tom Cleverley is doing a decent job but he has the same injury problems as Anderson. Darren Fletcher is just not the same player he used to be.
Anderson's Replacement: Kevin Strootman, PSV Eindhoven, Age: 22
Following PSV's sensational success with Romário and Ronaldo, the club have consistently closed their eyes and plunged in with Brazilians.
Heurelho Gomes, Marcelo Ramos, Jorginho Paulista, Marquinhos Alves, Edno, Leandro Bonfim, Manoel Lourenço, Jonathan Reis—the list goes on.
Reis would have been a special player if not for his personal demons. Gomes was an exceptional keeper for the Dutch club. The rest were busts.
You can also throw in Alex as a good signing, but there wasn't a degree of risk in his transfer, since he came on loan from Chelsea.
United should include Anderson and cash in a deal for Strootman, who adds more authority plus a touch of finesse in midfield.
His passing is at times so pin-point that you wonder what type of player he could become if given the license to play as a No. 10.
Should he move to one of Europe's giants, like United, he'll have to be a role-player—or a water-carrier, as Eric Cantona would say—but still an important part of the engine room.
No one is knocking Anderson's ability, it's his durability that is the primary concern.
PSV are known risk-takers. If United throw Anderson in as a sweetener, perhaps less cash will be needed for Strootman.
If PSV were willing to give someone as troubled as Gilles De Bilde a second chance, the Eindhoven club may gloss over Anderson's lengthy injury history.
To use an NBA example, United selling Anderson is like the Los Angeles Lakers trading Andrew Bynum—getting something back for damaged goods is a smart deal.
Nani was quite candid about his status as a Manchester United player (from A Bola via Metro): "I know my future and I also know why I’m not playing more often. Only God knows what awaits me."
Tyese Cunningham, one of the women involved in "extracurricular activity" with Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson way back in 2007, provided this anecdote about the United winger, which can be applied to the stance he has instructed his agent to take whilst negotiating a new contract (via Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail): "A man I later found out was Nani came in wearing only boxer shorts, swaggering about and saying, 'I am hot, I am hot'."
Around about £130,000 per week of hotness (via Dom Raynor at ESPN FC).
Sir Alex Ferguson isn't too hot about keeping Nani, who has netted once from 24 shots in combined Premier League/UEFA Champions League playing time this season.
Nani Replacement: Bastian Oczipka, Eintracht Frankfurt, Left-Back, Age: 23
Oczipka is as much of a left-back as Dani Alves is a right-back.
The 23-year-old German is so attack-minded that he has completed more dribbles in league play (41) than Ashley Young, Anderson, Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa combined (33).
Oczipka has seven Bundesliga assists from left-back, which is better than Young and Valencia's joint output (6) in the Premier League.
Move Oczipka into midfield—he is a quasi-left winger for Frankfurt—and not only will he be productive going forward, but he's going to harass opposing right-sided players after having had defensive responsibilities as a left-back.
Oczipka is a more cost-effective option than signing James Rodríguez.
United were hosed by Porto with the Anderson transfer. Sporting Lisbon received the best deal for them when they held out during negotiations to sell Nani. Oh, and of course, signing the modern-day Ali Dia—Bébé—proved once again why Jorge Mendes is arguably the most powerful agent in football.
It's probably a good idea for Ferguson to stay away from Portuguese clubs, unless he's going to unearth CR7 2.0.
The other option is to stick with Ashley Young, who had a great game against Manchester City, but who are United supporters comparing him to? Danny Welbeck, who tries his best to no avail as a winger.
Alexander Büttner is another shout to play in midfield, considering he was converted from an attacking player into a full-back at Vitesse.
With regards to Patrice Evra's status at the club, he'll continue to play as long as he doesn't make defensive errors that lead to goals. Allow me to emphasize the "lead to goals" part, because he was in la la land when Mario Balotelli and David Silva had glorious chances to score.
Aside from that, Evra was pretty solid against Manchester City, but he's not the Evra of old. Once he relapses into the Evra of last season, Büttner—a player I recommended in May—will step in and replace the Frenchman.
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