Is it time for life beyond Nemanja Vidic?
Following an aborted return to first-team action at the beginning of the season after eight months on the sidelines with a ruptured cruciate ligament, Vidic could again be restored at the heart of defence this weekend, when Manchester United play host to Sunderland.
Should Vidic’s return to fitness be successful this time, he naturally becomes a saleable asset again and this will be crucial when United’s hierarchy comes to weigh up his potential value in the market against his remaining value to the team.
With various clubs reported to be circling for his signature and Vidic nearing his twilight years, his sale could be very good business for the Old Trafford outfit while Sir Alex continues to construct the last Manchester United side of his illustrious career.
Much has happened since United’s club captain last led out the side on a regular basis, over a year ago now, and this is worth some further contemplation.
If an attractive bid for Vidic becomes a realistic proposition, Sir Alex could reinvest the proceeds and sign a younger model with the potential to achieve the heights that his captain had enjoyed over the past few seasons.
Another consideration would be the rise to prominence of Jonny Evans, whose development in Vidic’s absence has been superb. The Northern Irishman has stepped up to the plate, now making it very difficult for Sir Alex to relegate him to the bench.
In the wings are Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Two young defenders said to be the future bedrock of Manchester United and England’s central defence. Sir Alex will not wish to stifle their progress, nor will they wait forever. There are also the emerging talents of Scott Wooton and Michael Keane.
Transfer speculation has been rife in the last few months too. United has been continuously linked with some potential younger replacements for Vidic.
Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s Vegard Forren at Molde; FC Nordsjaelland’s Jores Okore, who impressed in the Champions League, and accomplished Borussia Dortmund pair, Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, to name but a few.
Perhaps muddying any decision is the fact that Sir Alex would lose his captain. However, who is riper and more suited than Wayne Rooney to take over that mantle?
England manager, Roy Hodgson, has already earmarked Rooney to lead his country forward by taking the skipper’s armband, so the same transition at club level seems a natural one for United’s talisman.
When United narrowly lost the title race to Manchester City last season, everyone agreed Vidic’s absence was critical. This season, United currently sit six points clear at the top of the Premier League with some key fixtures, including the massive derby victory last weekend, already behind them.
A January sale may be a little too early to cash in on Vidic—he could yet rebuild an impressive partnership with Rio Ferdinand or Evans and shore up a leaky defence—but it’s time to at least consider a Manchester United without the commanding Serbian.
If United decide to sell, would you want to leave it until summer? How much do you think Nemanja is worth? Who would your replacement be?
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