4 Young Stars Who Could Bring Life to Sir Alex's Lineup
Manchester United have forged a dynasty on their ability to train up youthful talent from their base form, turning them into lethal championship-winning weapons.
Over the past 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson has changed the face of the modern game with his highly controversial outbursts and almost unnatural success with the Red Devils.
But perhaps his greatest influences in world football are the host of ever-increasing youth programs focused at training young players.
That's not to suggest for a moment that Fergie was the first man ever to utilise young, cheap players and turn them into world beaters.
Rather, Ferguson has taken this art and perfected it to such an extent that many following the Scotsman's lead are now starting to wonder exactly how he does it.
With the very notable exception of Barcelona and their Cantera, very few sides have been able to match the success that Fergie and United have achieved (particularly in the late '90s) with a host of players from their own academy.
That tradition continues on today at United, and with the January transfer window now upon us (as well as the summer window creeping up quicker than one would imagine), it's time to look again toward those youth players that United will be targeting in an attempt to find the next Scholes or Giggs.
There has been a lot said about James Rodriguez in recent months, and for once all the hype about a young talent may just match up to its billing.
The 21-year-old Colombian, who currently plies his trade with FC Porto, would be an ideal fit for United.
Able to play down both flanks, or even if need be in the centre of midfield, Rodriguez is the kind of asset that any club would love to have in their ranks.
James would be an obvious answer to the dilemma of what to do with the left side of United's midfield in the coming years (with Nani likely to be leaving in the summer and Ashley Young playing too inconsistently for most fans' liking).
In fact, it wouldn't shock me much at all if Rodriguez was able to automatically break into the United starting XI if he was to be signed up by the Red Devils in the near future.
If United are going to secure the young man's signature, they will face menacingly fierce opposition from some of Europe's elite sides.
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and even Juventus have all shown a keen interest in snapping the Porto winger up, and with competition like that, you can never be too confident that you're going to get your man.
Still, if Fergie can lure Rodriguez to Old Trafford, then the United faithful may be looking at their next South American cult hero.
Despite Sir Alex currently not putting a bid in—as was expected at this stage—for the Celtic man, Victor Wanyama should still near the top of any United fan's wish list.
The supreme talents of the 21-year-old from Kenya have led to a head-to-head battle (however casually it's being treated at the moment) between Arsenal and United in attempts to curry the favour of the African sensation.
It would appear as if United have won the moral battle, at least with speculation earlier this week suggesting that Wanyama has aspirations of playing for Manchester United at some point in his career.
It had been rumoured that a £10 million bid was being set up and that Celtic were likely to accept that when and if it was made.
However, reports have surfaced this week that Fergie has ruled off out chance of signing Wanyama, having watched him train earlier this week.
Whether you chose to believe one rumour or the other, one thing is for certain: The domineering presence of the 6'2" Kenyan in central midfield could only ever be a good thing for a United side looking to bolster up the middle of the park.
Victor's performances against Barcelona in Celtic's Champions League clashes this season have been the perfect platform to exhibit his immense talent against the best players in the world.
United need a player like this.
Despite being a name that is perhaps not as familiar with United fans as Wanyama or Rodriguez, Kurt Zouma would nevertheless be an equally prosperous acquisitions for Fergie.
The 18-year-old French centre-back is certainly more of a raw talent than the aforementioned players on this list, but he has the potential to be harnessed into the next great Manchester United foreign defender.
His natural ability is certainly evident from the run-outs that Kurt has had with current club side St Etienne, and if there's one club in the world where a young star can realise his full potential, then it is with the red of the tablecloth army.
Zouma is being touted already as the replacement in the united back-four for the ever-ageing Serbian stalwart, Nemanja Vidic.
Of course, this transfer would be much more of a long-term investment than an instant payoff, with Vidic more than likely not going away anytime soon and Zouma still in the early stages of his professional career.
Still, a move for the Frenchman now, whilst his price tag is still low, could make him one of the best long-term bargains in Premier League history if he lives up to the calibre of class that is expected of him.
The burning questions is, will he? That's a risk that from Sir Alex's point of view should be worth taking.
Twenty-year-old Jeff Schlupp is another man who many fans of top-tier football may not be all that familiar with.
Despite being born in Hamburg, Germany, Schlupp has made one senior appearance already for his adoptive country of Ghana, as well as a host of appearances for current club team Leicester City.
Jeffrey is a relatively confusing talent, being able to play not only as a striker (as he did during a loan spell at Brentford), but also (and primarily) as a left-back.
Schlupp has been training for the past week with the Premier League champions, and as such, this has led to speculation that he may be a future possible contender with Alexander Büttner for the regular LB slot when Patrice Evra parts company with the club.
United and Leicester have enjoyed a decent bond of friendship—as far as two football clubs can do—over the past year, with several United "rejects" finding their way to the Walker Stadium, as well as a couple of youth-team players going out on the loan to the Foxes.
As such, it would be somewhat fitting for Leicester to act as something of a feeder club to United in this particular instance, with their young superstar potentially joining the Premier League leaders.
Out of all the players listed, this is probably the least likely move to happen, but if Jeff proves himself worthy enough in the eyes of the boss, then anything is possible.