Leading Candidates to Be Manchester United's Next Ryan Giggs
Is there a greater Manchester United hero than Ryan Giggs?
The one-club man has won it all at Old Trafford over an incredible 23-year career: 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Champions League titles and many other trophies.
He has made well over 900 appearances and is easily the club's most capped player in history.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the flying winger has signed a one-year contract extension with the Red Devils, one that will see him play in United red aged 40, according to the BBC.
His ability to play at the highest level for so long, and to be so loyal, is incredible. He is the best possible professional role model for his teammates.
But who in the current Manchester United squad could even come close to replicating his achievements?
Who could replicate his longevity, or even his playing style?
Here are the four most likely contenders to be the next Ryan Giggs in the current Manchester United squad:
Twenty-one-year-old defender/midfielder Phil Jones has all the necessary attributes to be a Manchester United legend.
He is an honest, hard-working, determined footballer and man. His passion and zest for the game is noticeable to all who witness him in action.
Of all the young players in the Red Devils' squad, he seems to me to be the most likely to see out the rest of his career at Old Trafford.
The only issue would be his physicality. If he wants to play into this mid- to late-30s, he'll need to stop throwing himself into tackles with such vigour.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Jones is on the right path to success.
According to ESPN, last month the Scotsman said "[Phil] Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player. I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, no matter where we play him."
Sir Alex's words are daring but testament to the attitude and talent of the versatile Englishman.
Jones is only going to get better under David Moyes and is certain to be a key member of United teams of the future.
My second contender is young midfielder Nick Powell.
Having moved from Crewe last summer, Powell has not had as much impact in his first season at Old Trafford as he would have liked, making only six total appearances.
He did show his talent in brief spurts, though, most notably scoring 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute on his debut.
Still only 19 years old, great things lie ahead for the attacking midfielder.
He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a healthy attitude to the game.
Upon signing for United, he said "I’ve proved myself at a certain level but I want to prove myself here at the top level. I hope I can do well," as reported on the club website.
Like with Phil Jones, it is difficult to predict that someone of his age will spend the entirety of his career at one club, but Powell is a good bet in this respect.
It would be fair if Chris Smalling felt a little neglected from time to time at Old Trafford.
In the buildup to United's final game of the season against West Brom, Sir Alex said "I want to play Jonny Evans and Phil Jones at centre-half because they are the future," according to The Telegraph.
Although Smalling was out injured, it was odd that the former manager didn't mention him in this regard.
The 23-year-old has had good spells of form at the heart of the United back line and is a player marked for future greatness.
In terms of longevity, Smalling is an intelligent, level-headed man who could very well see out his career playing for the Red Devils.
He recently said "I should be in with a shout of starting [next season]. That’s the aim. You look for those opportunities to get in the side."
Central defenders tend to have some of the longest shelf lives as well. Fans will just have to hope Smalling stays healthy.
My final pick for a future Ryan Giggs is new signing Wilfried Zaha.
His inclusion is less about him seeing out his career playing for United, more in terms of his style of play.
The 20-year-old is a tricky, lightning-quick winger like the Welshman in his formative years.
A versatile threat, Zaha also spends much of his time on the left wing. This will continue next term as he pushes Ashley Young for a place in the starting XI.
His manager at Crystal Palace, Ian Holloway, said "[Zaha] has all the ability it takes to make his mark at United and will always be able to treasure the golden memory of the day when Sir Alex and Sir Bobby Charlton told him he is made for Old Trafford," according to The Mirror.
If he can buckle down and quickly iron out the flaws in his game, Zaha could live up to Holloway's high opinion of him.
In terms of longevity, though, it would be difficult to see Zaha remain at Old Trafford for half as long as Ryan Giggs has.
We should treasure any player who does.
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