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Ranking Manchester United's Rumoured Creative Midfield Targets

Laura GreeneFeatured Columnist IIOctober 4, 2016

Ranking Manchester United's Rumoured Creative Midfield Targets

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    It looks like Thiago Alcantara is on his way to Old Trafford, and Manchester United have been linked with a host of other creative midfielders—from Luka Modric to Marco Verratti, and even Cristiano Ronaldo

    The summer transfer window has been officially open since last week and already a mountain of names have been rumoured to be joining David Moyes’ side.

    But which players are most likely to join the Red Devils and how do they compare to one another?

    We've examined some of the finest midfield talent that's currently on offer in Europe and ranked the players in order of their suitability for Manchester United and the likelihood of them actually joining the club.

    All scores are based on my own opinions.

    Click through the next few slides to see who we've chosen and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Honorable Mention: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Age: 28

    Club: Real Madrid

    Position: Winger

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 34—34

     

    Cristiano Ronaldo—the player every Manchester United fan longs to see back at Old Trafford.

    A conversation about United's midfield would not be complete without a tip of the hat towards CR7.

    For a while there, it looked like the Portuguese winger might be on his way back to Old Trafford. Reports like this by The Sun’s Neil Custis fueled United fans’ excitement about the prodigal return of "the boy Ronaldo."

    It would have been an almighty coup for new boss David Moyes if he managed to bring Ronaldo back into the fold.

    The move would also have made United one of the favourites to win the Premier League and mount a serious challenge in Europe next season.

    However, it looks like fans of the Red Devils will have to wait a little longer to see Ronaldo back at Old Trafford.

    According to Pete Jensen and Ian Herbert in the IndependentRonaldo will stay at Real Madrid for one more year before moving back to United as a free agent in 2015.

     

    Rating: 10/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 0/10. For now, anyway.

Marco Verratti

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    Age: 20

    Club: Paris Saint-Germain

    Position: Central Midfield

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 27—0

     

    Marco Verratti exploded onto the scene last season with Paris Saint-Germain.

    He signed for the Ligue 1 outfit in 2012 as part of a five-year deal from Serie B side Pescara.

    The 20-year-old has made such a splash since making the move that he is already being dubbed "the next Andrea Pirlo."

    This report on ESPN.co.uk suggests that both Real Madrid and Manchester United are now interested in securing the youngster’s services.

    This could all be bluster to engineer a higher-paying deal, as Verratti's agent Donato Di Campli is known to be keen to increase his client's wages at PSG.

    Di Campli told Italian website Sport Mediaset (via Talksport):

    "I'll talk to the directors in Paris next week to discuss his future.

    We'll also discuss a pay rise.

    Verratti is tied to the outfit for another four seasons, but he is no longer the player who arrived from Pescara.

    His value is now different and we'll also evaluate these aspects."

    Verratti's composure on the ball makes him look wise beyond his years and he has an incredible range of passing that would undoubtedly make him an asset in United's midfield. PSG, however, may not let a prodigious talent leave so easily.

     

    Rating: 6/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 2/10. 

Nicolas Gaitan

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    Age: 25

    Club: SL Benfica

    Position: Winger

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 23—3


    According to Charles Perrin of the Express, Manchester United are preparing a bid to sign Nicolas Gaitan from Benfica.

    It’s not the first time that the Old Trafford side have been credited with interest in the Argentinian winger.

    In fact, there is almost a sense of déjà vu in this story. In 2012, it was announced in the Telegraph that United has agreed a deal to sign Gaitan.

    However, the move never materialized.

    And it looks like this transfer window is throwing up another case of will he, won't he leave the Estadio da Luz.

    Gaitan's agent Jose Iribarren insists that there have been no offers for the 25-year-old in this report on skysports.com.

    Elsewhere, in this article by Jamie Sanderson in Metro, he suggested in April that his client would "love" to play in the Premier League.

    Gaitan is a talented playmaker who can play on either wing or in central midfield. He possesses dazzling pace, a deft first touch and a complete range of passing.

    Stay tuned to see if United manage to get the man who slipped through the net in 2012.

     

    Rating: 5/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 3/10. 

Luka Modric

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    Age: 27

    Club: Real Madrid

    Position: Central Midfielder

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 33—3

     

    Luka Modric has been on Manchester United’s radar for a long time.

    In 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson even compared the Real Madrid man to United legend Paul Scholes.

    Modric has four years yet to run on his current deal at the Bernabeu, but this has done little to stop rumours linking him with a move away from the club.

    If reports by Steve Bates in the Mirror are to be believed, United and Chelsea have been locked in a battle to sign the 27-year-old playmaker.

    Modric appears to have ruled out a move away from Real Madrid, as seen in this article on skysports.com.

    But, if Madrid bring in a slew of new players, Modric could find himself marginalized and on the lookout for a move back to the English top-flight.

    Proven in the Premier League and with Champions League experience, Modric could be just the right player for Manchester United to pursue. Whether he’ll leave Madrid, though, is another matter.

     

    Rating: 8/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 4/10. 

Yohan Cabaye

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    Age: 27

    Club: Newcastle United

    Position: Central Midfield

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 26—6

     

    This time last month, Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye reportedly went public in stating his interest to move to Manchester United, as seen in this article by Martin Hardy in the Independent.

    The 27-year-old’s current contract at St James’ Park runs out in 2016 and, according to Hardy, Cabaye has no buyout clause.

    This would see the Frenchman leaving Newcastle for a fee upwards of £30 million.

    According to this report by the Mirror's Simon Bird, Cabaye is also being tracked by Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. 

    When injury-free, Cabaye has shown streaks of brilliance for the Magpies—he’s a superb passer of the ball, offers a threat in set-piece delivery and has a great eye for goal. He would also bring pace and artistry to the United midfield, where he can operate as a defensive midfielder in the hole or on the right wing. 

    Deployed as a defensive midfielder for most of his time at Newcastle, it’d be interesting to see what Cabaye could accomplish in a creative role at Old Trafford.

     

    Rating: 5/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 5/10. 

Kevin Strootman

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    Age: 23

    Club: PSV Eindhoven

    Position: Central Midfield

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 32—6

     

    Kevin Strootman has been tracked by United for over a year, with recent reports in the Express suggesting that scouts have been closely monitoring the 23-year-old. 

    The 6'1" Dutchman is a superb tackler, is an imposing presence on the pitch and he has a great left foot. He can play the holding role and is also very good going forward. He could be the perfect partner for Michael Carrick in the center of the park.

    Strootman has already captained the Dutch national team and is club captain at PSV Eindhoven.

    The Eredivisie side are rumoured to have told Strootman that he must stay for one more year, seen here in Daniel Jones' article in Metro.

    However, according to this story on skysports.com, the United target is still eyeing a move away from the club.

     

    Rating: 7/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 6/10. 

Claudio Marchisio

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    Age: 27

    Club: Juventus

    Position: Central Midfielder

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 29—6

     

    Claudio Marchisio has spent his entire playing career with Juventus and Manchester United are longtime fans of the 27-year-old.

    The midfielder, who is often compared to fellow Italy and Juve compatriot Andrea Pirlo, has been linked with United in recent weeks.

    And the Italian is rumoured to have said he would be "very proud" were United to poach him from the Serie A side.

    According to Martin Lipton in the Mirror, he said:

    "I've heard that I might not be so valuable to Juve any more.

    I've not been told anything by the club or received any offers and I need to speak to Juve to see if I am still an important player for them.

    If that's not the case, it will be normal to look at other teams. It is not only down to me - it has to be the club as well.

    So far, I do not know but if I get offers from Manchester United, or Monaco, I would be very proud."

    However, Juve director general Giuseppe Marotta insists that the player is not for sale, as seen on skysports.com.

     

    Rating: 8/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 7/10. 

Thiago Alcantara

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    Age: 22

    Club: Barcelona

    Position: Central Midfield

    Domestic League Appearances and Goals in 2012/13: 27—2


    Thiago Alcantara’s rumoured move to Manchester United has been well documented in recent weeks.

    The Barcelona midfielder looks likely to join the Old Trafford side in the next seven days, according to a report by Jamie Jackson in the Guardian.

    The 22-year-old may have only started 15 games for Barca last season, but his recent performances for Spain in the U-21 European Championship showed what an impact he can have.

    Alcantara ran out of the tournament with a winner’s medal and bagged a hat-trick in the final against Italy.

    The player’s release clause will cost United a reported fee of £17 million, according to this additional report by the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson. 

    It looks to be a snip for a player who would bring a wealth of creative, attacking flair to the current United side.

     

    Rating: 7/10

    Likelihood of Joining: 9/10. 

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