6 Midfielders Manchester United Should Target to Overhaul Their Engine Room
When taking over as Manchester United manager, David Moyes' biggest task was remodelling the midfield, following years of neglect from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Marouanne Fellaini was the only purchase, but he spent much of the season out injured and has only started six Premier League games.
Darren Fletcher's return from injury following a year out recovering from his bowel condition was a welcome boost, but with Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley the only other available midfielders, United have struggled in the centre of the park this season.
With just a few months until the end of the season, Moyes will be looking to strengthen the midfield in the summer, but which player should he target? Here are six players who tick all the boxes, in terms of the position they play, as well as their ability to keep possession and create chances.
William Carvalho is a defensive player at Sporting Lisbon, a club he joined as a child, having broken into the first team this season. Aged just 21, Carvalho was called up to the Portuguese national side for the first time last November and looks set to play at the World Cup this summer.
Rob Dawson from The Manchester Evening News recently reported that the player was flattered by the link to United.
“It’s nice being praised and to know there are some big clubs interested in me. It could be Manchester United or Real Madrid. It’s just nice to have a great European club after me, but at the moment I’m just totally focused on Sporting and doing my best until the end of the season. At the end of the campaign, we will see what happens.”
Toni Kroos' contract expires next summer and rumours suggested that talks with Bayern Munich had stalled.
Following an excellent display against Arsenal in the Champions League, a game that Moyes was present for, it is clear he is just the sort of world-class player United could do with in the centre of the park.
According to WhoScored.com, Kroos has the best passing completion rate of any of the midfielders at Bayern Munich, successfully passing 91.8 percent of the passes he attempts. This stat is made all the more impressive by the fact that, on average, he is attempting over 70 passes a game.
David Lynch from The Manchester Evening News recently reported that Toni's brother, Felix Kroos, has admitted the player has discussed a move to United.
“We have already talked about it. Manchester has been the team of my dreams since I was a child. However, I don’t give him any advice. He will take a good decision for himself. There are worse situations than having to decide something like that.”
Jorge Resurrección Merodio, known as Koke, made his international debut for Spain last year and has had an impressive season for Atletico Madrid.
According to WhoScored.com, only Cesc Fabregas has more assists to his name this season than Koke in La Liga. He also has an average of two key passes per game and 1.8 successful crosses per game, which is more than any of his team-mates. His crossing ability might be particularly useful for United, with Ashley Young averaging 0.9 successful crosses per game and Valencia 0.7.
However, the midfielder signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid this season which doubled his release clause to £50 million. Whilst this makes United's chances of buying him slimmer, it doesn't rule him out. Gareth Bale signed a new contract with Tottenham Hotspur the year before joining Real Madrid, ensuring that his club got a huge transfer fee for him. Atletico Madrid's financial problems mean the club may be prepared to sell, if the price is right, and his new contract give them protection against losing him on the cheap.
Gundogan, who scored in last season's Champions League final against Bayern Munich, may be allowed to join United if Shinji Kagawa goes in the opposite direction, according to Steve Bates at The Mirror. Kagawa has barely featured for United under Moyes and would be welcomed back in Germany, after the Japanese star refused to rejoin Dortmund last summer.
Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi was close to leaving his boyhood club, Roma, in the summer after becoming dissatisfied with life in Italy.
Patrick Haond reported for Sky Sports that Roma were prepared to let him leave but Manchester United missed the deadline.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia confirmed this in an interview with L'Equipe (h/t football-italia).
"In the summer we talked about his future. He is from Rome, but there were some big clubs looking at him. I told him that I could not lose him last minute, so we set a date after which no-one would leave. That is exactly what happened. A few days after the first Serie A match of the season, Manchester United called the club and called him, but the date had passed and he didn't move."
Roma started the season strongly, winning their first 10 games, but have now fallen 11 points behind Juventus. Maybe now the ageing midfielder is ready for a new challenge.
According to WhoScored.com, only three players in Serie A attempt more passes per game than him.
Alex Song, Barcelona's defensive midfielder, may be open to a move this summer after starting just nine games in the league this season.
According to WhoScored.com, Song has one of the best passing completion rates of all the players at Barcelona, successfully completing 91.1 percent of his passes. He also makes a valuable defensive contribution, with an average of 2.2 tackles per game.
Having played in England for seven years, Song initially struggled to make the transition to life in Spain, and recently admitted he still has problems communicating with his team-mates.
Reports earlier this year suggested that Song would be available for as little as £10 million, which would certainly put him in United's price range.