Manchester United Eying New Midfield Maestro: Five Players Who Can Impact
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With Paul Scholes past his best, Luis Valencia sidelined for a lengthy spell and Owen Hargreaves' trouble recovering from a long-term injury, Sir Alex Ferguson has little choice but to dip his hand into the transfer market.
Manchester United will reportedly be searching for a new star midfielder to help their bid for Premier League and European glory as early as the upcoming January window.
The Red Devils were recently linked to dozens of midfield luminaries, and IMScouting analyzes the five players who could go on to make a real impact for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger has been playing for Bayern Munchen since 1998 when he was just 14 years old.
To date, he has notched 363 appearances and scored 41 goals for the German giants.
Despite already starring for a great European club, which only last year reached the UEFA Champions League Final, a move to Manchester United would be a step-up.
At 26 years of age, the international capped 84 times, is in his footballing prime and now would be the time to make a move to a club that has real ambitions of European glory.
23-year-old Frenchman Jeremy Menez has got enormous potential that has so far not been realized.
AS Roma spotted the promising talent and landed him in 2009 for a fee of €12m. He has so far appeared 80 times for the Giallorossi, scoring 10 goals and contributing five assists.
He has got fantastic dribbling skills, on par with the best in the game, along with the flair and knack for the extraordinary that characterizes top players.
Menez mainly plays as a left winger but is such a gifted all-around player that he can slot into any position across the midfield.
He recently earned a France call-up from new national team boss Laurent Blanc, en route to becoming a regular international.
He is sometimes criticised for lacking enough commitment, but Menez has definitely got the potential to make it big at a club like Manchester United , under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Standard Liege star man Steven Defour is regarded as one of the best players in the Belgian league and is sure to earn a move to a European luminary in the coming years.
The central midfielder, who won the Belgian league's Golden Boot award in 2007, has got fantastic vision to partner his excellent work rate and leadership skills.
Capped 26 times for the Belgium national team and scoring one goal in the process, Defour is a physical, capable ball-winner who adds steel and class to the midfield.
He has been captaining Standard Liege since he was just 19 years old and was previously linked to Palermo, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United themselves among other European household names.
The 23-year-old Slovakia star boasts 38 goals in 134 appearances for SSC Napoli , since his move from Brescia in 2007.
Renowned for his explosive ability, pace, dribbling skills and powerful right foot, Hamsik is a rare talent, well suited to making it in the English Premier League.
Comfortable playing anywhere across midfield, Marek Hamsik captained the Slovakian national team during World Cup 2010 and has amassed plenty of experience on the international stage with 40 appearances and eight goals to his name.
The Napoli captain is a model professional who performs his offensive and defensive duties with equal quality and dedication.
Belgian international Eden Hazard has been labeled the 'next Ronaldo' for a few years now, and he's only 19 years old.
The 1.70m-tall midfield maestro, who can play on either wing, is undoubtedly one of the best prospects on the European stage.
He is currently pulling the strings for Lille as they are mounting an audacious Ligue 1 title challenge, and has played down the chance of a January move.
Lille will know a star of Hazard's magnitude will soon be looking for a lucrative move to one of Europe's top leagues, but they will be reluctant to let their wonder kid go on the cheap, meaning United will have to dig deep in order to prize him away from his club.
Hazard has been linked to just about every major European club, including Real Madrid, Liverpool and Arsenal, but will reportedly opt for a switch to Manchester United .
He has already been capped 17 times for the senior Belgium national team.