Manchester United Transfers: 10 Players Fans Would Love to See at Old Trafford
And now for some fantasy fun.
After a string of unimpressive performances, and considering the transfer window is rapidly approaching, now is the time for a lot of United fans (like myself) to engage in a little bit of fantasy buying.
Who would we like to see in United colors? The obvious answers pop up right away (Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, etc.), but we must also temper that question by considering who United needs in the positions of weakness.
That said, with this slideshow, I'm going for a more "wish list" mentality rather than a probable or realistic one.
With Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Dimitar Berbatov, it's clear that United is more than solid up front.
Add the attacking abilities of Ashley Young and Nani and you have a strike force capable of running roughshod over most defences in the world.
That said, if United were to pony up the resources to obtain the services of the best player in the world, any United fan would easily sacrifice the services of any one of the aforementioned players to make room.
Imagine a front line of Rooney and Messi...
With United's strike force well stocked, fans have long been clamoring for reinforcements in the midfield.
Tom Cleverley may yet be the real thing, but it's hard to build on his potential from the medical table. Anderson, Fletcher and Carrick have all proven to be less than world class in the center of the park, which means United desperately need to strengthen that position.
Who better to plug that whole than the man who is possibly the best center midfielder in the game today?
The man who masterminds the flowing attacking movements of both the World Cup champions and the best club team in the world.
While his midfield partner Xavi is more of a true central midfielder, Iniesta falls more into the Paul Scholes mold—a compact attacking midfielder with excellent short passes, vision and booming long shots.
Capable of dissecting opposing defenses with cutting short passes or darting runs into the box, Iniesta—even more than Wesley Sneijder—would be the perfect replacement for the retired ginger-haired prince.
Rounding out our fantasy Catalan raid is the man who actually was a Red Devil once upon a time—the one who got away.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have bags of potential and could someday anchor the center of England's defense. But while they have sometimes played to that potential superbly, today they are still not quite ready.
And with Rio Ferdinand having a fairly ordinary season, it's time for Sir Alex to shore up his central defense.
Wouldn't it be nice if they could lure back one of the top defenders in the world? A partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Gerard Piqué would be legendary.
AC Milan has long been home to some of the best defenders in the game; Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta have all patrolled the San Siro's hallowed pitch and have proven themselves to be world-class.
So to has their latest defensive rock, Thiago Silva.
Strong, determined and an excellent reader of the game, he would be a welcome partner for Nemanja Vidic.
Danielle De Rossi
Since the departure of Roy Keane, United just has not had a dominant physical destroyer in the middle of the park.
Darren Fletcher came close to replicating Keane's form a couple of years ago, but injury seems to have stolen some of his bite.
Who better to step into the Irishman's shoes than the man sometimes called, well, "The Italian Roy Keane"?
AS Roma's Danielle De Rossi plays a similar game to Keane in that the lad knows how to get stuck in and break up those flowing attacks that teams like Barcelona are known for.
De Rossi's steel in the middle of the United midfield would certainly allow the Red Devils' own attack to flow with the full confidence that the Italian would provide excellent protection.
If not the "Italian Roy Keane," how about the "Spanish Roy Keane"?
Already linked with Manchester United for quite some time now, Martinez represents everything that the team needs to add some steel to their midfield, and he is well on his way to overtaking Barcelona's Sergio Busquets as the best defensive midfielder in the country.
If Martinez were to be paired with an attacking midfielder like Wesley Sneijder (or an injury-free Tom Cleverley), we may just see a truly dominant midfield in the vein of Keane and Scholes.
This has been a story that has been going on so long that some fans are starting to get a little tired of it. Simply put, the guy is good but needs a solid defensive midfielder behind him.
If United were to pull the trigger on Sneijder and Javi Martinez or Danielle De Rossi, they would have a killer midfield.
He has been barely mentioned as a transfer possibility, probably because it would take a miracle to pry him away from Bayern Munich, but Schweinsteiger has become one of the best central midfielders in the world.
Like Xavi, Schweinsteiger controls the midfield through excellent dribbling skills, ball control, precise passing and good tackling capability.
His forays in the World Cup have shown that he has a lethal long-range strike as well (just ask Portugal), and he is an excellent free-kick taker. As a United fan, I would love to have this guy in our midfield.
It is no coincidence that Bayern Munich's loss of form coincided with Schweinsteiger's injury.
Like Xavi with Barcelona, Schweinsteiger is the beating heart of any midfield he is in.
This is a pick driven almost purely by sentiment, but it also makes a bit of football sense, too.
David Beckham, deployed in the middle, where his lack of pace isn't exposed, still has what it takes to play in Europe. His brief loan spell at AC Milan and PSG's rumored chase for him are a testament to that.
He still has the footballing brain, the vision and the pin-point passing. Imagine a Manchester United where clinical finishers like Chicharito and power strikers like Wayne Rooney have the benefit of services like Beckham's.
That said, it also just feels right for Beckham to return; the man never really wanted to leave. He constantly talks about Manchester in nostalgic, almost romantic, terms.
He is a Red at heart and he should be given the chance to retire as a Red. And we could probably get him dirt cheap.