Picking a Manchester United Starting XI with Robin van Persie

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJuly 22, 2012

Picking a Manchester United Starting XI with Robin van Persie

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    It’s the transfer rumor that just won’t go away. 

    Ever since Arsenal striker Robin van Persie confirmed that he would not re-sign with the club at the end of the season, he was a man in high demand and instantly became the most talked-about striker in world football. 

    Manchester United emerged as a potential landing spot for the wantaway striker according to The Daily Mail, and the possible move has enthralled commentators and spectators alike throughout the summer transfer window.

    However, should a move take place, how would he fit at United? Where would he play; what other players would be affected by his arrival? 

    Let’s take a look then at what Manchester United’s starting lineup would be including Robin van Persie. You’ll note that I haven’t included players rumored to be making moves to United such as Leighton Baines and Lucas Moura for they are not United players yet. 

    With that out of the way, let’s see what the Red Devils' starting side will be should Robin van Persie make his way to Old Trafford.

GK: David De Gea

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    David de Gea is young, talented and still has plenty of potential to offer Manchester United.

    We'll get a great opportunity to witness just how the Red Devils' No. 1 goalkeeper is traveling when he lines up for Spain at the 2012 London Olympics.

LB: Patrice Evra

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    Everton defender Leighton Baines remains a high priority for Manchester United in the summer transfer window as they look for a long-term replacement to Patrice Evra.

    Having said that, the French international is still a quality defender, and until the day that Baines is given the nod as the preferred defender, Evra keeps his spot as the Red Devils left-back.

LCB: Rio Ferdinand

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    Rio Ferdinand might not be getting any younger and he might still be making the odd mistake on Twitter, but he still deserves his place in the starting lineup for Manchester United.

    Ferdinand is a veteran of United's defense and, with the confidence of manager Sir Alex Ferguson, could prove this season why he could have easily been picked for England at the European Championships.

    According to him, anyway.

RCB: Nemanja Vidic

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    The Red Devils skipper was sourly missed in United's Premier League campaign last season and will be a welcome addition for this year.

    Nemanja Vidic's leadership and on-ball strength have established himself as one of the premier defenders in the English Premier League—expect another strong year from the captain to prove that once again.

RB: Phil Jones

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    Phil Jones' inclusion in United's defense could be of particular importance given the attacking talent ahead of him in the team.

    Rafael da Silva did hold the position last year and offers more going forward but Jones is the better defender—stronger, more physical and better in the air—and will be a better inclusion in defense.

    Jones is a defender who will provide the stability and consistency that Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for from his defenders this season.

LM: Nani

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    The battle for a position in United's midfield this season will be one of the most competitive throughout the entire preseason, and I expect Nani to get a start over Ashley Young here.

    The Portuguese international has appeared to have no issues remaining at Old Trafford and will offer the Red Devils a great goal-scoring threat going forward.

    I expect Nani and Young to alternate in this position throughout this summer, as well with Antonio Valencia on the right-hand side of the pitch. But if it's just Nani vs. Young in a head-to-head, I'm taking Nani every time.

LCM: Tom Cleverley

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    Another player that we'll get to witness at the upcoming London Olympics is Tom Cleverley—a player that would surely have seen more time on the pitch for the Red Devils last season were it not for his injuries.

    Neither Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick are getting any younger and United do need a holding midfielder in their attacking side—making the box-to-box Cleverley an ideal candidate.

    Expect Carrick to also feature heavily in this position throughout the year but again, in a head-to-head, I'd be taking Cleverley over the more senior Carrick.

    For me, the young English international could well turn out to be one of the most surprising players for Manchester United this season.

RCM: Shinji Kagawa

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    I know the first thought here—Shinji Kagawa in midfield isn't going to work because he's too much of an attacking player to play a typical midfielder's role.

    You'd be completely correct.

    Kagawa's attacking tendencies would be an issue if he were to play a typical midfielder's role, but we all know that simply isn't going to take place. We know he will play further up the pitch—linking up with Nani and Valencia on the wings, and being brought into the attack as Wayne Rooney drops back to help in midfield.

    Thus I have no problem putting Kagawa as a midfielder in this United side. The Red Devils' star signing has to feature in their starting lineup this season and should Robin van Persie arrive at the club, there really aren't too may other positions for him to play.

RM: Antonio Valencia

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    Antonio Valencia was superb for the Red Devils last season, leading the club in assists and winning the Player of the Year Award for the club.

    He was excellent on the right wing and is likely to assume his starting responsibilities next season.

    The winger doesn't have much of a left foot, so don't expect to see him anywhere other than on the right-hand side really, but as mentioned before, the likes of Nani and Ashley Young will take over for Valencia from time to time.

    He is a clear starter for United.

LF: Robin Van Persie

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    Robin van Persie would look awesome in attack for Manchester United.

    He'd have an abundance of attacking options around him for him to benefit off, or even play the assist-maker that he is known to be from time to time.

    His keen eye for goal and incredible finishing abilities have made him one of the most feared strikers in the English Premier League and that would only continue if he made a move to Old Trafford.

    He must play up front and there's no doubt that everyone would benefit as a result if he did.

RF: Wayne Rooney

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    Picking up the final spot in the starting side is none other than United's go-to striker, Wayne Rooney, who had another excellent season for the club last year.

    Rooney and van Persie would easily be the most fearsome striker duo in the Premier League—if not in the entire continent—as the two developed a symbiotic relationship in attack.

    Rooney's tendency to drop back and build the attack from midfield will once again be a great tool for United this year with Kagawa and van Persie both likely to benefit greatly.

    How he would function and play with RvP in attack is probably another article for another time, but there's no doubt that at its most basic form, the two would be dynamic and could propel United to a myriad of English and European success.

Concluding Observations

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    Whilst there is no doubt a lot to say about this starting side, I'll keep my concluding observations brief and leave it up to the Bleacher Report readers to share their opinions.

    Five thoughts to ponder from me:

    Firstly is the formation. It was expected that with the addition of Shinji Kagawa, United would move from the 4-4-2 they've typically adopted but I think that should Robin van Persie arrive, the best formation to accommodate for all the attacking talent on hand is the 4-4-2.

    Secondly is Tom Cleverley. He is a must-include for me—a player that as I mentioned, would have been a significant player last year were it not for injuries. With all the attacking talent around and ahead of him and a strong defense behind him, I think this could be his year to shine in the English Premier League.

    Thirdly, I know the inclusion of Shinji Kagawa as a midfielder is bound to ruffle a few feathers, but I stand by the fact it is the only viable position for him to play given the attacking players that also must play for United.

    He will still likely play as an attacking central midfielder and could form a dynamic trio with van Persie and Rooney, who will both drop back to midfield to build the attack for United.

    Fourthly, it will be interesting to see how RvP and Rooney work together should they arrive. There's no doubt that the two could benefit each other greatly, but I expect it to take some time for the two to figure that out. Truth be told, I'm still not sold on how this duo would work exactly.

    Fifthly and finally, the biggest loser of this starting side is Danny Welbeck. I'd love to include the English international in the squad, but there simply isn't any room for him—it's as simple as that. Should RvP arrive, it could be interesting to see what he and Javier Hernandez do over the January transfer window—some food for thought perhaps.

    I'll leave it there for me—what do you think of United's starting side to include Robin van Persie? Do you think it will work or do you think there are some serious problems with it?

    Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: