In the summer following Manchester United’s loss to Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League Final, big changes took place. The Red Devils lost two key figures from their squad as both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez left the club. Fast forward two years, and Manchester United lost to Barcelona again in the Champions League final. In the summer since, big changes have occurred with new additions.
It has been just a month since United’s defeat at Wembley and already, the roster looks quite different. While most of the big European clubs have been quiet so far, United appears to be on a mission to address the holes in their team. Phil Jones, Ashley Young and likely David de Gea have all inked their signatures to take their talents to Old Trafford. All three players address important needs for both the immediate and distant future of the squad. United has created the perfect defensive partnership on the back line with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. With the da Silva twins, Rafael and Fabio on the wings, United have formed what looks to be the defense of the future. David de Gea, who was seen recently receiving a medical in Manchester, looks to be the goalie that will replace Edwin van der Sar for years to come. He has shown great poise, keen instincts, steel nerves and unquestioned athleticism while still only being twenty. At Atletico Madrid, he has commanded his defense well so it is safe to say he is going to fit in with United’s current line of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.
United also signed Ashley Young to add more creativity and stability from the left midfield as well as both wings. However, Young, Nani and Valencia will still have their key roles on United. Signing Young will inspire all three to play better in terms of ensuring the most playing time and at the end of the day, having an abundance of riches is never the worst thing. Just ask Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Now, there are still two more dramatic months of transfer craziness. Manchester United’s aggressiveness to fill in all their holes has now left them with just the one question that everyone has been talking about; Who is going to replace Paul Scholes in central midfield? In the eyes of many United fans, the summer will be seen as a disappointment if the gaping hole isn’t filled by someone who can add pace, creativity, incisive passing, and the necessary adaptability to immediately fit in with United.
Out of all the holes United is trying to fill, nothing is going to be as difficult or expensive than a central midfielder. In terms of immediate replacements, United are currently embroiled in transfer sagas with the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri. Any one of the three would be a superb addition at Old Trafford but with all three, there are obstacles. Luka Modric seems the least likely to come as he’s stated he would prefer to stay in London and Tottenham are proving difficult to negotiate with as they have inflated his value to an absurd amount of money. Wesley Sneijder is the perfect replacement in terms of experience and skill, but he’s demanding spectacularly high wages which may turn off United. Then, there’s Samir Nasri, who is the most likely of the three to make the move with the Red Devils. While Wenger would never want to sell his prized midfielder to his most bitter rival, the media reports that he still hasn’t persuaded Nasri to quash the rumors of his departure. As long as Nasri’s salary doesn’t increase, he won’t be fully content and with news of Manchester United launching a €20 million bid, he may just feel compelled to leave for the Theatre of Dreams.
Manchester United has also been linked to midfielders Charlie Adam, Lassana Diarra, and Danielle de Rossi. There has also been talk of long term midfield solutions that could come to United like Thiago Alcantara or Jack Rodwell.
No doubt that Manchester United will continue to be the constant subject of media speculation over who they are likely to sign. Who knows, United could end up bringing up the reserve squad like Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison or Ryan Tunnicliffe and incorporate them with the likes of Carrick, Giggs, Anderson and Fletcher. While things can quickly change, at this point I feel the best route for United is to focus on Samir Nasri. If that doesn’t work out, Thiago Alcantara would be a great midfielder to sign.
Big changes have already been made this summer. Stay tuned for more.