Liverpool are reportedly attempting to steal a march on Manchester United by bidding for Southampton’s Adam Lallana, although why the outgoing Premier League champions would compete for the 25-year-old’s signature is hard to fathom.
Lallana has enjoyed a spectacular season at St Mary’s and it would be a huge surprise were Roy Hodgson to omit the St Albans native from his England squad for the World Cup, after the midfielder showed great purpose and guile in three appearances for his country to date.
The Red Devils will have the opportunity to observe him at close quarters when they travel south for their last fixture of the season against Mauricio Pochettino’s side and their reported target can be backed at 5/2 to bag his tenth Premier League goal of a stellar campaign.
However, there are more obvious areas in need of attention at Old Trafford this summer – most notably in central defence and central midfield – and the spaces Lallana tends to operate in are already suitably stocked.
According to WhoScored.com, Lallana has featured in central midfield just once in 37 Premier League appearances for the Saints this term, with the vast majority of his 36 starts coming in one of the three attacking-midfield positions behind a lone frontman.
United are overloaded with players who can fill those roles, such as Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia to name just five, but are clearly lacking numbers for the two deeper-lying midfield positions.
Phil Jones has been pushed forward from centre-half to cover at times this term and current player-coach Ryan Giggs – who is widely expected to retire at the end of this campaign – also did a job there under David Moyes in the Champions League last-16 tie against Olympiakos.
Aside from that pair there’s Michael Carrick, who will be 33 by the start of next season and Darren Fletcher, who was always going to face an uphill struggle to get back to his best after a distressing stomach illness, to fill the ‘2’ roles in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
In defence, Nemanja Vidic has played his last match at Old Trafford after agreeing a move to Inter Milan this summer, while fellow centre-half Rio Ferdinand has admitted that he does not know whether he has a future at the club beyond next week.
All this means that the next Man Utd manager’s priority will be finding cover in defensive positions and not in an area where they have good options, despite who becomes available and who looks gettable.