It has been obvious to all and sundry that Manchester United will move for a new holding-midfielder this month, considering the current incumbent in the role, England’s Michael Carrick, will be 34 years old by the start of next season.
Red Devils gaffer Louis van Gaal has now admitted as much, having used more attack-minded players in the position on occasion during the 2014/15 campaign:
“No.6 is a key player, yes. I have more key roles – the No.6 is just one of those key roles.
“You have seen this season, for example, because Michael Carrick is injured and I don’t have another, I have to play with Ander Herrera there.
“He did it very well, but it is not his speciality.
“I have played Wayne Rooney there also, but it is not his favoured position. I had to do this because I don’t have another right-footed holding midfielder like Carrick.”
The Iron Tulip has his work cut out for him, as there aren’t too many top-class anchormen on the market, but the three midfielders below are thought to be prospective targets. We’ve put them under the news.bwin microscope…
The Borussia Dortmund man ticks plenty of boxes; at 24-years-old, it’s fair to assume Gundogan hasn’t yet hit his prime, and having played further forward earlier in his career, the Gelsenkirchen native’s versatility is a huge asset.
Furthermore, BvB have already announced he won’t put pen to paper on a new contract and wants to go, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Gonzalo Castro already signed up for next season.
The one concern is Gundogan’s fitness, after a back injury kept him out for a full 14 months between August 2013 and October 2014, but after starting 26 of Dortmund’s past 28 fixtures, such worries may have been allayed.
Old Trafford-ready rating: 8/10
The Southampton man certainly wouldn’t need any time to acclimatise to English football, having spent seven years at St Mary’s, but whether he’s the right man for the role Van Gaal is referring to is up for debate.
According to whoscored.com, Schneiderlin only turned out nine times in an anchor role during the campaign just ended, with Victor Wanyama and, before he left for Swansea, Jack Cork dropped in there more regularly by boss Ronald Koeman.
That being said, the 25-year-old Frenchman is clearly a talent, and the fact that Arsenal seem so keen to sign Schneiderlin suggests he has enough guile in his game to improve most squads.
Old Trafford-ready rating: 6/10
The Germany man signalled the end of his Real Madrid career over the weekend, with United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Juventus all expected to move for Khedira once the dust settles on the 2014/15 season.
Like fellow Die Mannschaft midfielder Gundogan, Khedira’s fitness record is a worry; transfermarkt.co.uk believes the 28-year-old missed a whopping 58 Real Madrid fixtures through injury over the past two seasons.
On the plus side, Khedira’s Bernabeu contract is about to run out, so Los Blancos won’t be able to command a fee for his services, which takes much of the risk out of his potential acquisition. Unfortunately for United, it is being reported that Juventus have got in first.
Old Trafford-ready rating: 7/10