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The Midfield Conundrum – Who best suits United?

The thing that most United fans are talking about during the silly season is the deficiencies seen in the United midfield last season. As already previously discussed on here, it was the lacking midfield which was exposed a lot at different periods in the season (not least against Barcelona in the Champions League final). Instead of talking about who is better and who can bring what to the table, I have decided to stick with the facts and draw up statistical comparisons. Some argue that statistics can prove pretty much any point but I think they are useful in analysing the game and strengths of players and may give a better understanding as to who would actually be better suited to come into the United lineup. So I have drawn up 6 potential targets that United could make a move for in this summer window. Take a look. (Note: SpG = Shots Per Game)

                                                                                          

Wesley Sneijder

Photo: Getty Images

Strengths 

– Long shots

– Set pieces

– Variety and accuracy of passing

– Dribbling

Weaknesses

– Defensive contributions

With a passing success rate of 85%, few can question whether he would have the capabilities to strengthen our midfield. Combine that with 11 goals and 7 assists in a season where he remained quite anonymous in comparison to others in the Serie A and we begin to realise why Sneijder is such a coveted talent. Sure, it is probably highly unlikely that he will be moving to Old Trafford this year but it doesn’t mean we can’t dream!

                                                                                                          

Samir Nasri

Photo: Getty Images

Strengths

– Passing

– Dribbling

– Long shots

– Set pieces

– Retaining possession

Weaknesses

– Defensive contributions

– Crossing

– Strength

For me, Nasri was just using the possibility of a move to Old Trafford in order to bait Arsenal into giving him an improved contract. Even so, he was probably the stand-out performer for Arsenal next season and his quick movement in midfield and creative spark would slot nicely into our midfield. One thing I would have to question is his natural desire to drift wide. If he was to come to United he would have to have the discipline to stay more central otherwise it just wouldn’t work.

                                                                                                          

Luka Modric

Photo: Getty Images

Strengths

– Interception of play

– Dribbling

– Focus

– Passing range

– Tackling

Weaknesses

– Defensive contribution

By far my top transfer target this summer. I have been an admirer of the Croatian for a while now but it is only this season, with Spurs entering the Champions League, has he come into the limelight. He really looks like he could replace Scholes as much as any player could but with Chelsea entering the saga, his price will rocket towards and above £30 million. Would he be worth it? It is hard to argue with his statistics of an 87% passing success rate over a season and combined with the holding role that Carrick slots into, it would be a dream partnership. Sign him up!

                                                                                                                

Shinji Kagawa

Photo: Reuters Photos

Strengths

– Long shots

– Finishing

Weaknesses

– Injured for most of last season, could recur

– Defensive contribution

Rather than just look at the typical targets I chose to put a few names in the hat that I personally admire. An attacking midfielder, Kagawa took the Bundesliga by storm in the first half of the season until he got injured and scored 8 goals on the way. He would play further up the pitch than Modric would, for example, and for that reason it may be an invalid option for United but I would still love to see this Japanese starlet in the red of Manchester next season.

                                                                                                       

Toni Kroos

Photo: Getty Images

Strengths

– Ball retention

– Passing

– Set pieces

– Crossing

Weaknesses

– Defensive contribution

– Tackling

– Discipline

Kroos is a very impressive young talent and the fact that he is German, for me, entices me greatly. I was so happy that we bought Hargreaves because a German midfielder just seems to have a different mentality than the rest of the world. His mentality would mean that SAF could mould him into whatever type of midfielder he wanted and Kroos has shown both for his national side and Bayern Munich this season that he is more than capable of adaptive midfield play. He would be a great signing but is probably a bit too young to be considered the solution to our midfield problems.

                                                                                                                

Arturo Vidal

Photo: AP Photo

Strengths

– Tackling

– Finishing

– Passing

– Interception

– Defensive contribution

– Set pieces

Weaknesses

– Concentration

– Discipline

Vidal is another player that has shined in the Bundesliga this year and is a player comparable to Sanchez for the fact that he poses a great attacking threat. With 11 goals and 11 assists this season, he helped Leverkusen back into the Champions League and combining that with a passing success rate of 84%, you can see why I have included him on this list. I’m not sure if he would work alongside Carrick but I know that he would be welcome in the team. SAF could turn him into a Scholes-esque player with time.

                                                                                                     

Alexis Sanchez

Photo: Getty Images

Strengths

– Defensive contribution

– Pace

– Dribbling

– Passing

– Finishing

Weaknesses

– Discipline

– Ball retention

The name everybody is talking about and the player that everyone apparently wants. Alexis Sanchez has risen to be a global phenomenon this season after a great year with Udinese in Serie A. In terms of sorting out our midfield, he would be be played more as a winger than a central player but it looks as if SAF is very much interested in the boy. Could well provide new energy and spark to a midfield that has looked static this season.

Source for statistics: WhoScored

                                                                                       

And the winner is….

Luka Modric. I can’t see any player who would both be better suited to compliment the structure that United already have and be able to bring something that we have been missing at the same time. He should bring out the best in Michael Carrick but it would place emphasis on our wingers and forwards to get the goals as his statistics show he is not an out-and-out goalscoring midfielder. He may well cost upwards of £30 million now that a manager-less Chelsea have decided to start a bidding war but it would be worth it. He is the answer to our midfield problems but I can see this transfer turning into a summer long saga, unfortunately.

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