The Premier League has experienced a positive affection for Spanish midfield maestros who have taken the English game by storm in the past five seasons.
It then comes as a surprise to note that Manchester United have achieved success without one, though not for want of trying as Sir Alex Ferguson tried in vain to sign Xabi Alonso whilst he was still at Real Sociedad.
David Moyes seems to have recognized this upon taking over from Sir Alex. He had reasonable success with Mikel Arteta at Everton. Aside from this, most of the top six clubs in England have had at least one Spanish playmaker in the last few years: Liverpool – the aforementioned Alonso; Arsenal – previously Cesc Fabregas, now Santi Cazorla and Arteta; Manchester City – David Silva; Chelsea – Juan Mata.
The other exception to United has been Spurs although it must be said Luka Modric’s style and size make him fit in readily well into the Spanish prototype.
Little wonder then that Moyes has been linked with Cesc Fabregas and also with Thiago Alcantara. Whilst the La Masia academy has churned out plenty of stars other Spanish clubs have produced gems with Valencia producing both Mata and Silva and Villareal producing Cazorla.
Well one of their major attributes is their ease and comfort on the ball. The Spanish ‘armadas’ tend to possess a generally low centre of gravity, excellent ball control in closed spaces and immense creativity in the form of a killer pass, and an eye for goal.
While Alonso and Xavi and Javi Martinez tend to make long range passes more often they all possess excellent shots from distance. After the 2011 UEFA Champions League, Wayne Rooney pronounced Andres Iniesta as the best player in the world, a statement made all the more astounding when you consider the talents of Xavi and Lionel Messi.
But from those available, who would best fit the bill for Moyes at Manchester United? The current transfer window has thrown up intriguing possibilities and we take a look at just three of them:
The recent graduate of La Masia is a youngster with immense potential and one of the. Alcantara is more in the mould of an Iniesta rather than Xavi but still possesses an excellent passing range and can be moulded to play in the deeper role.
Aged just 21 and with a crowded midfield at the Nou Camp to contend with, he may be tempted by a move to Manchester.
This La Masia graduate would really set the hearts pulsing if a move to Old Trafford could be engineered. Reportedly frustrated at the lack of game time and at an age where most footballers would be hitting their peak, his is the curious case of a club wanting a player because they feel by right he belongs to them but in essence is not an absolute necessity.
Considering the noises the Barca camp (officials and players alike) made to engineer his return and the lack of starts he has endured, it all raises suspicion that Barca were afraid of him coming to haunt them in a certain white attire of a hated rival.
That aside, this is probably the player who alongside a midfield enforcer would steer United towards an elusive third Champions League title, not to mention continued dominance in the Premier League. Fabregas is not more Xavi, not more iniesta but more Paul Scholes.
Not since Scholes was in his peak have United had a midfielder who plunders 20-plus goals a season and Cesc would fit the bill. When his stock began to rise, Arsene Wenger anointed him as the new Paul Scholes and even then, few argued.
Proven in the Premier League and made captain at the tender age of 21 for Arsenal, this is a move which would break the Gunners hearts in the same manner as the Robin van Persie one and indeed Arsenal would have a say in the transfer.
But the lure of playing full time with proven winners and an old friend in familiar territory may prove to be the clincher and unlike at the Nou Camp, Moyes will certainly build the team around him.
Alongside Mario Gotze of Dortmund, Francisco Alarcon Suarez to give him his full name, is one I rate as the best young player in Europe and his stock has continued to rise with Malaga’s scintillating run to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Blessed with a lightning turn and shot, a penetrating run and the ability to provide an excellent foil in attack, Isco is an exciting youngster who surprisingly has not created a stampede from the top clubs in Europe apart from half-hearted enquiries from Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
If United were to get him. Isco is a player closer to Rooney with a touch of the Scholes in him rather than Xavi and Iniesta.
From all this, the quest for a Spanish playmaker to lead United’s creative lines is ever more important. David Moyes’ work is certainly cut out and he needs to make an impressive foray in the transfer market if he is maintain Manchester United’s dominance in the game.
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