Sneijder, Fabragas, Modric, Herrera, Thiago.
All of these big names have two things in common: They are all world-class central midfielders and were all linked with a move to Manchester United this summer.
David Moyes has made no secret of the fact he wanted to strengthen United’s midfield, but having signed Marouane Fellaini from Everton, are the Red Devils now strong enough in that area?
Traditionally, United have always played two central midfielders.
The retirement of Paul Scholes was always going to be a huge moment, as the only two players to have successfully partnered Scholes were Roy Keane and Michael Carrick.
Luckily for United, Carrick is still at the peak of his powers. A signing like Fabregas would almost have been a like-for-like replacement for Scholes – but it was never going to happen.
In Fellaini United will get strength, aggression and a technically gifted player with a good understanding of the game – qualities the fans haven’t seen since Roy Keane left the club.
But what about a Scholes replacement?
Box-to-box midfielders seem to be a dying breed; Everton’s Ross Barkley has the potential to be one of the greats along with Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard, but aside from him there are few others with that kind of energy and creativity around.
David Moyes may have failed to find a direct replacement for Scholes but he now has more midfield options than Sir Alex Ferguson ever had in his tenure. United are now will equipped to play a diamond midfield four or a central three of Carrick, Fellaini and Kagawa. Michael Carrick now has the ability to dictate the tempo of games similarly to Scholes, while Kagawa has the creative mindset Scholes gave United for many years in attack.
In the future Wayne Rooney may play in the Scholes role. After watching Rooney play in central midfield during last season’s Champions League; former United player John Giles said it was the most complete midfield performance he had ever seen. “He has the making of a world class midfield player,” Giles told Irish radio station Newstalk.
Back in the present things certainly are not as bad as they seem at Old Trafford. Having cruised to a 20th League title last season with an under-strength midfield – United are now better equipped than ever to retain their title.
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