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Future Manchester United XI: 2015/16

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Manchester United are approaching a crossroads - they've completed the era-defining managerial handover and now their squad is closing in on a similar changing-of-the-guard evolutionary revamp.

Sir Alex Ferguson left David Moyes a few hospital passes - chiefly the lingering Wayne Rooney situation.

But he also left a squad caught between two stages of its development - an experienced core that's reached its peak and is now declining, and a young, talented but raw collection of promising youngsters.

We're talking about the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, and Nemanja Vidic versus Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Rafael.

Bridging the gap between the two sub-sets in the squad is one player, maybe two (Wayne Rooney, possibly Robin Van Persie).

All are first-team players, but projecting out two years into the future - how many will still be regulars in the starting XI?

Assuming David Moyes is still the manager, we've put together a potential Manchester United XI for the start of the 2015/16 season.

Let us know what you think...

David De Gea

No concern over this position, the Spaniard has clearly established himself as the club's number one - and interest from Barcelona permitting - he's a lock to be at the club for at least the next ten years.

Rafael

Depending on the development of Guillermo Varela, Moyes may have a selection headache here. Rafael has improved immensely over the past 12 months - last season he played more than 16 Premier League matches for the first time in his career.

In total he made 28 appearances for the Red Devils, and looks a good bet to hold down the Old Trafford right-back spot for years to come. 

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will not be a threat - neither sees right-back as their best position, and they're right.

Phil Jones

Identified by Sir Alex Ferguson as potentially Manchester United's greatest ever player, Jones has plenty to live up to.

Centre-back is thought to be his long-term home, and if he lives up to the hype, he will replace one of Vidic or Ferdinand.

Mats Hummels

Now, there's one centre-back opening at this point in 2015. Vidic and Ferdinand have either retired or now contribute Ryan Giggs-style off the bench.

Chris Smalling has not emerged as a Champions League-calibre defender (the benchmark for any United centre-back).

Like Jonny Evans, the England international remains an extremely solid replacement, a useful substitute. But he is not an elite defender.

That means United need to buy someone (the fact they've been linked with so many centre-backs suggests United feel the same way about Evans and Smalling).

The best available would be Hummels - the alternative seems to be Ezequiel Garay. The Dortmund star could be tempted to the Premier League, and at 24-years-old fits the mould of a United signing - young, good re-sale value, world-class potential. 

Luke Shaw

Another who fits that same criteria - Shaw is still a teenager, has the potential to build on his already impressive performances in England's toughest league, and would possess considerable sell-on value.

Forget Leighton Baines - he'll be 29 by the time the January transfer window rolls around. United should wait for Shaw next summer instead.

Nick Powell

One of Ferguson's last summer purchases, Powell was snapped up from Crewe, scored a good goal against Wigan and was promptly forgotten about.

Now on loan with the Latics, the 19-year-old is showing off his excellent technique, attacking ability and eye for goal at the DW Stadium.

He's got all the tools to become a top central midfielder, but he needs to be better than the 'next Tom Cleverley' if he wants to nail down a place in the first-team.

Fortunately, he's got a lot more potential than his United teammate - just check out that goal he scored in his final match for Crewe at Wembley Stadium.

Giannelli Imbula

A wildcard pick, this one. Imbula recently moved to Marseille from Guingamp, and he's been brilliant. 

The 21-year-old is a complete defensive midfielder, an accurate passer, strong tackler and quick across the ground. Arsenal were linked, but with Manchester United lacking a hard-headed midfield presence, Imbula should be the target.

Because Marouane Fellaini is clearly not cut out for the role. He's best causing havoc in the opposition third, and he could still have an important job off the bench for this side as a replacement for Shinji Kagawa.

Shinji Kagawa

The Japan international is a tease. He flashes genius every now and then, gives a little taste to an Old Trafford crowd desperate for him to be everything they though he was.

And given time, we think he'll get there. Again, he was good in patches against Real Sociedad. But we think in this midfield three he could have the license to flourish.

Imbula does the dirty work in the holding role, Powell a roaming presence with quality on the ball and Kagawa free to jink and dart into black holes on the Old Trafford turf.

Adnan Januzaj

The golden boy should be positively gleaming by 2015. United tied him down to a five-year contract last-week, after a stunning match-winning performance against Sunderland heralded his arrival.

He's already the saviour of Manchester United's season in the eyes of many, so God knows what it'll be like in two years time. We expect more of the stuff we've already seen - technically perfect goals, eye-of-the-needle passes and stupid hats.

Wayne Rooney

A 30-year-old Wayne Rooney will still be the main man at Old Trafford. His problem was never with Moyes, and the retirement of Ferguson has allowed Rooney to get back to doing what he does best - score goals.

By this time, he'll be closing in on Sir Bobby Charlton's scoring record of 249.

Robin van Persie

Van Persie will be 32 at the beginning of the 2015 season, but we think his ability ages well. He's never relied on his pace, so he could continue to ride the 20-goal-a-season wagon for a few years yet.

They'll be a few snapping at his heels though. Javier Hernandez will have probably moved on after failing to crack the Rooney-RVP axis, but Danny Welbeck is a Manchester United fan born and bred.

And the England international will get plenty of opportunities in this side, with Rooney, Januzaj and Kagawa all interchangeable behind Van Persie.

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