Manchester United would be making a huge mistake if they let experienced midfielder Michael Carrick leave the club in the summer.
The 34-year-old, who is yet to be offered a new contract, remains an integral member of the squad and could also still feature for England at another major tournament when Roy Hodgson picks his 23-man squad for Euro 2016.
And though Louis van Gaal has been guilty of getting many things wrong during his stint at the club, allowing Carrick to leave would rank as one of his biggest mistakes given the way the midfielder continues to perform despite his advancing years.
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Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 the club have found themselves losing their most experienced players, with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra all leaving for new challenges.
And while the likes of Daley Blind, Chris Smalling and Marcus Rojo have all helped fill the void, their weaknesses remain evident particularly with the club battling to secure Champions League football.
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Carrick succeeded Darren Fletcher as vice-captain after the Scot was sold to Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion last year, and despite struggling with injuries United look a better team with him in the starting line-up.
The former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder has been linked with a move to Arsenal, and Van Gaal must do his utmost to ensure Carrick does not end up plying his trade at the Emirates Stadium next year.
United allowed Paul Scholes to retire in 2012 despite the midfielder continuing to shine; though Ferguson managed to convince him to return it came too late as the club were beaten by Manchester City to the league title.
Carrick remains a token of the sides that used to battle for the crown year in year out, and alongside Wayne Rooney and Smalling ranks as one of the most senior figures at the club.
The arrivals of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera were meant to ease the burden on his shoulders, yet the trio are yet to replicate the form they all displayed at their previous clubs.
Van Gaal sold Angel di Maria, wasted Javier Hernandez and allowed Danny Welbeck to join Arsenal, but letting Carrick leave would be the biggest mistake of his managerial career.
His experience has been paramount in United’s late surge towards the top four, and would be extremely missed if they manage to pip City and West Ham United to the final Champions League spot.
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