Louis van Gaal has stated that in an ideal world the formation he would use is 4-3-3, with a holding midfielder and a number ten player behind the strikers.
However, due to what he calls “imbalances” in his current squad, the Dutchman tinkered between a traditional back four and a system with three centre backs during his first season at Manchester United.
Therefore, as United look set to be active in the transfer market this summer, it’s likely that Memphis Depay won’t be the only newcomer to the club as Van Gaal aims to construct a more balanced squad.
Will David de Gea swap Old Trafford for the Bernabeu? Will the club allow Robin van Persie and Angel di Maria to leave? Will Nathaniel Clyne sign a new contract with Southampton?
If all these questions get answered over the coming weeks, then Manchester United could line up for the 2015-16 season like this...
Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris (Age: 28)
The Frenchman, one of the world’s best keepers, is crying out for Champions League football and that’s something that Tottenham currently can’t provide.
Should De Gea depart for Real Madrid, Lloris would be more than capable of filling his shoes.
Right Back – Nathaniel Clyne (Age: 24)
The Englishman is fast becoming one of the Premier League’s best defenders and has made no secret of his desire to play football at the highest level.
Whether his current side Southampton can develop into a renowned name in European competition or the lure of bigger clubs will tempt Clyne away from St Mary’s remains to be seen.
Centre Back – Chris Smalling (Age: 25)
Smalling was the only central defender to really step up and grasp the opportunity created by the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, so much so that Van Gaal appointed him as captain of the side against Arsenal in the absence of Wayne Rooney in United’s final home game of the 2014-15 campaign.
Centre Back – Nicolas Otamendi (Age: 27)
The Argentine enjoyed a fantastic first season in La Liga, starting 35 matches, being named in the league’s team of the season and even scoring six goals as Valencia ensured that Champions League football would return to the Mestalla.
With his dominant aerial prowess, his reported openness to a move this summer, and the fact that current United defender and fellow Argentine Marcos Rojo has recently hinted on social media that Otamendi may sign, Old Trafford could be the perfect destination for all parties involved.
Left Back – Daley Blind (Age: 25)
You know exactly what you get with this Dutch international who is loaded with versatility and technical ability.
Whether Blind plays as a left back or operates as a holding midfielder, his awareness, intelligence and assuredness on the ball bring a much needed calming influence to United’s play and allow the side to dominate ball possession.
Central Midfield - Ander Herrera (Age: 25)
With his high work rate, technical qualities and ability to score from midfield, Herrera has already become a massive fans favourite at Old Trafford.
From his spectacular volley at Yeovil in the FA Cup to the fantastic displays he produced towards the back end of his debut season at the club, in which he netted on eight occasions, there’s little doubt that the Spaniard is assured of regular first team football in the 2015-16 season.
Central Midfield – Michael Carrick (Age: 33)
At 33 years of age, Carrick is still arguably United’s most important player because it is so evident that he’s missing when he doesn’t play.
Since the retirement of legendary midfield maestro Paul Scholes, it has been Carrick who has dictated the tempo at which United play and he is the sort of player that is greatly appreciated amongst his teammates and by the fans for his incredible passing range, vision and reading of the game.
Central Midfield – Ilkay Gundogan (Age: 24)
This German midfielder has been on the radar of Manchester United for some time now, and due to the fact that his contract with Borussia Dortmund expires at the end of the 2015-16 season, they may be willing to let Gundogan leave this summer to avoid losing him on a free transfer, as was the case with Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski last summer.
No.10 – Wayne Rooney (Age: 29)
Rooney can pretty much play anywhere these days, but his best position is widely regarded as just off the front line. The United and England captain has been a talisman in every way possible and is bearing down on the all-time goal scoring records for both club and country.
Van Gaal appointed Rooney as his skipper, and the man who sports the No.10 jersey is the ideal player to link midfield with attack and lead United to silverware in 2015-16.
Forward – Memphis Depay (Age: 21)
Memphis Depay is one of European football’s hottest prospects and he finished his time at PSV Eindhoven not only with an Eredivisie winner’s medal, but as the league’s top goalscorer with 22 goals from 30 games.
Wherever he plays along the front line, Memphis will bring swagger, dynamism and speed to United’s attacking play that the likes of Van Persie and Falcao lacked last season.
Forward – Edinson Cavani (Age: 28)
Frustrated with playing in wide positions, Cavani wanted a change of system at PSG in the 2014-15 campaign which would see him actually partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic upfront instead of accommodating the Swede by playing out wide.
Although his wish didn’t fully materialise, Cavani still scored 31 times as PSG clinched a historic domestic treble and the Uruguayan is renowned as one of Europe’s most prolific centre forwards.
Could Cavani be the marquee signing that propels Manchester United to domestic and possibly even European glory? Or will it be someone entirely different, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger or Morgan Schneiderlin? Only time will tell.
How to you think Manchester United will line up next season?
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