Who can replace Michael Carrick?
Michael Carrick, the midfield anchor who brings a calming presence to the United side, is nearing the end of his career. Carrick has struggled with injury throughout the current campaign, and nearing the age of 34, it is possible that his best years are behind him. The Everton defeat further exemplified the impact Carrick has on this team and since it is questionable whether he will play week in and week out, Louis Van Gaal needs to find a suitable replacement.
Current United Players:
Daley Blind– Blind has proved serviceable at CDM, but does not bring the same calming influence and composure that Carrick does. Blind was also left exposed against Everton, failing to make big tackles and break up possession the way a proper defensive mid should. Despite impressive performances during the beginning of the campaign, Blind does not possess the same type of qualities as Michael Carrick. Blind does have a long future ahead of him at the club but it is questionable as to where his best position may be.
Ander Herrera– Herrera is a typical centre mid who can play a variety of roles, but it seems that Carrick’s role may not properly suit the Spaniard. Herrera is best when he has license to go forward and has defensive cover from the likes of Carrick or Blind. Although a great tackler, Herrera’s qualities are wasted when he is left playing a much deeper role. Against Chelsea, Herrera seemed to be the player that could fill Carrick’s shoes, dropping deeper, playing in front of the back four. He did put in a decent shift but gave the ball away too often in position and didn’t perform the defensive tasks as well as Michael Carrick does.
Wayne Rooney– Many argue that Rooney’s future may be in central midfield, but for the time being it is necessary that he keeps his natural position. Throughout the current season when Rooney has played centre mid there has been a lack of quality up front. Rooney may play centre mid regularly once he reaches a certain age, but it seems as if he is more suited for an attacking position.
Possible transfer targets:
Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund)– Gundogan has been regularly linked with a move to United within the past year or so and recently gossip surrounding the Dortmund midfielder has gained some ground. Gundogan isn’t necessarily a holding midfielder by trade, but he has played the position 17 times during the current Bundesliga season. He is a very strong passer of the ball but isn’t that great of a tackler. Gundogan also suffered a terrible injury and faced over a year on the sidelines, but he is only 24 years old and has appeared to have gotten past his injury troubles. He is an experienced national team player and has attracted interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal. There is no doubting his quality, however it is questionable as to whether his game would translate to the Premier League and also if he can become a good enough tackler to stay injury free in the English game.
Paul Pogba (Juventus)– Pogba is one of Ferguson’s biggest regrets; he has turned into one of the world’s best young midfielders and United let him go for free during the last few years of the legend’s reign. He is coveted by all of Europe’s elite and would cost a large sum of money likely greater than the club record fee, that was paid for Angel Di Maria. However, Pogba has proved that he can tackle, score wonderful goals and succeed in the Champions League, as well as on an international level. But, Pogba is not a defensive midfielder by trade so, if he were to join, Van Gaal may have to consider a change of formation to accommodate a player of Pogba’s likeness.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)– I could never see this happening but it is worth putting the Southampton boy on the list, as he has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League this season. Schneiderlin has the tools to become a proper midfielder for a Champions League side but it does not appear that he would fit into the current United team. He is more suited for a team like Tottenham or one of the non-English Champions League teams like Porto who regularly contends for the league title in a less competitive division.
Kevin Strootman (Roma)– Strootman was, until his terrible injury, the Michael Carrick of Louis Van Gaal’s Dutch side. He is a defensive minded midfielder who performs similarly to Carrick and is one of Van Gaal’s favorite players. It almost seemed guaranteed that Strootman would join in the near future until he suffered more injury setbacks and made only a handful of appearances for Roma this season. However he is only 25 years old and if he is able to recover from injury I think he would be the most likely candidate to replace Carrick.
I believe that, because of Strootman’s injury problems, Van Gaal will most likely attempt to lure Ilkay Gundogan to Old Trafford. There is a possibility that this very well could happen, as Dortmund have struggled immensely and are changing managers this summer. If Strootman were to miraculously recover from injury, look for Van Gaal to submit a bid right away for one of his favorites.