Despite being top of the league and despite coming into some form in recent weeks, there is no doubt that Manchester United need strengthening in the summer.
The key area is midfield. While Michael Carrick and the returning Paul Scholes have done a fine job there this season, United are lacking a proper ball-winner as well as an attacking creator, in the middle of the park. If Paul Pogba decides to stay, they will have someone who is a real box-to-box threat, but I’m sure Sir Alex will still look to bring in one or two new faces.
Further up the pitch, it is likely that Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda and Michael Owen will all leave. United will probably bring in one replacement in that area, as they already have three other very good strikers.
But, you have to be quite good to play for Manchester United, and good players cost a lot of money these days – Manchester United don’t have much money. With the Glazer family sucking the club dry for the past few years, United have competed on a small budget compared to some of their rivals, so who will be available on the cheap this summer…
In Spain there are plenty of good players who are out-of-contract in the summer. Bruno at Valencia will be an attractive option for many clubs, however United have a very good set of defenders and I doubt anyone except an apprentice left-back would come in.
That person could be Lamine Gassama of Caen, in France. Gassama can play on the right of left of defence. He is very quick and is a naturally attacking full-back. He could be the perfect understudy to Patrice Evra, who also came to Old Trafford from French football. Evra has been on the decline for sometime now and although he is still a decent left-back who can be a massive threat going forward, I think Fergie should start looking to the future.
Elsewhere in France, Ludovic Obraniak of Lille and Ederson at Lyon will also have many suitors, I’m sure. Both are skilful midfielders who can play wide or centrally and specialise in opening up defences, either through pace or precision. I think Ederson in particular might be worth a look from the Old Trafford scouts, but if they are to bring in an attacking midfielder, I reckon it would be either an established superstar like Wesley Sneijder, or one of Europe’s sought after youngsters i.e. Mario Gotze and Eden Hazard.
In Germany there are an abundance of goalkeepers available on
Etienne Didot at Toulouse is a very interesting option. Didot is a ball-winning midfielder who can also play. He reminds me of a bit of Ever Banega for Valencia. Someone who is as comfortable protecting the back four, as he is in the number 10 position just behind the forwards. Didot is only 23 and I imagine a lot of clubs will be looking at him, United possibly amongst them.
In Germany, there are an abundance of goalkeepers available for free in the summer, but with David De Gea starting to find his feet, and Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos ready in reserve, it is unlikely that we will see a new ‘keeper at United for a long time.
Trabquillo Barnetta and Tim Borowski are both good experienced players who will attract interest from the Premier League, but a younger option would be Danijel Pranjic at Bayern Munich. Pranjic can play on the left side or central midfield, and can even fill in at left-back. He is a very talented player who has been linked with some top Premier Clubs before. He is definitely worth a look for United, but you have to ask yourself – If Bayern haven’t renewed his contract yet, then is he that good?
As far as the Premier League, goes there are two stand-out options that United should look at in my opinion. Junior Hoilett at Blackburn will have a very long line of clubs wanting to sign him, and United should be among them. Hoilett has been the bright spark in a poor season for Blackburn. The Lancashire club seem to be hitting some form and may escape relegation, but they will not escape losing their best player.
Hoilett can play off the central striker, or in a wide role on either side. His pace is a real threat and he is strong with both feet. He would provide extra competition for places at Old Trafford and could force Nani to return to form. As I said, he can also be used as an auxiliary front-man, which may be important should United get rid of some of their current strike-force.
The other option is a bit of a gamble – but we all love a gamble.
Didier Drogba is still yet to agree terms on a new deal at Chelsea, with the Ivorian holding our for a two-year contract. Despite being 33, and clearly not the player he was three years ago, Drogba would be a very interesting option.
Moving to United would interest him and playing with player like Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia, Drogba would score lots of goals. United could offer him a two-year deal, but on a play-as-you-play deal similar to that of Michael Owen, only Drogba will be a lot more effective over his two years.
I really think United should look into this. It could be a massive coup and one which has been seen before at Old Trafford. Owen, and before him Henrik Larsson were surprise signings for United, but both offered something different. A motivated Didier Drogba could be one gamble that pays big!
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