Five in, five out, shake it all about in Man Utd summer overhaul
It is fair to say that David Moyes’ tenure at Manchester United has got off to a bit of a false-start. The defending Premier League champions currently lie in seventh position and 12 points off fourth place, and with just 11 games to go for the season, they only have odds of 10/1 to finish in the Champions League places.
Not since the 1990/91 campaign – the maiden season of Ryan Giggs’ senior career – in the old First Division have the Red Devils finished even out of the top three. They came sixth that year, but still managed to win the now abolished UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup against Barcelona.
United know that the current season is over, with just the Champions League their only slim hope of winning silverware (40/1). So Moyes (odds of 9/2 to be next Premier League manager to leave), or whoever is in charge in the summer, will need to make drastic changes to the squad in order to challenge for major honours again. Here are five ins and outs that could help Man Utd’s chances.
Shinji Kagawa out, Paul Pogba in
Although not a like-for-like replacement for Kagawa, United now have the likes of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj to play in the central attacking midfield role. The Japanese star was supposed to be the answer to linking up between midfield and the forwards, but his talents have gone completely to waste since a £14m transfer two summers ago.
Kagawa’s first season at the club was promising but a knee injury, that sidelined him for two months, halted his progress. This term, he has managed just nine games in the league, scoring none and providing just one assist. It looks like his confidence is shattered and now time to go. United could still get some good money for the 24-year-old or even use him as a makeweight for players at his former club Borussia Dortmund.
Former Red Devil Pogba, younger brother of Crewe Alexandra forward Mathias, has certainly established himself since leaving for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012. The seven-capped France international has played in all but one league games for the Italian champions this season, scoring six and setting up eight.
Powerful midfield all-rounder Pogba is exactly what United currently need, and they should do anything to bring the 20-year-old back home. Despite his reported falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson, he knows the club well, having been there for three years, and would have a point to prove. Even with a price tag of around £40m, United should not pass up the opportunity.
Robin van Persie out, Toni Kroos in
Yes, another middle of the park player to replace an attacker, and this may be the most controversial. However, with reports of Van Persie’s poor attitude in training, now may be the best time to offload and allow Javier Hernandez to finally get the game time his talent deserves.
The Dutch captain’s distracting influence could be the ideal opportunity to cash in on a player who turns 31 before the start of next season. His 37 league goals in 54 games since moving to Old Trafford have no doubt been impressive, but the club lack discipline and respect, it seems, since Ferguson’s retirement.
United’s midfield is the big problem, and the additions of Pogba and £25m-rated Kroos, to compliment Michael Carrick, would do the club wonders. The German’s contract, which runs out in 2015, has yet to be extended by Bayern Munich and there have been more and more talks surrounding Kroos’ future.
Nemanja Vidic out, Mats Hummels in
With Vidic departing in the summer to Inter Milan, United have an immense task ahead of them to replace their legendary captain. The Serb has helped the club win five Premier League titles and the Champions League since joining back in 2006, and Moyes can’t cut corners when replacing him. United need an established star.
Dortmund’s giant ball-playing defender Hummels has been a rumoured target for Man Utd, and his value of around £30m is certainly not too much to ask. The 25-year-old Dortmund star would be an ideal replacement for Vidic and likely departing Rio Ferdinand, but the only snag is the Germany international most likely wants Champions League football.
As mentioned earlier, Kagawa could be the man to broker any deal. However, current Borussia boss Jurgen Klopp is also being closely linked with a move to Old Trafford to replace Moyes if the Scot leaves, so Hummels may want to play under his eccentric manager once more if that is the case.
Patrice Evra out, Luke Shaw in
Evra is widely reported to follow his fellow Vidic out the Old Trafford doors in the summer, in similar vein to how they joined together. Although the 32-year-old Frenchman’s departure is not yet confirmed, Man Utd have been exploring the continent looking for a replacement, with the likes of Fabio Coentrao and Leighton Baines heavily linked.
Southampton’s Shaw, however, seems to fit the bill. The 18-year-old, who recently received his maiden England call-up, has impressed high-profile suitors with his outstandingly consistent and mature displays, as he has helped his side to the top half of the table so far this season.
Shaw’s hefty price tag of around £22.5m would be a punt for the 20-time top-flight champions, but United do pride themselves on having an English/British Isles contingent, and the left back (9/4 to make the World Cup squad) certainly seems ready to make the next step up at club level. He is a boyhood Chelsea fan, however, and the Londoners look likely to rival any bid made in the summer.
Nani out, Marco Reus in
Another Dortmund player in Reus, along with Ilkay Gundogan, has been linked with Man Utd. The winger re-signed for his hometown club in 2012 and has been in prolific form ever since. Last season, Reus managed an impressive 14 goals and 11 assists from 32 Bundesliga matches – this term eight and nine respectively in 21 so far – and those statistics will no doubt attract goal-shy United.
With Nani continuing to decline both in form and condition at the club, it looks as if he will be shipped out in the summer to make way for a replacement, with 24-year-old Reus a fantastic and realistic choice.
Julian Draxler and Antoine Griezmann have both been linked with moves to United, but are still untried on the biggest stage to a certain extent. Whereas Reus has 19 Germany caps to his name and has played in a Champions League final.
Other players such as Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young would all be ideal departures as well, but too much of a shake up at United could make things worse.
The club still do have players out on loan to come back and challenge for first-team places next season in the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Nick Powell, Angelo Henriquez and, and to a lesser extent, Homeless World Cup legend Bebe.