What Manchester United’s starting XI may look like in 2015/16
Manchester United are still in the hunt for a return to Champions League football next season, as Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils, 11/4 to win the FA Cup, currently occupy the Premier League’s fourth spot.
A major shake-up could occur at the end of this current campaign, should the Dutch manager guide the Old Trafford outfit back among European’s elite. Tabloid rumours have been rife about players arriving in the red half of Manchester and those who could be shipped out in an overhaul.
Here’s what our football experts think about what United’s starting XI might look like on the opening day of next season. Do you agree with our line-up?
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Immovable from between the posts at Old Trafford, De Gea is without question the club’s number one, with a new contract being lined up. Victor Valdes will provide great cover for his Spanish teammate.
Right back: Seamus Coleman
The right back position is one which has sparked much debate, with a host of top names being linked, including Barcelona’s Dani Alves, plus Kyle Walker, Nathaniel Clynne and Danilo. However, Everton’s Irish counterpart Coleman has plenty of top-flight experience and could be a star performer, with the Toffees set for a bottom half finish this season, a cut-price deal is realistic.
Centre back: Mats Hummels
United’s Dutch boss has reportedly been a long admirer of Borussia Dortmund’s World Cup winning defender. The 26-year-old’s current side are struggling in the Bundesliga and a summer switch could be on the cards, if Van Gaal really pushes for his primary target.
Centre back: Marquinhos
PSG’s young Brazilian defender was heavily tipped for a move to United in January, but a deal never materialised. Van Gaal could look to Marquinhos in the summer to sure up his lacklustre backline. The arrival of a new defensive unit could spell the end of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones or Chris Smalling, with injuries and inconsistency halting their regular chances in the side.
Left back: Marcos Rojo
Argentina international Rojo was signed after a brilliant World Cup showing, but this term he has been deployed at centre back. The versatile defender is down the flanks and his future could lie in this position, with Luke Shaw having an underwhelming start to his career at the club.
Defensive midfield: Nigel de Jong
The AC Milan midfielder was part of Van Gaal’s Netherlands squad at the World Cup and a reunion with his former energetic central man is a distinct possibility. De Jong’s links with Manchester run deep, having featured for bitter rivals City earlier in his career, but his past commitments will not put the midfield enforcer off a transfer. Michael Carrick is ageing, with the versatile Daley Blind already an alternative option as midfield anchor.
Centre midfield: Angel Di Maria
Argentine attacker Di Maria sealed a reported £60m move last summer from Real Madrid, the highest profile arrival of last year’s transfer frenzy. His place should be cemented on the left side of midfield, with his brilliant bursting runs able to cause any defence problems. Box-to-box player Ander Herrera should stick around, though.
Centre midfield: Kevin Strootman
Despite picking up another serious knee injury, Strootman has been continuously linked to United. Roma’s Serie A star also worked under Van Gaal at international level, and is recovering from recent surgery. If a recovery isn’t maintained before the summer then the Red Devils boss may look to a more expensive option of Paul Pogba, a United academy graduate.
Attacking midfield: Juan Mata
United’s Spanish playmaker is an essential part of their attacking threat, with his flair and creativity making the team tick. If Van Gaal chooses to look elsewhere for an attacking midfielder then Ross Barkley or Kevin De Bruyne could be potential arrivals.
Striker: Mauro Icardi
Inter Milan’s deadly finisher has been sensational this term, and when he starts he tends to score. A quality that is missing in the present line-up, with Radamel Falcao misfiring and a permanent deal looking increasingly unlikely.
Striker: Wayne Rooney
Club captain Rooney is aiming to break goalscoring records in the next few seasons and is a sure starter for his side. However, Robin van Persie’s recent form has come under scrutiny, with Dutchman facing a possible departure. Palermo’s Pablo Dybala has also been long linked with a summer switch.