Who will Man Utd sign to replace Michael Carrick?
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have both vowed that it will be a relatively quiet summer on the transfer front with less ‘churn’ to the squad than in recent years, but the elephant in the room is the need to find a replacement for Michael Carrick.
Carrick, who has been granted a testimonial match for June, is out of contract in the summer and yet to be offered a new deal. He will turn 36 before the start of next season, but has still been an important figure during the current campaign. He has clocked up 22 appearances in all competitions – despite having been out of favour at the start of the season – and United frequently lack an attacking edge in his absence.
So, whether he ultimately signs a 12-month extension or not, how do United set about replacing Michael Carrick? Here are five potential candidates.
The Real Madrid man, aged 28, came within a whisker of joining United when he left Bayern Munich in 2014, but eventually opted for a switch to the Bernabeu. The United links have resurfaced in recent weeks, which suggests the Germany international might be on Mourinho’s radar.
Swapping 6ft 2in Carrick for 5ft 5in Veratti might be an issue when defending set pieces, but the Paris Saint-Germain star promises to replace the veteran midfielder in every other aspect. The 24-year-old boasts a good passing range and technical ability, while he is also combative enough to get stuck in at the base of midfield. A couple of injury-hit seasons in succession would be cause for concern.
In stature and style of play, this dream signing would be just about as close to a straight swap as United could muster. One-club man Busquets, aged 28, has been on Barcelona’s books since 2005 and has clocked up 417 appearances. Could the managerial upheaval at Camp Nou give United a chance to pounce? Doubtful, but worth a try.
Robin van Persie, Edwin van der Sar, Laurent Blanc, Bastian Schweinsteiger: United have never been afraid of bringing in a player approaching the latter stage of his career if they thought he could do a job. Spurs midfielder Dembele will be 30 before the start of next season, but has not shown any sign of decline yet. He would be a different, more powerful proposition than Carrick in the deep midfield role, but his passing statistics show that side of his game is not to be underestimated.
Jean Michael Seri
One from the left field and certainly not a player of the profile that matches recent United signings. That said Nice’s Ivorian midfielder boasts some impressive statistics so far this season. The 25-year-old has an 89.5 per cent pass completion rate, averages 80.5 passes per game, plays 0.4 through balls per game (which puts him in the top eight in Europe for that particular stat) and plays 4.6 long balls per game (which, given his handsome completion ratio, suggests a decent range).