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Five midfield alternatives for Manchester United

Phil Jones And Thierry Henry

If United do sign a player in January who should it be? We have drawn up a shortlist of five names and added some other potentials. But do they need one?

Recently we ran an article on the lack of success that Manchester United achieve when operating a midfield pairing of Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs. The statistic that United have only won 59 per cent of games with them in the side as opposed to a 82 per cent victory ratio without them gave credence to such claims. After the performance against Norwich City that fact seems to be getting clearer.

But on paper Scholes, Giggs, Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverley, Kagawa, Anderson what is the problem?

When you consider the age of Giggs and Paul Scholes; not to mention Carrick himself who recently turned 31 and has been iffy at times this season; Shinji Kagawa is more an advanced man leaving Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley the main midfield men.

Anderson doesn’t seem to be a favourite of Sir Alex and Darren Fletcher is tip-toeing back into action after ulcerative colitis. As good as Cleverley is, do United need a more mobile ball winner in the centre of the park?

If they do here are some potential options…

Kevin Strootman

This is the deal currently doing the rounds in the media with various Dutch outlets reporting a deal is done behind closed doors and he will arrive in January. He fits the bill of course and is also versatile enough to be able to operate from the left-hand side. Worth £14 million though?

Youssouf Mulumbu

Now hear me out on this one as it is a bit of a stretching shout I know. The West Brom midfielder is an incredible ball winner. Not many players in the league have retained possession better than the Congolese midfielder. This season he has also started to showcase a great ability on the ball when surging forward and has been one of the league’s most consistent performers over the last three seasons.

Lewis Holtby

His contract expires in the summer and in the past United have appeared to come from nowhere to snap a player up from rivals noses. Bayern Munich, Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal have all been linked with the German international. While he reportedly favours a move to boyhood club Everton Manchester United would be silly not to consider the 22-year-old. Considered to slow to be a winger early in his career he has adapted into a brilliant central midfield operator with excellent vision and tenacious qualities. A little like Owen Hargreaves just without the injuries.


If you want mobile ball-winners they don’t aren’t many who come more so than Shakhtar’s in demand midfield dynamo. With the lung capacity of a Tour cyclist he covers nearly every inch of every blade of grass in the Champions League and to top it off he is also an attacking threat with a delightful incisive through ball and long range shot in his locker.

Phil Jones?

Could the answer already be at United. Jones is obviously a highly talented player and while he clearly isn’t a right-back (nosebleeds galore in the final third) it has been noted on several occasions that his best possession is in the heart of midfield. Now he is finally returning to full fitness is he the answer to any midfield shortage, at least till the end of the season.

Other options include Victor Wanyama, Lars Bender and Yohan Cabaye…

Manchester United rarely move for players in January but should they break that habit this season?

Do United need another midfielder?

image: © nasmac

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