Do Manchester United already have replacements for Vidic and Ferdinand?

Chris Smalling Scores Against Chelsea

Manchester United boss David Moyes is reportedly seeking defensive reinforcements this summer, but does he need them?

The beleaguered United boss will hit the transfer market with vigour in the summer in order to turn the Red Devils from Europa League candidates back in to title contenders, with a full scale squad overhaul predicted at Old Trafford at the end of this season.

That overhaul will involve the departures of long-serving central defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, which may be somewhat daunting as they have become such firm fan favourites during their time at the club, but the time is right to move on given that they are 32 and 35 years old respectively.

Vidic has already agreed to join Serie A side Inter Milan upon the expiration of his contract in July, whilst Ferdinand has been linked with a move to USA as MLS teams eye up the former England international as a marquee signing.

But whilst a number of names – including Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, Bayern Munich's Dante and Villarreal's Mateo Musacchio have been linked with big money moves to Old Trafford, Moyes may be able to save his money for other positions after an impressive display by two of his existing centre backs.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both signed by previous manager Sir Alex Ferguson with a view to becoming the club's future defensive partnership, have been bit-part players for the majority of their time at the club, with both featuring at right back heavily rather than their natural position of centre back.

But with Vidic being 'phased out' ahead of his move to Italy, Jones and Smalling were given the chance to start together against West Bromwich Albion earlier today, and produced a performance that will give United fans hope that they already have their replacement for Vidic and Ferdinand.

Smalling showed the athleticism and reading of the game that was reminiscent of Ferdinand in his prime, whilst Jones offered the toughness and aerial threat that has made Vidic so popular at Old Trafford. There were a few shaky moments between the two, but that's to be expected from two defenders who are still relatively in experienced – after all, Smalling is 24 whilst Jones is still only 22.

It's worth noting that they were only facing West Brom, and will need to put in similar displays against a higher standard of opposition before they can truly be crowned the successors to Ferdinand and Vidic, but today's displays were encouraging to say the least.

image: © Paolo camera

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