Manchester United boss David Moyes is expected to spend big this summer after a troublesome debut season in charge at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils have been linked with a number of British prospects coming through for England, Scotland and Ireland with youngsters from Moyes’ former club Everton expected to be on his wish list as well as the top performers at Southampton this term.
Despite bringing in club record signing Juan Mata in January, the Red Devils still seem to lack creativity and direction in midfield as well as being uncharacteristically lacklustre in wide areas.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has in his side one of the most exciting English midfield talents since Jack Wilshere burst on the scene three years ago in 20-year-old Ross Barkley - who Moyes knows well from his time with the Toffees.
The England senior international has scored five goals and made one assist across 28 appearances in the Premier League this term but how does he compare to the more experienced World Cup hopeful in the Saints’ Adam Lallana?
The 25-year-old is hardly a youngster but has only just managed to catch the eye of England boss Roy Hodgson this term and it’s no wonder given his nine goals and eight assists for the Saints across 32 appearances in the league.
If Moyes had his pick it would be a cumbersome decision – whilst I suspect he would go for Barkley due to his previous work with the youngster, Lallana would certainly represent more of a ‘finished product’. However, I would also imagine Barkley could very well improve beyond Lallana’s current ability in the next five years.
Ireland international James McCarthy was brought to Goodison Park by Martinez last summer from Wigan where he impressed since arriving as a 19-year-old in 2009. His five years working with the Spanish coach have made him and exciting and dangerous midfielder, who has the flexibility to play wide but how does he compare to Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez?
Rodriguez is a different kind of player – a forward or winger who definitely has the capacity to function as a centre-forward or No.10 in the future. At 24-years-old, like Lallana he is not exactly a youngster but has just burst on to the international scene with the Three Lions.
He has scored a superb tally of 15 goals and made three assists in the Premier League this term under Mauricio Pochettino and is also vying for a seat on the plane to Brazil this summer.
What Moyes is known certainly to be after is a fullback – he wanted Leighton Baines, of course, but he has recently also been linked with Seamus Coleman while he is also said keen on Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, along with every other top club in the league.
Shaw has been the standout performer this term as far as English youngsters go and his valuation is likely to reflect that. At just 18, he is steadfastly becoming the certain replacement for the next decade for Ashley Cole ahead of Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose and Kieran Gibbs.
Who, who should Moyes pick from that bunch?
I think for the top-level Champions League side United will want to be for the future, Barkley would get my vote over Lallana because he can improve beyond the Saints’ star’s current level and Moyes knows the player well already.
Rodriguez is also a good option – he can create and cause danger and would suit the kind of style of play Moyes is trying to introduce at Old Trafford and when it comes to a fullback, there is no better option than Shaw. I’d pick him over Baines, Fabio Coentrao or any other fullback United have been linked with, including Coleman.
I could definitely see a starting XI of the future along the lines of:
De Gea – Rafael – Jones – Evans – Shaw – Barkley – Mata – Januzaj – Rodriguez – Rooney – Welbeck