Michael Carrick has been a staple member of Manchester United’s midfield since 2006 but it is only over the last three seasons that the quiet but effective job he performs in the engine room has been appreciated fully.
Now he is 33 years old, Carrick surely only has one or two years at the top level left in him, meaning Louis van Gaal must be on the lookout for a long-term replacement, especially after an injury-plagued season for the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder.
According to Canal+ in France, Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is ‘very close’ to becoming that man. He has had a stellar two seasons in the Premier League with the Saints and is hot property this summer as he looks to play Champions League football.
Schneiderlin is a combative midfielder, who can read the game superbly and has become an expert interceptor and tackler. He is disciplined and fits the mould of a Van Gaal enforcer as he is extremely comfortable on the ball.
But how do Schneiderlin and Carrick compare? When he has been fit, Carrick has been a vital presence in United’s midfield, regularly breaking up play and acting as United’s chief creator from deep areas of the pitch, in the mould of a regista.
In terms of per 90 minutes played, Carrick has maintained a 90% passing accuracy in his 18 league appearances compared to Schneiderlin’s 89%. The experienced United midfielder also wins 57% of his aerial duels compared to the Frenchman’s 45%.
However, Schneiderlin’s major strengths lie in breaking up play, which is exactly what United will be looking for in any acquisition in that area of the pitch. At just 25, Schneiderlin is just reaching his peak and can still improve. His all round game means he has the potential to become a leading defensive midfielder in Europe.
Schneiderlin’s 2.59 interceptions per 90 trump Carrick’s 1.91 as do his 3.25 tackles per 90 to the England internationals 1.17. The Southampton enforcer is all-action and is constantly sniffing out opposition attacks.
In terms of going forward, Schneiderlin has slightly more to his game. He creates 0.82 chances per 90 to Carrick’s 0.49 and has scored four times this season.
Although Carrick has been a fantastic servant to United and a key figure in their midfield this season, Schneiderlin’s age and form over the last two seasons mean he would be an upgrade and the Red Devils would be smart to pay for his services this summer.