So, Manchester United have just won their 20th top-flight title. Hats off to them, they've been the most consistent team in the Premier League this season and they thoroughly deserve it.
Season after season Sir Alex Ferguson manages to assemble a squad of players capable of challenging for the title, and this season has been no different. This squad however, will by no means be recognised as ‘one of the greats’ and the reason for this is simple, Manchester United’s current crop of midfielders do not stand up to those of the past. It’s been said many a time, but since the departure of Roy Keane United haven’t had that aggressive edge that he provided in the middle of the park.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Michael Carrick has been magnificent for the Red Devils this campaign and whilst Tom Cleverly has impressed in certain matches neither player has that ability to break down opposition attacks, win the ball back and then carry it forward with power and strength. Which is why in this article, we’ll be looking at five players who could solve the problem that has blighted United since 2005.
Currently plying his trade in the Eredivise, Kevin Strootman is arguably the perfect fit for this role at United. He’s a tough tackling box-to-box midfielder who gets himself about the pitch, breaking up opposition attacks then distributing the ball to his team mates with speed and accuracy.
The Dutchman’s physique and strength would also be a huge asset to Manchester United, considering the Premier League is one of the most physically demanding leagues in the world.
Strootman is also becoming a regular in the Dutch international team, which can only help the youngster’s progress as he looks to develop into one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
Victor Wanyama played a prominent role in Celtic's impressive Champions League campaign this season, with stand-out performances coming against Barcelona and Spartak Moscow.
The strong Kenyan’s ability and awareness have seen the player’s stock increase significantly. With not only United vying for his signature, but other Premier League top-guns like Arsenal and Chelsea.
Wanyama’s strength and determination are key characteristics that would see him flourish in a defensive midfield role at Old Trafford and his young age means he could go on to become one of the greats, an attractive proposition for any player.
The 22-year-old German midfielder shone for Borussia Dortmund in their 4-1 thrashing of Spanish giants Real Madrid and I’m sure he would have been in the headlines more had it not been for Robert Lewandowski’s four goals.
Gundogan is a real threat on the counter attack, using his superb dribbling and passing skills to seek out his more forward thinking team-mates. His ability to keep a high level of concentration for an entire 90 minutes is a quality that every manager would want to see in a player in that position.
In a recent interview the German revealed he would relish the opportunity to play in England or Spain
"My objective is to play in Spain or England." Gundogan told AS.
"Without a doubt I am happy here, but I have a plan for my career. I don't know what will happen in the future, but what I do know is I desire to play in one of these two countries."
Marouane Fellaini is a name the majority of you will know all too well. His performances against United over the years have been impressive, Everton’s 4-4 draw at Old Trafford in the 2011-2012 season being a stand out game for the Belgian international.
Fellaini’s height and strength give him a huge advantage over most players in the centre of the park. The midfielder also has an eye for goal, scoring 12 times for The Toffee’s this season. Sir Alex will have to act quickly to bring in this potential missing piece though, with Chelsea keen on acquiring the talented player’s services.
Gonalons may be more of an unknown name to some of you; the French midfielder has been quietly patrolling Lyon’s midfield for the last few seasons with greater authority as each match passes.
The 24-year-old has a big physical presence and isn’t afraid to go in for a tackle, he’ll put his body on the line to break up attacks and give his defenders the protection they at times need.
The French international impressed during games against Tottenham in this seasons Europa League campaign and has since caught the eye of Arsenal.
If Manchester United want to create a more balanced midfield for next seasons title defence then Sir Alex should look at acquiring any one of these exceptionally talented players. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but all of them have that aggression and tough tackling mentality that has been missing from United’s recent sides.