There is a certain oddity in Manchester United’s team lately.
One look at the starting lineup of late, and you can see only 3 players from the Sir Alex era in De Gea, Valencia and Jones. There exists another on the bench, probably the most experienced of the lot in Michael Carrick. The Englishman was handed the captain’s armband following Wayne Rooney’s departure to Everton but is yet to feature this season. Carrick has slipped down the pecking order since the arrival of Nemanja Matic and will be expected to feature in a few cup games this season. For someone who has been so influential for Manchester United, his experience will come handy whenever called upon.
Carrick is now entering the twilight of his playing career, and Mourinho has been on the hunt for potential replacements. Michael Carrick’s role in the current Man United team is that of a deep-lying playmaker. Though not as mobile as how he used to be, his range of passing and positioning is still top notch and profits the team massively. His ability to play as a 3rd CB at times is an added advantage, as it provides security to the backline and also gives the midfielders the freedom to express themselves higher up the pitch. While Nemanja Matic has adopted that role at Manchester United, the Serbian is not as adept as Carrick in playing the role executed so perfectly by the Englishman.
Strength in depth is vital for any team that aims at success, and given Carrick’s dwindling contributions, the time is right to single out potential replacements for his coveted position in midfield.
Jose has listed two midfielders, whom he feels will complement Carrick’s role. Radja Nainggolan of AS Roma, and Saul of Atletico Madrid.
Nainggolan has been an integral part of AS Roma’s midfield, ever since his move to Rome from Cagliari. His completeness on the ball is a quality that closely represents Mourinho’s fondness the midfielder. His hard-working and versatile nature makes him an asset. He recently signed a new contract extension at AS Roma, meaning Mourinho will have to shell out an amount in excess of £50 million for his services.
Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid too has been shortlisted by Mourinho. Saul’s rise from the youth team to a main member of the first team has been meteoric. He can be played almost anywhere in midfield, even the wings for that matter, such is the extent of his qualities. However, his ability to pick a pass is what stands out. He can dribble with the ball too, proving to be an asset with the ball at his feet.
He too very recently signed a contract extension with the Rojablancos and will be costlier, considering his tender age of 22. Mourinho will have to shell an amount similar to what he paid for the services of Paul Pogba for the Spaniard.