Eight potential midfield targets to solve Man Utd's problems
There are still a couple weeks left in the summer transfer window and if David Moyes has any plans on bringing in new talent, the time to act is now.
Manchester United's biggest need is in the center of the pitch as none of the Red Devils' current crop of midfielders are the right fit alongside Michael Carrick. With the league's best attack and a stout defense, the midfield area is the only place in need of some real shoring up as Ryan Giggs is too old, Anderson has never panned out, Phil Jones is better as a centre-back, Tom Cleverley just isn't that good of a holding midfielder and Darren Fletcher is too big of an injury risk.
Below, you'll find eight players, some of whom the Premier League champions have been linked with and others they have not, who would make United's biggest weakness a strength.
Lars Bender, Bayer Leverkusen
The lesser-known Bender twin is a German international who played a huge role in guiding Leverkusen to a third place finish last season. The 24-year-old scored three goals and provided six assists last season on the offensive side of the ball, and completed 4.1 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game on the defensive end, via Whoscored.
He's unafraid of putting in a crunching tackle and has a tremendous understanding of the game. He isn't the strongest or quickest player, but is a composed presence who can offer some midfield steel alongside Carrick. He has a penchant for making surging runs and supporting the attack and that eye for goal has paid dividends on the international stage, where he has scored four goals in 15 appearances.
Potential transfer fee: €20 million, but could spark a bidding war
Fernando, FC Porto
The 26-year-old former Brazil youth international has been at Porto since 2007 and has been a defensive cog in midfield throughout his tenure with the Portuguese giants.
Fernando offers very little offensively, totaling just five goals and six assists in 213 matches throughout his career, though what he lacks on offense, he more than makes up for on defense. A punishing tackler with a nose for the ball, Fernando is comfortable in possession and would provide defensive cover for Carrick. He's capable of single-handedly shielding the back-line should his midfield partner push up the field.
Potential transfer fee: €17.5 million; however, this is Porto so they'd probably hold out for closer to €30 million.
Selcuk Inan, Galatasaray
An unheralded player, Inan is a classy deep-lying playmaker who has been lighting up the Turkish top flight for years. The 28-year-old played a prominent role for Galatasaray in last year's UEFA Champions League when the Turkish outfit made a surprise run to the quarterfinals, before losing 5-3 on aggregate to Real Madrid.
The team is highlighted by Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder and Burak Yilmaz, but it's Inan that makes the side tick. A more offensive option than the previous two players, the Turkish international is a particularly gifted set-piece practitioner and would give United an alternative to Wayne Rooney when a situation called for a right-footed player.
Inan scored six goals and provided six assists last season, and has compiled totals of 40 goals and 70 assists in 290 career appearances. He's quite simply Turkey's version to Xabi Alonso.
Potential transfer fee: €14 million
Daniele De Rossi, Roma
The 30-year-old is a talisman for both club and country and has been an elite midfielder for years. Linked with a move to Chelsea, De Rossi seemed like he would follow in Francesco Totti's footsteps and play for Roma for his entire career. Then, Zdenek Zeman came along.
Zeman, who has since been sacked, was hypercritical of De Rossi and the fiery Italian international had to contend with a good deal of adversity from his own manager. It remains to be seen how De Rossi will factor into new manager Rudi Garcia's plans, but any team in world football would be lucky to have Roma's Capitan Futuro.
I still tend to doubt that he will ever leave the Stadio Olimpico as top Italian players are just so loyal to their clubs, but with interest from Jose Mourinho still rife, Moyes should take a crack at him as well.
Potential transfer fee: Listed at €20 million; would probably be available for closer to €15 million
Saphir Taider, Bologna
Bologna's 21-year-old Algerian international piqued David Moyes' interest and is being lined up as a transfer target, according to the Daily Star.
Taider is a classy midfielder who plays well beyond his years. A stout defender who's comfortable with the ball at his feet, Taider has been a regular fixture in the Bologna starting eleven over the past two seasons. Such experience will pay dividends throughout his career as the Serie A is perhaps the best league for a midfielder in Taider's mold to hone his craft.
He's a very well-rounded player, showing considerable creative and defensive aptitude and these abilities will only improve with age. Have a look at Taider here.
Potential transfer fee: Bologna value him at €18 million
Ever Banega, Valencia
Valencia seem to constantly find themselves in financial trouble, which has forced them to be amenable to selling their best players. Over the past few years, los Che have sold Roberto Soldado, Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, David Villa and David Silva.
With a history of selling their better players and still being able to finish in the top tier of La Liga, and achieve subsequent qualification to the European tournaments, Valencia could be open to selling Argentinian international Ever Banega, should a Godfather-esque offer come in.
Banega is a creative maestro capable of playing as an attacking midfielder or deep-lying playmaker, with a sublime passing acumen that facilitates his orchestration of the Valencia attack. The 25-year-old is no more than a decent defensive player, but he represents an elite attacking option.
Potential transfer fee: €18 million
Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton
Schneiderlin had an exceptional season last year, displaying an amazingly well-rounded game that has garnered him praise as one of the league's best central midfielders. He led the Premier League in interceptions and tackles and he's solid in the air, winning almost 60 percent of his aerial battles.
Southampton brought in Victor Wanyama this summer and the plan for Mauricio Pochettino is likely to play Wanyama and Schneiderlin alongside one another as the "2" in a 4-2-3-1. Southampton also have James Ward-Prowse and Jack Cork, two highly touted players, capable of being deployed in such a role, making Schneiderlin somewhat more expendable.
Potential transfer fee: Transfermarkt places his value at €5.5 million, but he could easily go for triple that
Marouane Fellaini, Everton
His buy-out clause has recently expired, taking away some financial leverage that Moyes might have had had he engaged in negotiations earlier this summer. Nevertheless, Fellaini would represent a great signing as he has familiarity with Moyes' system and would inject some significant physicality into the holding midfield area.
Last season, the Scottish manager deployed Fellaini in a more advanced area to make better use of his aerial dominance, but at United, Fellaini would reprise his holding midfield role as Wayne Rooney or Shinji Kagawa will be preferred in the central attacking midfield position.
He's a midfield anomaly as a player of his size is traditionally a centre-forward or centre-back, but the Belgian international has found a way to utilize his stature to great effect in the center of the pitch. He's a major goal threat and represents the most likely signing on this list.
Potential transfer fee: €30 million
Transfer fees and statistics courtesy of Transfermarkt and Whoscored.