4 Replacements For Michael Carrick Who Manchester United Can Target
Michael Carrick recently renewed his contract at Manchester United which means he’ll continue playing for the Red Devils until he’s 37. He is likely to retire at Old Trafford after a fantastic career where he won everything possible. Having got the no. 16 jersey post Roy Keane’s departure, Carrick made the number his own alongside Paul Scholes, as United reached 3 Champions League finals in 4 years, apart from 5 league titles and an FA Cup. Needless to say, his eventual departure will leave a gaping hole in the midfield and it’s a key area for manager Jose Mourinho to look at. Here are 4 realistic replacements for Carrick who United should look at, to solidify the midfield.
The Brazil-born Italian is a superb player and has been key to Napoli’s rise in Italy and their entry into the UEFA Champions League. He’s a dominant force in midfield, is an excellent passer and is equally good with both feet. He’s completed the most passes for any player in the top 5 leagues and is the only player to average 100+ passes every game (100.2) – the type of presence United fans would love to see in their midfield. His ability to pick out his teammates with accurate, long passes has stood out. He’s also got a great defensive ability and is adept at operating as both, a box-to-box midfielder and a proper defensive midfielder to shield the back 4. Still just 25, he would be an amazing signing and an able replacement for the Englishman.
This could be a bit far-fetched, but it could happen chiefly because Wanyama and Dembele have formed a formidable partnership at the heart of the Spurs’ midfield and Alderweireld and Vertonghen have done the same at the heart of the defence. Both these positions suit Eric Dier. Hence, Mourinho should try his best to lure the young, versatile Dier to The Theatre of Dreams.
During Dembele’s suspension and Alderweireld’s long injury duration, Pochettino played a 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 variation which gave Spurs a lot of tactical fluidity and the focus of it was Eric Dier. His ability to function as a centre-back and as a holding midfielder helped Spurs to seamlessly change their shape as the situation demanded. It is this versatility, and his defensive abilities along with his decent passing that should make him a superb signing, as not only would United have someone to shield the defence, but also allow Paul Pogba to play without the burden of defending.
The Dutchman arrived in 2014 under manager Louis van Gaal on the back of an excellent World Cup campaign, where he was deployed as a left wing-back despite his best position being the ‘holding midfield’, which is where he started his career at United. He put in a string of brilliant performances at the base of a midfield diamond before being shuffled around in the backline as a leftback, left wing-back, left sided centre-back and even as a right sided centre-back on an occasion.
The Dutch international is definitely versatile, but his best position is still as a holding midfielder. He has superb vision, and like Carrick, has an exquisite passing range and a great football IQ to read and intercept plays. However, his physicality is against him as he gets overrun at times against physically imposing players. But Mourinho must try playing Blind in the Carrick role in the pre-season and if he’s convincing enough, United might not even need to dip in the transfer market.
The 22-year-old Frenchman was an absolute monster for Monaco as the Principality club won the league title for the first time in several years and reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. At the heart of their sensational season was the former Rennes man. Mourinho has always had a dynamic, defence-first style anchor in his midfields – Costinha at Porto, Makelele and Matic in his 2 spells at Chelsea, Diarra at Madrid and Cambiasso in the famous treble-winning team of Inter Milan. Bakayoko fits the bill as he is a full package for a central midfield role, with his physicality, defensive instincts, and accurate forward passing ability.
Tactically disciplined, he is great at breaking up plays and starting them from deep. His passing accuracy of 87.6% is slightly lesser than Carrick’s 90.1%, but the French powerhouse averages more key passes (0.4) per game than the English veteran (0.3). Bakayoko’s 2.5 tackles per game easily usurp Carrick’s 1.2 while they make almost same number of interceptions every game, 2.2 and 2.3 respectively, further showing Bakayoko’s intelligence when defending. Bakayoko also provides a good aerial threat with his huge frame which is a bonus for Mourinho as that should reduce his dependency on Fellaini. Already a French international, Bakayoko would be a great signing for United.