Five players Manchester United should sign this summer

There’s always plenty of chatter surrounding football transfers, but often this comprises a name and club being linked with no explanation as to how they would fit in to the team and if the signing continues the manager’s usual transfer market behaviour. With this in mind, the five players suggested below have been selected because they would suit the club and fit in to their usual recruitment methods.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United have prioritised signing young players with the raw materials they desire who they believe can be developed at the club. Importantly though, unlike Arsenal, these players aren’t usually bought to store away, they are brought in and expected to contribute. He very occasionally goes for a ready made high profile player like a Robin van Persie, Edwin van der Sar or Juan Veron, but the club mostly target younger players.

So, who should they look at this summer?

Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund

Mats Hummels

Scout Report Hummels is only 24 and has established himself as the top young central defender in Europe. Hummels is a strong, elegant defender. His top quality is his football intelligence, which manifests itself in his supreme interception rate and his quality pass selection. He is comfortable enough with the ball at his feet to step forward in to midfield and pick passes and has incredible field vision. He is solid in the air and a superb organiser.

Where does he fit? Hummels couldn’t have been better designed for United. From McGrath, through Pallister, Stam and latterly Ferdinand, Ferguson has always deployed a footballing defender in his back four to complement a more rugged partner. With Ferdinand reaching the end of his top-level career Hummels would be the best possible replacement.

How much? For all the attention on Marco Reus and Mario Gotze at Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp would say Hummels is his key player. They would miss him more than any other. With this in mind United would need to part with at least £20 million, if not £30 million to prise him away. But they’ve spent that before.

Toby Alderweireld – Ajax

Toby Alderweireld

Scout Report Alderweireld is the last remaining Belgian starlet not in England. A big, strong and intelligent defender, at only 24 he has become a leader at an Ajax side bubbling with creativity in attack. He is good on the ball and capable of picking passes from defence.

Where does he fit? Alderweireld would fit in to the footballing defender spot in Ferguson’s back line. He is right in the age window that Ferguson likes; old enough to have experience but young enough that being at United could take him to the next level. He is at a similar stage of his development to Nemanja Vidic when he arrived at the club, coming over from a lesser league ready to be turned in to the finished article.

How much? Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen both left Ajax for around £11m so Alderweireld would be in that sort of area. Any sale of Ajax’s other prized assets would affect this though.

Antonio Nocerino – AC Milan

Antonio Nocerino

Scout Report Nocerino is a driving and relentless central midfielder. The very definition of the ‘lung buster’, he seems to cover every blade of grass on the pitch. He is tidy on the ball but his main trait is his ability to get into the faces of opponents and hustle them in to mistakes. Fittingly he took Gennaro Gattuso’s number at Milan, and Gattuso is a player that Ferguson admired in his prime.

Where does he fit? United haven’t really had a pest in midfield since Roy Keane. They thought Owen Hargreaves was going to be, but his injury troubles robbed them of that. Nocerino would offer this dimension to the United midfield which doesn’t really have anyone like him. He would compliment the laconic passing of Michael Carrick and endeavour of Tom Cleverley nicely. He could be the ‘ready made’ player that Ferguson sometimes moves for.

How much? Probably not too much actually. Maybe £8-12m. Milan aren’t in the best financial shape but would still be reluctant to lose him.

Ilkay Gundogan – Borussia Dortmund

Ilkay Gundogan

Scout Report A classy, elegant and technically proficient deep-lying playmaker, Gundogan is only 22 and is already starting to nail down a role in the German national team even with Bastian Schweinsteiger for company. Gundogan sets the tempo for Dortmund when in possession and is comfortable passing over short and long range. He comes deep to fetch the ball from defence before setting attacks in motion but is also a danger around the edge of the box.

Where does he fit? Although he has had a good season, Michael Carrick could still stand to be upgraded long term. Ferguson has been wary of his team’s inability to monopolise possession and territory against the top European teams and adding Gundogan to his midfield would certainly assist that. He is young but is experienced in a top league and has been outstanding in the Champions League. He could be steadily rotated in to the midfield before being given the keys in a few years time.

How much? This would depend almost entirely on if Dortmund sell any of their other desirable youngsters. They may feel like Gundogan could be replaced easiest but he would still cost a lot to bring in. It would surely be north of £15m

Iker Muniain – Athletic Bilbao

Iker Muniain

Scout Report Muniain is only 20 but has been in the Athletic first team for nearly four years. The little attacker plays at a frenzied pace with his jet-heeled dribbling and trickery. He can play in any of the attacking positions other than centre forward and offers directness that scares defences. The only downfall is that he doesn’t score enough goals for such a talent.

Where does he fit? Muniain would offer something entirely different to United’s attack. The last raw young forward with explosive pace who didn’t score enough goals that they signed was a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. He has those raw materials that United look for that they know they can develop in to a world-class player. He tortured them in the Europa League last year too, which won’t have gone unnoticed.

How much? Athletic are a notoriously difficult team to buy from because they don’t give away their precious Basques cheaply. They would be looking in the £20m region for Muniain but if they can mould him as they did with Ronaldo that would be money very well spent.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham: Each club’s perfect summer signing

With 10 games still to go in this season’s Premier League, some may argue it is too early for us to be commenting on future arrivals.  But this is football – half of what is written is hypothesis.

The truth is, every manager already has their summer wishlist, so here is a look at the one player each of the current top four should be seriously considering if they want to improve next season.

Manchester United – Mats Hummels

For years, fans and pundits alike have been calling for Sir Alex Ferguson to buy a creative midfielder.  But creativity and link-up play don’t seem to be a problem anymore. Not with the emergence of Shinji Kagawa, whose first season has been stop-start but who, at just 23, has all the attributes to be a silent superstar; and not with Nick Powell and Wilfried Zaha waiting in the wings.

Instead United should be looking for a long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand. And in Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, they would be signing one of the best young defenders in Europe.

Mats Hummels

The 24-year-old has already made over 150 appearances for the reigning Bundesliga champions and is regularly linked with moves away from the club he is contracted to until 2017.

The fact is that when Ferdinand and latterly Nemanja Vidic leave Old Trafford, there are three ready-made replacements in Johnny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. And yet Hummels’ pace, strength and ability to read the game would seal a hole that has too often been gaping this season, and at its best has been temporarily boarded-up.

With Hummels forming a regular partnership with one of the above, that hole wouldn’t be big enough to get a ball through without a whole lot of effort. But it will take a big bid to get him.

Manchester City – James Rodriguez

The 20-year-old Columbian winger has been regularly linked with United, but it is City who are in most need of him. Currently at FC Porto, he would bring a new dimension to Roberto Mancini’s team, who too often this season have been lackadaisical and missing the energy and thrust of an out-and-out winger.

James Rodriguez

While unquestionably talented, the Blues’ forward line has lost some of its mojo since outscoring their city rivals last year, and for every intricate David Silva pass or surging run from Carlos Tevez, the addition of lightening pace would make them a terrifying prospect, not least because their defence has now been further fortified by the ever-improving Matija Nastasic.

A consistent goal-threat himself, Rodriguez also has an impressive assist-record and will be a defining capture for whoever ultimately signs him. As with so many players these days, there is talk of an over-inflated release clause (in this case more than £36 million). But as with so many over-inflated release causes, a bid £10 million shy of that could tempt the Portuguese club’s hand and pass the advantage back to City next season.

Tottenham Hotspur – Robert Lewandowksi

The Polish striker is the one player on this list certain to be pulling on a new shirt next season. With only a year left on his contract at Borussia Dortmund, there seems little chance of him signing a new one. And while his current club have produced their best poker face in declaring he will remain should an acceptable offer not arrive, that won’t happen. Reasonable bids will come, as top clubs both in England and abroad compete to sign a man who, quite simply, knows where the goal is.

Robert Lewandowski

With his only criteria likely to be regular football and another crack at the Champions League, a Daniel Levy bid is surely being readied. In fact the addition of Lewandowski could turn Tottenham into viable title challengers.

With new signings Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele excelling this season – and Gareth Bale coming of age – the one thing Spurs fans bemoan is the lack of a consistent goal threat. And while Leandro Damiao will again be linked this summer, Levy should put all his efforts into signing a player who will turn an impressive squad into true contenders, both in England and in Europe.

Chelsea – Romelu Lukaku

When Chelsea paid close to £20 million for the Belgian forward in the summer of 2011, he called the Blues his dream club. But since then he has hardly kicked a ball for them. Instead it is West Bromwich Albion reaping the benefits of a loan deal Lukaku has talked about extending. Quite simply, Chelsea can’t let that happen.

When your best striker is excelling for another club something is wrong. And while he may only be 19, he has shown in a series of outstanding displays for the Baggies that he is ready to be playing first-team football back in London.

Romelu Lukaku

With arguably the most creative midfield in the Premier League, Chelsea’s one problem is their lack of forward options. Fernando Torres was last seen circa 2010, and he is not coming back; while Demba Ba is still dining out on his outstanding debut season for Newcastle.

Whoever is in charge at Stamford Bridge next season, he will be looking for a player who is on the same creative wavelength as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, a player who scores, creates and can put finishing touches to the patterns his midfield will only get better at creating.

Lukaku is already better than the two men Chelsea currently rely on for goals. If they haven’t yet realised that, they may lose him altogether.

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Borussia Dortmund: The game no one expected

When the draw for the group stage of the Champions League was first made, few would have imagined this being a second-round match.  But both clubs have reached the knock-out stage on merit and are more than capable of serving up a classic.

Drawn in what many called “the group of death”, Borussia Dortmund showed the rest of Europe what Bundesliga fans had grown accustomed to: topping the group unbeaten, taking four points off Real Madrid and consigning Manchester City to an early exit.

Jürgen Klopp’s team are fast becoming the talk of Europe, in no small part due to the number of their players regularly linked elsewhere.  But for now their squad remains intact and has every chance of making a real impact in this year’s competition.

Marco Reus

Currently 15 points behind Bayern Munich, Klopp will see Europe as more than an escape hatch from domestic inconsistency; he will see it as a chance to replicate the club’s 1997 Champions League success.  In what is likely to be Robert Lewandowski’s last season for the club, the Polish striker can punish a team with the second worst defensive record in the group stage.

But then you would also have said that of Chelsea, who lost 2-1 in the Ukraine and only won at Stamford Bridge after Victor Moses’ 94th-minute rescue act.

Shakhtar have been making steady progress in Europe since their 2009 Europa League success, and much like Dortmund, came through a tough group with aplomb.

Currently on a break from domestic competition, the Ukrainian champions and league leaders have been keeping match fit with a series of friendlies.  Whether that will be enough to keep out the likes of Lewandowski and Mario Götze, and find a way past the imposing defensive partnership of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotić, is another matter.

But having won all but one of their 18 league games so far, and having played their part in ousting reigning European champions Chelsea, Mircea Lucescu’s team will be confident of going further. With the creativity and goal scoring threat of Luiz Adriano, Alex Teixeira and Fernandinho, the dark horses could beat the other dark horses at their own game.

Ribery, Huntelaar and other Bundesliga stars set to shine at Euro 2012

Euro 2012 is only a couple of weeks away now, with most nations compiling their initial squads for the tournament and starting to prepare for the competition start on June 6th. Some of the leading players from La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A will be represented, however Euro 2012 betting tips could be impacted by the involvement of a host of players from the Bundesliga. Here are the top five Bundesliga stars ready to impress in Ukraine and Poland.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

The former AC Milan and Real Madrid forward has had an excellent season this term, impressing for both club and country. The Netherlands international topped the Bundesliga scoring charts this campaign with 29 goals for Schalke, and also netted 12 times for Bert van Marwijk men in European Championships qualifying. Despite Robin van Persie being earmarked as the Oranje main attacking threat and the skill of Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, Huntelaar has the ability to be a star this summer.

Franck Ribery

The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder continues to show his class and calibre for the Bavarian giants, and after scoring for Jupp Heynckes men against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. Ribery will be tasked with providing Karim Benzema will goalscoring opportunities and will be charged with offering Les Bleus precision and creativity. Skill, guile and accuracy, Ribery will be one of the main talents at the tournament.

Mats Hummels

The majority of the Germany side ply their squad in the Bundesliga, with Joachim Low’s men one of the favourites for the tournament. Although the German side have some excellent attacking players, Borussia Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels could well play a key role for the team. The centre half has grown in stature over the last 24 months to help the Signal Iduna Park club to consecutive Bundesliga titles. The 23-year-old is a crucial member of the national set-up, and has the ability to follow in the illustrious footsteps of legendary defenders Matthaus, Beckenbauer and Sammer.

Robert Lewandowski

The Borussia Dortmund marksman has had quite the season, making the centre forward position in the champions’ line-up his own by ousting Lucas Barrios, and providing 22 goals in the team’s title charge. The hopes of co-hosts Poland will rest of Lewandowski shoulders, and if the eastern European nation are to make any strides in the tournament the 23-year-old will need to replicate his club form on the national scene. Lewandowski is currently being linked with a move to Manchester United, and a strong Euro 2012 could see him leave the Bundesliga for a leading European club.

Ivica Olic

Croatia have been drawn in a tough Group C alongside holders Spain, Italy and Republic of Ireland, and will need to be at their best to progress through the pool. Although Premier League stars Luka Modric and Nikica Jelavic will be expected to deliver, veteran Bayern Munich attacker Ivica Olic could well play a key role for Slaven Bilic men. The 32-year-old forward has largely played second fiddle to Mario Gomez at the Allianz Arena this term, but showed his ability when given an opportunity against Marseille in the Champions League quarter-finals, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory.

Published – Bundesliga Fanatic

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: The young and the new of German football meet

With three points separating the top two teams in the Bundesliga, leaders and champions Borussia Dortmund host perennial powerhouses Bayern Munich in a massive game at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday. A win for the hosts will all but seal back-to-back titles, whilst an away victory will give the biggest club in German football the impetus to go on to win their title back.

Jurgen Klopp has transformed an underperforming and mediocre Dortmund setup into a well-tuned and talented squad of promising stars since taking over at the club in 2008. The team’s Bundesliga crown last season was the first since 2002, and the 44-year-old trainer has continued where he left off last term in 2011/12. Many feared for Die Borussen after the forced sale of key midfielder Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid and a slow start to the season, whilst Champions League elimination in the group stages proved that the young pretenders have a way to go yet to replicate the historic achievements of the European champions team of 1997.

Despite this, a run of ten wins from 13 league games propelled the holders back to the top of the standings, and the crown is now Dortmund’s to lose. With home advantage and their opponents still with European distractions, Klopp’s young superstars will look to strike a decisive blow on Wednesday. The likes of Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze (although he will not play through injury) and Robert Lewandowski have shone over a fantastic 24-month period for the club.

Off the pitch, Dortmund recently claimed another victory over their traditionally superior rivals. The signing of Borussia Monchengladbach and Germany attacking midfielder Marco Reus, wanted by the Bavarians also, shows that Klopp’s men are serious in their rejuvenation and could be ready for a period of dominance in the country.

Bayern, by their own admittance, were poor last season but a summer of rebuilding, the arrival of Jupp Heynckes and a better start to the campaign has saw Die Roten back to their ominous best at times this campaign. Despite spending spells on top of the pile and thrashing sides on occasion, inconsistency has crept in at times domestically, which Dortmund have taken advantage of.

With Real Madrid lying in wait in what should be a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final, the Allianz Arena outfit have a potentially memorable end of season ahead of them. However, both Los Blancos and Dortmund will put Bayern under pressure, with the side’s defence still to really prove that it has what takes to challenge for honours. The attacking abilities of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez are not in question, however it is whether Bayern can shut out an attacking-minded Dortmund side that will be the difference in the game.

Dortmund won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Allianz Arena through a solitary Gotze strike, and despite Bayern’s history, players and prestige will go into this game as favourites. The home side could well be on the verge of a new era of success, with 90 minutes for the young Borussen stars to prove their worth and retain their title.

Can Borussia Dortmund Emulate the Champions League Winning Side of 1997?

Only one team were ever going to win this season’s Bundesliga, as Jurgen Klopp’s surprise package Borussia Dortmund have impressed from day one with their attacking and free-flowing style of football, reminiscent of the 1997 side that were crowned European Champions. With the league title all but in the bag and BVB set to compete in Europe’s top club compeition next season for the first time since 2002, can the German side turn the clock back 15 years and emulate Ottmar Hitzfeld’s star-studded side?
Die Borussen’s transformation has been quite amazing under Klopp, as the ex-Mainz coach has led the club from 6th and 5th placed finishes in 2008-09 and 2009-10 to Germany’s top team this campaign. Signal Iduna Park has witnessed some exciting and enthralling displays from a team largely under 25 and without the big name international players like 97’s Sammer, Moller, Riedle and co that beat Juventus 3-1 in the final all those years ago.
However their illustrious forefathers may be outdone by Dortmund’s current crop, and Klopp’s first objective in the search for success is to keep his star players at the club, many of which have been linked with moves to some of Europe’s elite. The side have quality across the park, with match winners and savers combined in a 4-5-1 formation that can change to 4-3-3 when the side attack.
Centre back pairing Mats Hummels and Serbian Neven Subotic, both 22 years old, have looked like Sammer and Kohler reincarnated and been the reason the club have only conceded 18 goals in this year’s Bundesliga, 16 less than the second stingiest defensive in the league. Holding midfielder Sven Bender came into the side after injury to Sebastien Kehl, and hasn’t looked back, playing 28 of the club’s 30 games this season and forcing his way into the Joachim Loew’s German national set-up.
Bender’s closing of opposition and work rate have been a perfect foil for Dortmund other central midfielder and arguably brightest star, Nuri Sahin. The German born Turkey international has been in mercurial form this season, scoring six goals from midfield and showing guile and creativity to create nine more. Sahin represents new Dortmund and the club must keep him amidst interest from Real Madrid and Inter if they are to progress as a team.
Added to this are 18 year old attacking midfielder Mario Goetze, who has been one of the season’s revelations with his ball control and skill reportedly catching the eye of Manchester United and Barcelona. Sole attacker Lucas Barrios is the club’s top scorer, with the Argentine striker hitting the back of the net 18 times this season.
With so much quality and youthful exuberance Dortmund will be a tough test for the teams they face in next year’s Champions League, and Klopp will look to strengthen further in the summer. Despite this however, the class of 2011 do not have the experience of the 97 team, and will face a much tougher European field from strong English and Spanish clubs. Schalke have shown this season that progression to the latter stages of the tournament is possible, but the youngsters donning the black and yellow in today’s Dortmund team must stick together and grow as a unit if they are to equal the success of the club’s past masters.

Published –

%d bloggers like this: