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Five playmakers Manchester United should target as Paul Scholes’ replacement

Paul Scholes took the option to retire at the end of last season, but Manchester United missed the playmaker’s creativity and guile so much that the 37-year-old came out of retirement to aid the Red Devils in their title charge.

Sir Alex Ferguson chased Wesley Sneijder as a potential replacement last summer, but with the Dutchman out of form and sure to be an expensive option, here are five alternatives that the Scottish manager has witnessed first hand, and who will be in his thoughts once the transfer window reopens.

Eden Hazard

By now, the talent and ability of the Belgium international is evident for all to see, and Hazard is one of the hottest prospects in European football. The 21-year-old’s attacking abilities helped Lille to the Ligue 1 Championship last term, and he has matured with the chance to play Champions League football this campaign.

With Hazard already admitting that he will leave the Stade Lille-Metropole this summer, suitors such as Manchester City, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Tottenham are all in the hunt for the starlet, but Sir Alex has also made it across the channel to watch him in action.

 

Iker Muniain

Given Athletic Bilbao’s excellent performances over two legs to dump United out of the Europa League, the English champions are more than aware of this Spanish prodigy’s talent.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men have evolved into an excellent side this season, with the 19-year-old schemer catching the eye in the process. With the ability to be the future of Spain’s creative midfield once the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta retire, the bigger boys of European football are sure to be circling San Mames in the near future.

Christian Eriksen

A product of the fabled Ajax youth academy, Eriksen has technical ability and poise in possession in spades. The 20-year-old has won the Eredivisie, experienced Champions League football and also faced United this term in the Europa League.

As one of Denmark’s shining lights, Eriksen will be given a chance to star at Euro 2012 this summer, which may make it difficult for the Amsterdam Arena outfit to hold onto their superstar.

Nicolas Gaitan

Benfica’s exciting attacking midfielder has been linked with a move to Old Trafford since he proved a thorn in the English team’s side in the Champions League earlier this term.

The Argentine has skill and pace in bundles, but whether he has the passing range and guile of some of the other candidates remains to be seen. Sir Alex may still try to sign the South American, but as more of a winger or second striker.

 

Luka Modric

The Tottenham talisman is the life and soul of a much-applauded Spurs side; the Croatian is also the White Hart Lane club’s most prized possession. Another excellent season under his belt, Modric will more than likely be the subject of attention this summer.

Spurs fought off advances from Chelsea a year ago, rejecting a £40 million offer, but the eastern European playmaker’s future depends on where Tottenham finish in the Premier League this term. The most expensive of the five options but arguably the most gifted, Sir Alex budget will play a part in any potential move for Modric.

Honourable mentions must also go to Adam Mayer of AZ and Younes Belhanda of Montpellier. The duo have been pivotal in their team’s current campaigns, with the underdog sides both fighting for their respective titles. The pair may be a bit inexperienced to step straight into the United first team, but have the potential to make a move to the Premier League this summer.

Published – Bleacher Report

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Five strikers the Premier League’s best should be targeting

With the end of the season approaching, the summer transfer market will be back in full swing from June, and the Premier League’s leading sides will look to bolster their squads to challenge again in 2012-13. There is a case for all top six English clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool – to add a new striker to their ranks, with the following five hitmen in-form and within the English sides’ reach.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Club – Schalke
Valuation – 15 million +
Would suit – Tottenham

Huntelaar is a product of the famed Ajax youth academy, but after ill-fated stints at AC Milan and Real Madrid, has come into his own at Schalke. The 28-year-old has scored 22 goals in the Bundesliga this term, challenging for the German top flight and Europa League Golden Boots, and is clearly confident and clinical.

On the international stage, KJH topped the Euro 2012 qualification goalscoring charts with 12 strikes, and is sure to participate for the Netherlands this summer if he stays fit. With the marksman’s contract in Gelsenkirchen expiring in the summer of 2013, the Veltins-Arena outfit may be tempted to cash-in on their star attacker.

Olivier Giroud

Club – Montpellier
Valuation – 15 million +
Would suit – Manchester United

The 25-year-old French forward has come into his own after taking a while to establish himself in his homeland, and has become a difficult opponent for opponents across Ligue 1. Giroud is good with the ball at his feet, powerful in the air and has an eye for goal.

Giroud’s continued goalscoring has powered Montpellier from a mid-table side to title challengers in a year, and seen him break into the senior France squad. Likely to be given his opportunity to really shine at Euro 2012, the suitors may well be queuing up for his services come June.

Roberto Soldado

Club – Valencia
Valuation – 20 million +
Would suit – Chelsea

Since leaving Real Madrid in 2008, Roberto Soldado has been one of the most consistent and clinical strikers in Spain, and this term has been no exception. The intelligent forward has led Los Che’s attack after the summer sale of Juan Mata, and with 16 La Liga goals to his name is in great form.

Soldado’s club efforts have been recognised on the international stage, and despite competition from Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente and the returning David Villa, should lead the line for the World Cup holders in Poland and Ukraine.

Leandro Damiao

Club – Internacional
Valuation – 15 million +
Would Suit – Arsenal

Along with Santos’ Neymar, Leandro Damiao of Internacional is in high-demand in Europe after excellent and exciting performances in Brazil. The sprightly 22-year-old has scored almost a goal per game for the Port Alegre outfit over two years, and has been the subject of transfer speculation over the last 12 months.

Damiao’s constant threat at club level has been rewarded with international recognition, with five caps to his name for the Selecao currently. With the player recently announcing that he is ready to go to Europe, there is sure to be a scramble for his signature this summer.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Club – Sporting Lisbon
Valuation – 12 million +
Would suit – Liverpool

Another Dutch striker trying to live up to so many legends from the nation before him, Van Wolfswinkel has slowly but surely become a well-known and highly-rated forward across Europe. The 23-year-old has continued where he left of at Utrecht with new club Sporting Lisbon after moving to Portugal last summer, and has seen his stock rise.

A goal against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium for Sa Pinto’s men will have done nothing to harm his already burdening reputation, whilst the versatile attacker has also broke into the Netherlands senior squad. With United’s links to Sporting Sir Alex Ferguson will be keeping a close eye on Van Wolfswinkel, but others will be sure to rival the Red Devils for the star-in-the-making’s signature.

Published – Bleacher Report

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