It came as little surprise to anyone when Paul Scholes joined fellow Manchester United veterans Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar by announcing his retirement this year.The midfielder enjoyed 17 years in the United first-team and the search to find a replacement for him at Old Trafford is going to be a key area for the club in the transfer market this summer.
According to CNN’S Piers Morgan, ‘’Paul Scholes was very annoying, woefully ill-disciplined, miserable-faced (even by Mancunian standards), off-field dullard who never learned to tackle, gave post-match interviews like a lobotomised warthog, and had offensive hair…’ and who was, and this hurts me to say, the single best midfield player Britain has ever produced.’ Zinedine Zidane said that Scholes was the best midfielder of his generation
Filling the 36-year-old’s-boots is a near enough impossible task for any midfielder, but Football24/7 looks at five stars who may be up to the difficult task.
If anyone needs reminding, Sneijder played a crucial role in dragging Holland to the World Cup final last year, displaying all the skills needed to star in a top team. Voted Goal.com’s 2009/10 player of the year, the Inter Milan attacking midfielder is a possible contender to fill the gap left by Paul Scholes at United. Wesley Sneijder was also voted UEFA midfielder of the year in 2010 after helping Inter win the UEFA Champions League last year.
The former Madrid man, who was a product of the Ajax Academy, previously played for Ajax Amsterdam with whom he won 6 trophies during which he was awarded the Johan Cruijff Award (best young player in the Netherlands) in 2004.The Champions League winner was sold to Madrid in 2007 for €27 million and won La Liga in his first season before being sold to Inter two years later for €15 million.
Cutting an inspirational figure on the field, he shone in the quarter-final against Brazil where he helped his unfavoured side come from a goal down by scoring twice in a 2-1 victory.He’s one of the best free-kick takers in the world, if not the best.
He will be Ferguson’s No 1 target, but Inter Milan can match United’s offer of being title contenders as well as Champions League ones and the 26-year old has made it clear that he is not looking to leave the San Siro.
Forget Gareth Bale or Rafael van der Vaart. To me, Modric has been the real star of the show at White Hart Lane this season, providing the main focal point of Tottenham’s attack.Signed by Dynamo Zagreb as a teenager in 2002, Modric won 3 consecutive league titles and the Croatian First League Player of the Year in 2007.Croatia’s coach Slaven Bilic reckoned the whole world would see why Tottenham dished out £16.5 million for Modric before the EURO 2008 tournament. He has been compared to Cruijff and actually resembles him in both stature and the way he plays, possessing agility, creativity and speed, as well as being a pin-point passer of the ball.
In 2010, former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins described Modric as one of the best midfielders in the EPL. ‘Not only is he a very hard worker, he has a good brain and he provided some calmness and composure to the midfield. His passing was neat and his contribution was outstanding. He was not only winning the ball, he was passing well. We thought that he was very influential. He did not just work hard, he made the other people play well around him.”–Gérard Houllier, UEFA Technical Team.
The attacking midfielder has been seen to adopt a defensive midfield role in addition to playmaking, tracking back to win the ball from the opposition and prepare for counter-attacks. Thus, making him one of the most versatile players in the Spurs squad.Croatia has probably found the perfect successor to midfield masters Aljosa Asanovic,Robert Prosinecki and Zvonimir Boban in Modric.
He has been in stunning form for Spurs since his switch from Zagreb in 2008.He has stunned Tottenham by issuing a come and get me plea to Manchester United after admitting he will greatly miss playing Champions League football next season. He has attracted a host of European suitors. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has stepped up his interest in the 25-year old following the Champions League final humiliation at the hands of Barcelona and he believes the midfielder is just the player the club needs to help build the next generation.But Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has repeatedly stated that Tottenham will not be selling any of their top stars this summer, but he could be persuaded to part company with Modric if United come with a suitable offer.
The 25-year-old’s eye for a pass is incredible and like Scholes, is capable of finding the net whether it’s inside or outside the box. A deal for the midfielder cannot be ruled out given the transfer history between the sides. Spurs have gathered a reputation of being Manchester United’s feeder club over the last few years, with star players such as Teddy Sherringham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov all being sold to the Red Devils – no matter how much the north London club resisted.
Jack Christian Rodwell
Does not play as advanced up the field as Scholes once did, but he is more masterful in the art of tackling. An Everton supporter as a child, Rodwell joined the club’s youth system at the age of seven, making his Under-18s debut at 14 and his debut for Everton’s reserve team at the age of 15. Rodwell then broke a record on his senior debut becoming the youngest player to represent Everton in Europe when he came on as a substitute against Dutch team AZ at the age of 16 years and 284 days.
The 20-year-old is still finding his feet in the game but the Everton midfielder is one of England’s brightest talents. Although Rodwell is primarily deployed as a defensive midfielder, he was regarded as having the potential to become a top centre back early in his professional career. During the second half of the 2009–10 season, Rodwell became regularly employed in more attacking midfield positions.
Having established himself as a first-team player at Goodison Park, Rodwell will be reluctant to move to Old Trafford if he is not given a starting role. Such is his value already; current boss David Moyes has already stuck a high price tag on him.
West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham have all been relegated from the Premier League, albeit in contrasting circumstances.
The point is that these teams have some good players and there may be opportunities there to snap them up on the cheap. One name springs to mind immediately for me and that is Scott Parker. The former Chelsea midfielder was named the PFA player of the year this season and deservedly so. This is no mean feat in struggling side and he was inspirational throughout. He is the type of player Fergie could use also in my view. He is combative, a good passer and has an intensity and a drive from midfield that perhaps United lack sometimes. He is also English, something which is becoming more prevalent in the modern game.
Clearly there are negatives. He is thirty for a start and wouldn’t exactly be one for the future. Also, he has never really produced outstanding form at a big club although he wasn’t exactly given every chance at Chelsea. He is surely on the move this summer and will be picked up relatively cheap. Although it is a squad game, there may be implications for people like Gibson so many fans would be against such a signing. Although they are different players.
Charlie Adam is another one who could be a possibility. Dundee-born Adam’s Blackpool were defeated at Old Trafford and just missed out on a place in next season’s Premier League. He’s been Blackpool’s talisman this season after being overlooked by Rangers very early in his career.
In week four of the 2010–11 Premier League season, Adam was named in the official Team of the Week, partnering Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas in central midfield. He was named again in week seven, alongside teammate Luke Varney.
On 22 January, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway confirmed that the club had received a bid of £4.5m from rival Premier League club Liverpool. Holloway described the bid as “disgraceful” and it was rejected. Blackpool then rejected a transfer request that Adam had made to the club.
On 2 February, Adam scored in a match against West Ham United directly from a corner kick, commonly referred to as an Olympic goal. He was one of seven nominees for the 2010–11 PFA Players’ Player of the Year. Adam won goal of the month for March 2011 on the BBC show Match of the Day.
The Scot has flaws, for sure. He is overweight for one thing. He is, however, a very talented player with unquestionable ability and a cultured left boot. There were strong rumours that Adam was about to join United on the final day of the January transfer window, among about ten other clubs. Again, he is no spring chicken at 25 and any signing would show a move away from a youth policy which has served United well. He is a good player but is he a United player?