Following Manchester United’s decision to award Marouane Fellaini with a contract extension, some fans will be fearing for the future of veteran Michael Carrick.
The Englishman has been a key member of United’s squad over the years, and been particularly important this season. However, there has been little movement on a new contract for Carrick.
Due to turn 36 this year, Jose Mourinho will be hoping to weigh up long-term replacements for the holding midfielder whether or not he is with the club next season.
Morgan Schneiderlin was tipped as a genuine replacement but failed to live up to expectations and was sold to Everton last week. Bastian Schweinsteiger was also seen as a man who could carry on the baton from Carrick, but, like Schneiderlin, things have not gone to plan.
Although the Englishman’s season may end with an extension after all, these players could fill the void that will eventually be left by the composed stalwart.
A year ago, some may have thought Matic was a possibility for United when rumours of Jose Mourinho’s appointment started floating around. The Serb had struggled like most of the Chelsea team last season having become one of the best holding midfielders in Europe. However, he has enjoyed a resurgence of form under Antonio Conte following his uncharacteristic slump.
A player that Knows Mourinho, Matic has a similar if not more robust style than Carrick but his ability to spread the play and add calmness is similar to the Englishman. However with Chelsea riding high in the league, Matic could see United as a step down and the Blues may be reluctant to sell to their rivals.
The Belgian midfielder has been a revelation in Serie A and is one of Roma’s star players. A box-to-box midfielder, Nainggolan is capable of playing in the holding role where he can dictate the play as well as put in some crunching tackles.
He has the ability to score from long range and could compliment Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba very well. With a similar style that is close to a mix of Roy Keane and Frank Lampard, the 28-year-old could become a fan-favourite at Old Trafford.
He may be more of a dark horse but former United academy player Drinkwater was one of Leicester’s key players during their Premier League triumph last season. An old fashioned central midfielder, Drinkwater’s range of passing could fill the void left by Carrick should he depart Old Trafford.
A physical player, the 26-year-old may fancy a return to his boyhood club where he failed to make an appearance under Sir Alex Ferguson. However, he is sometimes guilty of giving away possession cheaply, which could make him a less likely option on this list.
A player that seems to be linked with United during most transfer windows, Frenchman Matuidi is capable of playing in a holding or more advanced midfield role.
His usual slot on the left hand side of a midfield three for PSG makes his role slightly different to Carrick but he does have the defensive skills needed to sit in-front of the back four. A player that always tries to play on the front foot, Matuidi will be used to playing with Paul Pogba at international level.
Possibly the closest on this list style and physique-wise to Carrick. Imposing Spurs fan-favourite Dier started off as a centre-half or fullback with Sporting Lisbon before Mauricio Pochettino converted him to a holding midfielder.
Physical and deadly from free-kicks, Dier has developed nicely into the type of composed player Carrick was at White Hart Lane when he caught the eye of Ferguson over a decade ago.
Probably the preferred option of most United fans and staff alike. The Germany international is a veteran of the game despite only being 27. Already a World Cup and Champions League winner, he has been linked with United in the past and would serve as a world-class replacement for Carrick when he leaves Old Trafford.
Composed and dominant on the pitch, it could be very difficult to temp Kroos from Madrid, where he has enjoyed so much success in two and a half seasons.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena