Michael Carrick has quietly gone about the business of winning trophies since being brought to Manchester United by Alex Ferguson over a decade ago. Nothing phases the Geordie midfielder, not even taking Roy Keane’s shirt number.
His metronomic passing, game intelligence and ability to screen his back four effectively have been a cornerstone of United since he arrived at the club. At 35, however, Carrick is running out of time, a decision on his future will be made in the coming weeks. If he stays on for another year he will be used sparingly.
Either way, Jose Mourinho will need to replace him eventually.
So who are the possible replacements for Carrick? We’ve picked out five names and ranked them on suitability and availability.
Herrera is pretty much the only option within Mourinho’s squad.
The Spaniard has operated in this position a number of times recently playing extremely well. From the holding position, Herrera sets the tone for United and gets the ball moving forward quickly, he can also pick a pass. However as was evidenced against Saint Etienne last night he likes to press opponents and win the ball as high up the pitch as possible sometimes leaving his back four wide open. With a couple of slight adjustments to his game Herrera can fill this role well.
Casemiro – Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s Brazilian midfielder has blossomed into the archetypal defensive midfielder under Zinedine Zidane. Surrounded by the glitz and glamour of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gateth Bale, Casemiro keeps things simple, winning the ball and giving it to his teammates. Strong in the tackle, athletic and not afraid to carry the ball if it’s on.
Casemiro is the first name of Zidane’s team sheet, there’s a feeling in Madrid that if Zidane were to leave another manager with less clout could be pressured into dropping the Brazilian for another Galactico by club president Florentino Perez.
Availability: 1 (at present)
Blaise Matuidi – PSG
Matuidi has been a rock for both PSG and the French national side. He’s got a phenomenal engine, he’s extremely tough in the tackle and he gets on with the ‘ugly’ side of the game so the flair players can light it up. His role at PSG is as more of a box to box player given Marco Verratti’s brilliance as a deep lying play maker. At 29, Matuidi wouldn’t offer any return on what would need to be a massive investment from United but Mourinho has never let something like that stop him in the past.
Suitability: 4 Availability: 2
Idrissa Gueye – Everton
Idrissa Gueye has been a revelation for Everton since joining from Aston Villa upon their relegation to the Championship but Ronald Koeman’s side are overloaded when it comes to all-action midfielders. Having just signed Morgan Schneiderlin for a hefty fee, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy benched and young Tom Davies emerging as a real prospect Koeman is spoiled for choice.
At 27, Gueye is theoretically at his peak. Given Everton’s wealth in the middle of the park and taking into consideration their financial stature in comparison to United, a big offer in the summer could tempt the Toffees.
Suitability: 5 Availability: 4
Adrien Rabiot – PSG
Rabiot may be a bit of a wildcard but given his performance during PSG’s dismantling of Barcelona this week he looks one of the games best midfield prospects. Tall, strong and athletic Rabiot is aggressive in the tackle but also has excellent technique. He uses the ball intelligently and can also run with it. At the moment Rabiot isn’t quite a fixture in the PSG starting line-up but he looks like he could develop into the quintessential Mourinho holding midfielder very much in the Nemanja Matic mold. At just 21 Rabiot represents an fantastic investment even if United had to splash out a little.
Suitability: 4 Availability: 4