Is Luka Modric the missing link for Manchester United?

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By Matthew Jones

WITH exciting signings like Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell in the bag, and attention in the Manchester United boardroom now turning to left back, there is still that stellar signing missing from the Old Trafford midfield. Many critics and fans believe it should be Tottenham’s Luka Modric, who lit up Euro 2012 in Croatia’s ultimately fruitless tournament. Bringing in the diminutive midfield magician would silence those saying United can no longer afford to compete with the heavyweights of Man City and Chelsea in the astronomical transfer fees and wage wars. I don’t think any United fan would turn their nose up at the signing of Modric but while his name is the one spoken of most when we talk about that as yet unsigned marquee player our midfield is crying out for, he is not the player I would go for.

He’s absolutely class, of that there is no doubt, he reads the game superbly, he finds pockets of space in the most unimaginable of places, he rarely wastes the ball and when he delivers, it’s usually to devastating effect.

Still, the type of midfielder we are in dire need of is not a twinkle-toed replica of Xavi or Iniesta. We need a lay-it-all-on-the line, combative, no nonsense, marauding, box-to-box, buccaneering midfielder with an insatiable desire to succeed.

True, in Kagawa, we already have a player with similar capabilities to Modric, but they are different players, and they could still fit into the same side. Kagawa is more of a goal threat and plays in the hole behind the striker. He doesn’t drop into his own half to collect the ball off the back four like Modric, he takes the ball from such a player and causes havoc in the final third. While both are comfortable out wide, Kagawa has been utilised out there with Japan to good effect. He plays there for the national side and although he does prefer to drift inwards, he can be devastating from anywhere in the final third; left, right or centrally. When Modric has been used out wide by Spurs, he’s been ineffective and has failed to influence games.

Anyway, I’m drifting. I meant to point out that Modric and Kagawa could play together. If, as the signing of Kagawa suggests, we will shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation next season, Modric could play in the 2 with either Scholes or Carrick, and Kagawa would play anywhere in the 3, but preferably centrally.

My real point is that if I were Sir Alex Ferguson, I’d be looking at finally bringing in a replacement for Roy Keane, or an upgrade on Darren Fletcher. I’m a big fan of the Scotsman, although ask my friends, this was not always the case. He’s really progressed into a fine player and has learned to stamp his authority on games in United’s midfield. In fact his absence from the United midfield last season was arguably as big a loss as Nemanja Vidic from the heart of our defence. Unlike Michael Carrick, who often got asked to boss the midfield when that is really not in his repertoire, Fletcher could have done that. He’s slight but he’s a pest, he’s got a great engine and he’s remarkably tough. He’s also become a real threat going forward and has become an accomplished and even reliable goalscorer from the middle of the park, again, more so than Carrick. He’s not a superstar though, perhaps that’s not fair, he’s not world class I mean. I don’t think it’s unfair to describe him in those terms. The issue we also have to look out for with the Scotland captain is that, unlike Vidic, there is a real possibility, even likelihood that he will never return due to his ulcerative colitis.

For the remainder of the summer, the left back scenario will be another issue to look at but, for now, in my opinion, we should be looking at this Fletcher/Keane void in the side and be looking to the likes of Danielle De Rossi or Javi Martinez if we’re looking at the top end of the market. With De Rossi having signed a five year contract at club side Roma at the beginning of the year, and the fact that it’s his hometown club and he’s just been named as Fracesco Totti’s replacement as captain, I yearn desperately but probably more wishfully for De Rossi to arrive. It’s a similar situation with Athletic Bilbao’s Martinez. Less will perhaps be known about him by United fans but he’s a marvellous player. Equally comfortable in his more natural position in midfield or at centre back, the 23-year-old is both elegant and commanding and he caught the eye in his side’s two-legged tie with United when the Spaniards totally outclassed United twice in the Europa League last season. I think we’d be more likely to get hold of Martinez but, if rumours are to be believed, he is Barcelona’s top transfer target this summer, which poses its own difficulties.

If, in all probability, we can’t get or don’t go for either of these players, then as with the club’s determination and custom to go for youth, I would suggest buying PSV Eindhoven’s tenacious middle man Kevin Strootman. I’ve only seen videos and footage of Strootman, but he looks a class act and possibly more of a throwback to the talismanic Keane than either Martinez or De Rossi. Again, acquiring someone like Strootman would have the tongues of the media and rival fans wagging that United are slipping financially under Glazernomics, and are being forced to invest in potential rather than proven talent. It’s an argument not without merit but considering Strootman would cost in the region of £15m and was part of the Dutch squad at Euro 2012, we’d hardly be shopping in the bargain basement or taking a gamble.

Returning for a moment to a point I introduced at the beginning. Midfield has long be a problematic area for us. Most people have honed in on the need for an attacking player, an eventual replacement for Scholes, but with Kagawa and Powell, I think the club has taken its first actual steps in addressing that. Kagawa, although some will be cynical and say he’s unproven at the very top of European football and is the new Ji-Sung Park, brought in to boost shirt sales in Asia, they’d be saying that blindly and more in hope. I’ve read and researched a lot about him since the end of the season and there is no doubt that he’s a special player and will hopefully be a quality addition to our squad. Powell, of course, is very raw, but still an excellent prospect. He’s tall, athletic, powerful, has good ball control and, if you’ve seen his youtube highlights, can also strike a ball from distance, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing them both in action.

This is why I think it’s now time to turn attention to putting a warrior in our midfield, a leader, a fighter. If that void is addressed by the hierarchy this summer, then I really think United will be equipped to do battle on all fronts next season. Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.

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19 Responses to “Is Luka Modric the missing link for Manchester United?”

  1. Whats the point in wasting your time writing this when he is about to sign for Real Madrid. He has already said he wants to play in Spain, stay ahead!! Kagawa it is for u guys whilst we get Sahin. Cheers now.

  2. N17Yido, I suggest you read the article again. The author is suggesting he’d prefer a warrior type midfielder rather than Modric.

    • Then why is the article called ” Is Modric the missing link” ???./ Anyway as N17Yido suggests, looks like he is on his way to Spain.

    • I suggest you read his post again – the point is, it doesn’t matter what you think his merits are, or what you think United need, you won;t be signing him, so it is pointless having the discussion.

  3. He would be perfect for UTD!
    But Daniel Levy will not sell him to UTD or Chelsea, thats FACT!
    And where on earth would Utd get the £45 it would take anyway?
    UTD are a great club, but after the way they behaved with regards to Berbatov transfer it just wont happen.

  4. Bubble9, the author is posing a question. The article title includes a question mark.

  5. He is definitely the missing link… shame we wont sell him to u mugs eh… £25m plus Sahin and hes off to Madrid. Melts.

  6. SP, the article is not about signing Modric. Read the below paragraphs again – the author states he would prefer a Keane type player rather than a Modric type player.

    Paragraphs:

    “Still, the type of midfielder we are in dire need of is not a twinkle-toed replica of Xavi or Iniesta. We need a lay-it-all-on-the line, combative, no nonsense, marauding, box-to-box, buccaneering midfielder with an insatiable desire to succeed.”

    “My real point is that if I were Sir Alex Ferguson, I’d be looking at finally bringing in a replacement for Roy Keane, or an upgrade on Darren Fletcher. I’m a big fan of the Scotsman, although ask my friends, this was not always the case. He’s really progressed into a fine player and has learned to stamp his authority on games in United’s midfield. In fact his absence from the United midfield last season was arguably as big a loss as Nemanja Vidic from the heart of our defence. Unlike Michael Carrick, who often got asked to boss the midfield when that is really not in his repertoire, Fletcher could have done that. He’s slight but he’s a pest, he’s got a great engine and he’s remarkably tough. He’s also become a real threat going forward and has become an accomplished and even reliable goalscorer from the middle of the park, again, more so than Carrick. He’s not a superstar though, perhaps that’s not fair, he’s not world class I mean. I don’t think it’s unfair to describe him in those terms. The issue we also have to look out for with the Scotland captain is that, unlike Vidic, there is a real possibility, even likelihood that he will never return due to his ulcerative colitis.”

    “For the remainder of the summer, the left back scenario will be another issue to look at but, for now, in my opinion, we should be looking at this Fletcher/Keane void in the side and be looking to the likes of Danielle De Rossi or Javi Martinez if we’re looking at the top end of the market. With De Rossi having signed a five year contract at club side Roma at the beginning of the year, and the fact that it’s his hometown club and he’s just been named as Fracesco Totti’s replacement as captain, I yearn desperately but probably more wishfully for De Rossi to arrive. It’s a similar situation with Athletic Bilbao’s Martinez. Less will perhaps be known about him by United fans but he’s a marvellous player. Equally comfortable in his more natural position in midfield or at centre back, the 23-year-old is both elegant and commanding and he caught the eye in his side’s two-legged tie with United when the Spaniards totally outclassed United twice in the Europa League last season. I think we’d be more likely to get hold of Martinez but, if rumours are to be believed, he is Barcelona’s top transfer target this summer, which poses its own difficulties.”

    • I understand what the article is about.
      It would have been less contentious if he had initiated a debate as to whether United need a tigerish midfielder or a play-maker – and then, in one sentnce, said “like Modric of Tottenham” (and then, maybe, an inclusion that this was very unlikely to happen).
      The point is, as N17 said, there is very little chance of United signing Modric, so it is, basically, a moot point even including a discussion of signing him in the article, never mind hanging the whole article on his name.
      Daniel Levy is less likely to sell Modric to United this Summer, than he was to sell him to Chelsea last. End of…it is not that we haven’t read the article (Rich), is is that we understand the minute chance of United understanding himand therefore fail to see the central pivot Modric’s name have in a, basically, generic discussion.

  7. Yes it’s clear those commenting about ‘Modric going to Spain’ have not actualy read the article, so why bother commenting? sigh.

    I agree that an enforcer is needed and has been for years if we’re being honest. Personally I think trying to accomodate Carrick has always left us short of a place for either a class AM or DM. He’s ok but he doesn’t fit into either role well enough. Sure he’s a decent reader and a decent passer but he either needs to be more combative or more threatening. I’d prefer to see him replaced – neither he nor Berbabtov were ever going to be a perfect fit for Utd and these are 2 signings I have always never quite got (along with quite a few others too :)). Maybe it’s time to start all over again with the central midfield, starting with Shinji. Get rid of Carrick & Anderson. Put Giggs and Scholes out to graze. I’d love Fletcher to make it back but it’s looking less likely the longer it goes on.
    So stick Wellbeck up front with Rooney and Kagawa in a 2 behind him, Rooney dropping deeper to become playmaker. 2 wingers from Valencia, Young, Nani – Leaves us needing a really good combative midfielder. Is this a role Jones could grow into? I don’t know. I’d love us to get someone with real potential in this area meantime. We would need another striker too, and defence needs some order to it. Smalling to take up a permanent CB role as Ferdi / Vidic partnership does not have long to run. Leaves us needing a proper RB and a new option for LB. Would very much like to get Alba.

  8. So why puit that headline, to miss lead to visit your shite site

  9. The reason behind the choice of title article is fairly obvious. United have been linked with a move for Modric, so the author is posing the question whether a Modric type player is needed.

    This isn’t my site by the way, I’m a moderator on the forum.

  10. You fellows don’t get it do you?

    The OT star is slowly settling as Ferguson ages and will be gone with him. As for his successor? It wont be Jose and you will have to become used to NOT competing with City.

    Levy would rather lose his left arm than sell Modric to you lot although IMHO as you have Kagawa he will be superfluous to your needs.

  11. Why would Modric sign for a team that is not even the best in Manchester ?

  12. Would love to sign Luka but it looks like he is going to Real. Taking “Glazernomics” into consideration and utd’s pref for development I think SAF will carry on with a scholes/carrick/cleverly midfield combo in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The left back probably will be baines and seeing as he’s english he will be costly. Then the CM maybe next summers ‘marquee’ signing. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a CM arrive but I also want to see clev’s progress and tuncliff get a few chances to impress.

  13. Darren Fletcher has either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease and I can assure you that either will take off your”top end” most assuredly as will the treatment. He will be very lucky to play at his true ability and I feel sorry for the poor b*stard so I would not count too much on him although to continue to play shows much courage.

  14. Er no, he’s going to Real Madrid. If it were to a Premier League club it would be £40 million and United won’t pay that sort of money so £25 million plus a player is a far better option for us.

  15. Agree with the article. Forget about Modric. Sign Cheick Tiote !!!

  16. Hi all,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    As Sideshow Bob has said, the reason for the title is, regardless of where he’s going (no deal with Real has been completed as of yet), he’s the one name we’ve been linked with more than most since the season ended and really for the last two years or so.

    As for the ABU crew on here, I think you guys had better keep dreaming that we’re on the decline and the club will die when Fergie goes. The red flag will keep flying high.

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