Manchester United have been constantly linked with various defensive midfielders for a number of years. After struggling with players like Anderson and Cleverley, United finally brought in Ander Herrera and Daley Blind to address their midfield problems. Even then, as the previous campaign suggests, midfield is a key area they need to improve if they are to challenge for the title and compete in Europe. Assistant Manager, Ryan Giggs, in his recent interview once again stressed the importance of strengthening the spine of the team and midfield is a key area in that aspect. Recently, Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton has been constantly linked with a move to United. If reports are to be believed, the Frenchman is on his way to Old Trafford for a fee of £24M. United have had great midfielders in the past with the likes of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
But, they have been lacking quality in that department ever since Keane left and Scholes retired and they were never really replaced. You could make a case for Michael Carrick, but the classy Englishman has been hit by injuries and the fact that he will be 34 come July 28th, doesn’t help his cause either. Daley Blind can be a solid defensive midfielder but he has been found wanting on more than a few occasions and frequent injuries to Luke Shaw forced him to play at left-back for the most part of last season. Ander Herrera is creative but he is not a destroyer; a midfield enforcer that United so badly need. Circumstances have forced United to play Wayne Rooney in that position, sacrificing his attacking instincts. Those are the games in which United have suffered the most. Schneiderlin would definitely improve United’s midfield by a long way, especially with Champions League looming over their head. A tough tackling midfielder, with an eye for goal, he has certainly come a long way to catch the eye of clubs like United and Arsenal with his sparkling performances week in, week out. Here’s a look at how he fares compared to the club’s current midfielders.
As the SQUAWKA comparison matrix shows, Schneiderlin clearly leads the way when it comes to winning tackles and ariel duals – two key attributes for a defensive midfielder. United’s midfielders have 0 errors leading to goals thanks to David de Gea but as for Schneiderlin, 0 errors leading to goals at a team like Southampton is commendable. He has the second most interceptions and clearances made, second only to Daley Blind. He’s also made the second most blocks while Carrick has made the most blocks.
To go with his defensive work rate, Schneiderlin’s creativity makes for a good reading as well. Since he plays with a fellow defensive midfielder in Victor Wanyama, he has had the opportunity to go forward to show the attacking side of his game, scoring 5 goals in the previous campaign; a decent tally for a defensive midfielder. He has also made the most successful passes with a pass completion rate of 89%. Only Michael Carrick is better with 90%. Daley Blind leads the way with total forward passes and Herrera has created the most chances.
A midfield consisting of Herrera and Schneiderlin would work wonders for United assuming Carrick cannot play week in, week out and for a price of £24M, for a guy with Premier League experience, he is definitely worth it.