After seeming as if he was close to a recovery Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves has suffered yet another setback and it looks as though the club may have to replace him as he continues to suffer these perennial injury problems.
His manager Sir Alex Ferguson is unsure when the midfielder will be back in action:
“He will not be ready for the start of the season. I do not know when he will be back.”
He is a great holding midfielder, but you cannot rely on his fitness and here are three players I think could fill that role for the Old Trafford outfit:
Mohamed Diamé: The 23-year-old defensive midfielder has enjoyed some good form at his current Premier League club Wigan and is pretty underrated for a player in his position, but it was in the Spanish Segunda Division he made his name playing for Rayo Vallecano.
After impressing at Vallecano he became linked with some big name clubs including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Arsenal. But it was Wigan who signed him amidst a few alleged heart problems surrounding the player.
Diamé is physically commanding, is good in the air, a tough tackler and his long-range passing is a real bonus to his game.
Last season Diamé was the second highest tackler in the Premier League with 176, which was just two behind Javier Mascherano of Liverpool who came in a first place. The Senegalese born midfielder also had a 71% success rate with the challenges he made.
Anthony Annan: The Ghanaian international currently plies his trade in Norway with Rosenborg BK, but many would expect him to move on after his impressive form at the World Cup in South Africa.
The 23-year-old was one of the most impressive performers in the World Cup for his position and essentially played the so-called ‘Makelele role’ better than any other player in the tournament during a fairly successful campaign for Ghana, who were a little unfortunate not to be the first African side to made the last four.
Annan has been a long-term target for Chelsea and many believe that he could become the next Michael Essien, but I see him as much more of a Claude Makelele type player. Recent reports have linked him with Manchester United, Chelsea and Lyon, but he has been cool on any transfer talks.
The Rosenborg midfielder seems unfazed by the speculation surround him and said:
“I am fine at the moment. I’ve heard a lot about me going every summer but nothing is fazing me. It is good to hear about Man United, Chelsea and Lyon, but nothing is official.
“It is flattering. Lyon is a big team in Europe, but I have a contract with Rosenborg until December 2011 so let’s wait and see.”
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Sami Khedira: The Stuttgart midfielder, 23, got his chance to play in the German first XI at the World Cup due to Michael Ballack’s injury and made the most of it with his impressive displays.
The World Cup TV pundits and journalists have done their fair share of gushing over eventual winners Spain, but Germany were arguably the best footballing side in South Africa and many were shocked at how good the young Germany team were.
Khedira represents a new German side along with the likes of Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Jerome Boateng. The Stuttgart man was also the captain of the German side who won the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship as well as helping his side win third place at senior level.
He is a little different to the other two players in this short list as he is much of a deep-lying playmaker rather than a ball winner like Annan or Diamé, but a passer could be just what United need due to Paul Scholes’ age and Michael Carrick wasting the opportunities that have come his way.
Khedira’s valuation would have gone up after this tournament, but he is more in United’s price range at £8 million than a player like Bastian Schweinsteiger, who could cost around £25-£30+ million.
I believe any of these players would represent a good purchase for Manchester United, but of course Ferguson has stated his intention to promote youth within the club. This could be down the lack of funds at the club which is suffering some debt issues, or the Manchester United boss has faith in youngsters such as Paul Pogba who may be able to fill the Hargreaves void.
Do fans think Manchester United should sign a Owen Hargreaves replacement?