Paul Scholes has announced that he would be joining Gary Neville and Edwin Van Der Sar in retiring from football. The midfielder was renowned for his tenacious play, range of passing and amazing work rate, and despite calls from fellow professionals to stay on, after seventeen years in the Red Devils first team, the former England international has decided to call it a day. Speculation is always rife around Old Trafford but will no doubt increase tenfold, especially with every journalist having their own idea for possible replacements for Scholes. Naturally the cliché that Scholes boots are impossible to fill will be thrown around but who are the main candidates to give it a go?
The Croatian has perhaps not received the plaudits he has deserved this season, with Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart stealing the show, but the former Dinamo Zagreb has been the ‘heartbeat’ of Spurs’ play. Modric possesses several attributes of the retiring Scholes, strong on the ball, exquisite passing and has the ability to change a game. Where the midfielder prevents himself from being a ‘like for like’ signing is his goal scoring ability, yes Modric does score goals and yes, he can score from all angles and distances much like Scholes. However the Croatian doesn’t score regularly enough like the Englishman, over the years’ Scholes’ goals have been key in United’s success and there inability to replace these could prove costly in the 2011/12 Premier League season.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a huge admirer of the Everton youngster, with speculation linking Rodwell with Old Trafford all season. The Toffee’s star isn’t like the retired Manchester United star with regards to Scholes’ attacking qualities, Rodwell is very much a defensive minded player. However the midfielder is a very strong tackler and very assured when on the ball, much like the man he could be replacing, was. At the age of twenty, there are question marks over whether the Everton man could replace Scholes instantly, but having already established himself as a regular in David Moyes’ starting line up, he has had valuable experience.
Daniele De Rossi
The 2009 Italian footballer of the year has been monitored closely by Sir Alex since he made his debut in 2001 for Roma. De Rossi is regarded more as a defensive midfielder but can play the ‘box to box’ role that Scholes has done so assuredly for years. The Italian’s experience would be a huge positive for Fergie, having played in World Cup’s, in the Champions League and made over 200 competitve appearances for Roma. De Rossi could be another leader in the dressing room after losing such strong characters in Neville, Van Der Sar and Scholes.
The Inter Milan midfielder has had an inspired couple of seasons, at club and international level, it is hard to believe he is still only twenty six years old. The former Ajax man is quick, tenacious on the ball and has impeccable passing accuracy and range, many of the talents Scholes has been praised for throughout his career. I would say the Dutch maestro’s weakness (for want of a better word), is that he isn’t the most defensive attacking midfielder (if there is such a thing). When Scholes played he would be the rearguard in front of the defence, breaking up the play and then two minutes later he would be unleashing a twenty yard screamer into the roof of the opponents net, Sneijder would have to attend to his defensive duties if he were to replace the Manchester United ‘legend’.
The attacking midfielder was a key player in helping Borussia Dortmund win the Bundesliga title this season. Gotze has the technical skill and creativity to be a world class player, with German Football Association’s Matthias Sammer calling him “one of the best talents we’ve ever had.” At eighteen Gotze may be even too much of a gamble even for Fergie, who regularly places his faith in youth, but with Real Madrid reported to also be huge admirers of the German international, Fergie may make a move.
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