Anyone with an axe to grind regarding Chris Smalling was given ample fuel to set their criticism fires burning on Sunday. The Manchester United defender was sent off against Manchester City for two brainless bookings, leaving his team-mates firmly in the brown stuff for around an hour left of play.
Unsurprisingly the Sky Blues took the bragging rights at the Etihad Stadium, and now United enter their next clash with Crystal Palace with these options…
Defenders available for Man Utd next fixture. R.I.P Man Utd pic.twitter.com/mEGhPcO1UD
— Troll Football (@Troll__Football) November 3, 2014
Ouch! Smalling may also have plunged his own career into doubt as well, with the former Maidstone United defender having failed to justify the sizable fee paid to Fulham for him back in 2010. Time to replace the 24-year-old? Well here are FIVE options if Louis Van Gaal thinks so…
Reports in recent days have suggested that United are after Schalke’s Howedes. Although used as a left-back during Germany’s World Cup triumph, the commanding enforcer is actually a central defender by trade, and has been impressive in that zone of the pitch for his club side for some time.
Impressive in terms of tackling, clearing the ball and making interceptions, the 26-year-old has the traits to be a decent Premier League player, and one that could be the bedrock of United’s backline.
Coached by Louis van Gaal in the Holland set-up, Vlaar is a player to have been consistently linked with Old Trafford in recent months. At 29 the Dutchman is far from a long-term solution to United’s problems, however the dominating centre-back is set to be available at a bargain rate in January. Even though Aston Villa want to tie him don to a new deal, the player himself could exit for a cut-price fee in the New Year, with the Midlanders far from keen to see ‘Concrete Ron’ exit for free six months down the line.
A former United trainee, Pique left the club as a youngster to head back to Barcelona, where he has since developed into one of Europe’s top centre-backs. With experience of the biggest games on the biggest stages both domestically and internationally, the 27-year-old has the know-how and authority to step into the Red Devils’ back line and sort out the mess he may find.
Barca are thought to be ready to sell for around £20m, but LVG would have to see off rumoured interest from Chelsea.
From the Premier League Team of the Season in his debut campaign, Vertonghen has almost slipped off the radar at Spurs. The Belgian is rumoured to be discontented with life at ‘The Lane’, with the club’s inability to match his Champions League aspirations believed to be the major sticking point.
2012/13 was certainly the 27-year-old’s best showing, and if United could get him motivated and firing they may have one of the division’s best centre-backs at their disposal. Spurs themselves may be open to selling, with the defender having opted against opening contract talks in recent months.
At 21, Stuttgart’s Rudiger is currently one of European football’s most talked about young centre-backs. A regular in the Bundesliga side’s first-team, the starlet has also represent Germany at senior international level, and is widely being tipped to become one of the ‘best in the business’.
He hasn’t quite set the world alight in recent games, but United could well move for Rudiger to secure their backline for the coming years. Van Gaal has a proven track record with emerging talent, which could be of benefit to the former Dortmund youth prospect.
Not dissimilar to Vincent Kompany, the 6ft. 3” ace is adept at charging out from the back and provides the physical presence United currently lack.