Focus on Man Utd

Who can replace Paul Scholes?

May 31, 2011
By Jon Carter

With the news that Paul Scholes has decided to retire from playing professional football, ESPNsoccernet looks at who can replace him in the Manchester United midfield next season.

GettyImages / ValerioPennicinoWesley Sneijder: A Dutch international.

Wesley Sneijder - Inter Milan

A gifted midfielder with a host of experience in Europe and international level, Sneijder would not need much time to bed into the United midfield. His range of passing is one of his key attributes and is up there with Scholes in his ability to shoot from range. The Dutchman boasts excellent dead-ball skills as well, but would be hard to tempt away from Inter and has already gone on record to stay that he will be staying at the San Siro next season. A bid of around £35 million could tempt the Italians to begin negotiations and, at only 26, he could be a quality player for United for years to come.

Luka Modric - Tottenham

Tottenham would be loath to lose their star player to another Premier League club, but Modric would improve the United midfield no end. His vision and passing style has brought great success to the London club and he has often been the focal point of attacks. He suffers a little from a lack of physicality, but his desire to win back possession and put in a shift has made him a fan favourite at White Hart Lane. He does not offer the goal threat of some of the other players on the Scholes shortlist, but the Croatian could be the best option if the club can tempt him away with the offer of Champions League football and title challenges.

Javier Pastore - Palermo

The Argentine has enjoyed a relatively small amount of time in the spotlight since arriving in Italy in 2009 but has already marked himself out as one of the best. At 21, he has a lot to learn about the game but has demonstrated excellent skills in the classic No. 10 role. While his vision and elegance on the ball are second to none, there are question marks about his defensive skills - although that didn't seem to hinder Scholes' career too much. Palermo could be forced to sell to "balance their books" and a realistic bid of £30 million - rather than the £50 million the Palermo president has been talking about - could see him arrive. However, his relatively short time in the international fold could count against him.

Marek Hamsik - Napoli

Like Pastore, Hamsik has made a significant impact in Italian football and has been key to Napoli's success in reaching the Champions League this season. A driving force in central midfield, the spiky haired Slovakian has been scoring goals for fun and what he lacks defensive nous, he makes up for in attacking vision. A disappointing personal performance at the 2010 World Cup saw him fail to live up to his billing and his price may have dropped a little since. Still, £25 million is around the figure needed to bring him to Old Trafford, yet his words about the successes of Napoli this season could see him stay.

Promote from within

After watching his side come second best to Barcelona in the Champions League this season, the thought that Sir Alex Ferguson will not dip into his pocket this summer would make United fans shudder. The lack of central creativity has been obvious, yet Fergie has already got Anderson, Michael Carrick, Darron Gibson and the returning loanee Tom Cleverley to fill any void. With Ryan Giggs preferring a central role these days, perhaps the club will save their cash to spend on a goalkeeper - most likely David de Gea at £17 million - and more defensive cover.