Ferguson eyes long-term replacements for Paul Scholes

Man United boss keen to sign a midfielder worthy of filling Paul Scholes' boots as he nears the end of his career

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Wesley Sneijder
Sneijder has been linked with a summer move to Old Trafford Photo: Inter.it

Wesley Sneijder

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is on the lookout for a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes this summer.

Scholes, 36, has been a fabulous servant for United but the former England international has been limited to just nine Premier League starts this season, and with United’s rivals all expected to strengthen their squads in the transfer window, Ferguson must finally identify a target capable of filling the void left by the midfielder.

Wesley Sneijder

Ferguson’s first choice is Internazionale’s Wesley Sneijder. The Netherlands international sparkled for the Milan club last season, helping them claim a famous treble after swapping Real Madrid for the Serie A side.

Inter paid €15m (£13.3m) to land the attacking midfielder in 2009 but United would likely have to shell out at least twice as much to tempt the Serie A champions into selling one of their prized assets.

The Italian press has recently been awash with rumours suggesting that Sneijder wants to leave the San Siro following a disagreement with Inter boss Leonardo.

The former Brazilian international dropped the 26-year-old in the wake of Inter’s 3-0 derby defeat by AC Milan and their premature exit from the Champions League following a 7-3 aggregate loss to Schalke.

When quizzed over a possible move to Old Trafford, the Holland international did little to quell the speculation linking him with the Red Devils. He said: “Do I want to go to United? It’s a beautiful club.”

Marek Hamsík

Ferguson is also reportedly targeting Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsík. The 23-year-old Slovakia captain led his country to the second round of the World Cup last summer, and has been outstanding in helping Napoli mount a serious Serie A title challenge.

Since signing from Brescia in 2007 for €5.5m (£4.8m), the skilful midfielder has blossomed, scoring 44 goals in 150 games, and attracting interest from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Milan and United.

“He has important qualities, and seeing his young age, notable margins for improvement too,” said Milan manager Massimilano Allegri, who has pinpointed Hamsík as a top target.

Luka ModriÄ”¡

Closer to home, Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka ModriÄ”¡ is a prime candidate to take over from Scholes in the fulcrum of United’s midfield.

ModriÄ”¡ has been in glittering form this season and last, helping Spurs qualify for the Champions League last year while combining superbly both with new signing Rafael van der Vaart and Tom Huddlestone as the London side reached the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition this term.

United, who have lured Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov away from White Hart Lane in recent seasons, have been linked with a swoop for the 25-year-old diminutive midfielder in recent weeks.

However, Spurs’ reported £50m asking price for the Croatia international would be likely to deter the English champions elect.

The best of the rest…

Elsewhere, Everton’s Jack Rodwell has also been touted as a target for Ferguson. The 20-year-old broke into the Everton first team in 2008, and while his impact has not been quite as electrifying as former teenage sensation Wayne Rooney, the midfielder has cemented his reputation as one of England’s brightest talents.

If reluctant to spend, Ferguson could look to give the highly-rated Tom Cleverley a first-team chance. Cleverley is coming to the end of his season-long loan at Wigan Athletic and the 21-year-old has impressed in his 20 top flight games for the Latics this term, scoring four goals.

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