Football Features

Transfer committee material? The active players these Man Utd legends would (probably) target

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 13:45, 26 May 2019

Manchester United are putting together a transfer committee.

In an effort to be less of a joke in the transfer market, according to reports, the Red Devils are looking to put together a three-man group of their former players to offer advice in terms of transfer targets, ensuring the club can avoid expensive flops like Alexis Sánchez in the future. One name already said to have been approached is Darren Fletcher, and supposedly Rio Ferdinand is another name in consideration.

Which got us thinking, they may exist as a kind of failsafe, but what kind of players would these United legends recommend if given the chance? And then, what players would other United legends recommend if they were asked? Well, we thought about it and came up with this list of United legends and the players they would recommend the club sign.

Darren Fletcher picks Wilfred Ndidi

Let’s start with the man who’s confirmed to have actually been consulted: Darren Fletcher. The midfielder was a workhorse for the club in midfield and would likely take one look at the current United midfield and surmise they need a player with his kind of talents. Enter Wilfred Ndidi, who attempted the joint-most tackles in the Premier League this season (142). The Leicester man isn’t a flashy name but is a phenomenally capable defensive midfielder whose dogged work-rate would cover for the overly attacking nature of other the United midfielders – much as Fletcher did years ago.

Rio Ferdinand picks Jadon Sancho

Ferdinand was a centre-back but is a big believer in talent and confidence, flair and expression, which is why he’s already on record saying that he would love to have Jadon Sancho at Manchester United. In one of his recent BT appearances, Rio said: “I would take him all day. English, young, hungry and talented, that’s all I need to know.” Sancho is a blisteringly fast winger and a phenomenally creative player, notching more assists than anyone else in the Bundesliga this season. He would cost a pretty penny, but he totally worth it.

Eric Cantona picks Christian Eriksen

Eric Cantona is an artist, an idealist. He has spoken of wanting to manage United before, but it would be a disaster. That said, including him on a transfer committee to provide a touch of hope and magic? Not the worst idea. Then again, Cantona did say three years ago that,”for me, today, the best player in the world, the most exciting player in the world, is Pastore from Paris St Germain. Why? Because I watched two games just to see Pastore playing, giving passes.”

A bold claim, and probably not one he’d follow up on today given how the Argentine has failed to really improve. However, Christian Eriksen of Spurs plays football with a similar sense of creative zest to Pastore with a little bit more end product. It’s likely that Cantona would nominate the delightful Dane.

Gary Neville picks Youri Tielemans

In his job as a pundit, Gary Neville can often betray his feelings about matters when talking about his old club. And when he was speaking back in April after Youri Tielemans had destroyed Arsenal whilst Manchester United laboured for a draw, he intimated that Manchester United could do with a midfielder like him (which they certainly can) especially as his price-tag is rumoured to be just £40m.

Paul Scholes picks James Maddison

Paul Scholes was a masterful playmaker. The Englishman had a knack for surging behind an opponents midfield and wreaking havoc ahead of their defence. It tracks that he’d want someone similar for United’s midfield, a partner for Pogba’s more manic energy. Scholes also seems like a man that keeps things close to home, so he’d look at young English sensation James Maddison and think “yeah, he’ll do.” Maddison has the skill-set and the temperament to thrive in a 4-3-3 midfield next to Pogba ahead of a defensive midfielder.

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Ryan Giggs picks Gareth Bale

Giggsy’s not exactly a man with a wide breadth of knowledge with regards to football, if one particular recent interview is anything to go by. He knows a lot about what he knows but that’s a narrow range. When asked about Gareth Bale’s form he responded that he didn’t have Eleven Sports so couldn’t watch La Liga! Still, Gareth Bale, the oft-magnificent oft-useless Welsh wing-forward is looking for a way out of Real Madrid that would let him maintain dignity and Giggs would certainly recommend Manchester United sign him and give him the no. 11 shirt.

David Beckham picks Antoine Griezmann

David Beckham is box office. No matter what he does, he attracts attention. Antoine Griezmann is pretty much the same, only much less cool. He’s a better player than Beckham ever was, however, and his brother is a United fan. As a result, one can see Beckham recommending United add a little (or, a lot) bit of razzle-dazzle to their forward line with this superstar. Ed Woodward probably agrees!

Roy Keane picks Ivan Rakitic

There’s not much that Roy Keane can’t suck the fun out of. He’s a very stern man who hates young people and social media (and joy, probably) so naturally, he would suggest a brilliant but boring player like Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian is a world-class midfielder who may actually be available from Barcelona as the Catalans look to rebuild, and you just know Keane would love how “sensible” he is and how he “just gets on with it” in defence and attack, not needing any particular formation to show his skills.

Ruud van Nistelrooy picks Harry Kane

C’mon, of course he does. Ruud’s a natural-born goalscoring No.9 and besides one season of Robin van Persie and 2/3rds of one from Rooney, United haven’t come close to anything like that since the Dutchman left. So Van Nistelrooy would look for the world’s best no. 9 and point at him. It’s unlikely Daniel Levy would ever sell him to United, but it’d be an interesting summer.

Edwin van der Sar picks Matthijs de Ligt

Van der Sar is an incredibly intelligent and perceptive guy. That’s why he’s currently Ajax CEO and is overseeing the club’s dream new era where they have re-entered the European stage in a big bad way. Van der Sar was a United legend so would definitely want a prized Ajax player to go to Old Trafford, and who better than Matthijs de Ligt? The towering Dutch prodigy is a hand-in-glove fit for the United centre-back need and given his age he could spend over a decade playing for and leading United.

Jaap Stam picks Kalidou Koulibaly

Jaap Stam is truly idolised by United fans, and as a powerhouse defender who was immense in the treble-winning season and then watched United’s defence struggle for a few years after he was sold, he would definitely pick a centre-back. For Stam, the defender would have to be an organiser and physically imposing, just as he was. Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli is the foremost example of such a defender. He is literally everything United need, and with Stam’s knowledge of Serie A, he would definitely swoop in to secure Koulibaly whatever the price.

Nemanja Vidic picks Harry Maguire

Nemanja Vidic was very, very hard. He was a great defender too (albeit one who sometimes fell to bits whenever you dribbled his way) and he was especially dominant in the air. As a result, you can see him practically foaming at the mouth to pick Harry Maguire for Manchester United. The Englishman is hard, a great defender and he has an absolutely massive head which seems like the kind of thing Vidic would appreciate. Maguire would be a huge (literally) presence in the United defence, which some would say is exactly what they need.