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Manchester United transfer window preview: Central midfield

For the first time in absolutely ages, Manchester United look pretty well stocked in the middle of the park.

Stephen Pond/Getty Images

It's the middle of December, and that means only one thing: every single pub in England is full of occasional Christmas drinkers who take forever to order their drinks, even longer to pay for them, and then right at the end remember to say "oh, and four pints of Guinness." A moment's thought wouldn't go amiss, part-time Christmas drinkers. Some of us are trying to poison ourselves slowly closer to death here, and wouldn't mind a little peace in the process.

Oh, sorry. Wrong website. It's the middle of December, and that means only one thing: WATCH OUT EVERYBODY, THE TRANSFER WINDOW IS A-COMING. The new year means new players for most clubs, and we suspect Manchester United might well be doing — or at least trying to do — a little shopping. But where do they need to reinforce? We looked at the defence a week or so ago, so today we move on to the central midfield.


Are you sitting down? Because here comes a sentence that will shock, stun, and possibly appall you; a sentence that had you read it any time over the last five or six years would have had you in tears. Of laughter, possibly. Of despair, probably. Or both. Here it comes, anyway ...

Manchester United probably don't need to buy a central midfielder.

Consider the stocks, listed here in roughly the order in which they should be picked: Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Daley Blind, Nick Powell, and possibly Andreas Pereira. That's not bad. Obviously, injuries and the generally wretched form of the team take some of the gloss off that list, but it should not be beyond the wit of man to get an approaching-excellent midfield out of that lot.

Wayne Rooney is not on that list. There's a reason for that.

Are there any holes? Well, perhaps it lacks a dedicated destroyer; somebody like Nemanja Matic, not that he's been much use this season. Possibly it's a little polite, Fellaini aside. And it's not unimprovable: if Paul Pogba has a sudden change of heart and decides he wants to come rushing back to Manchester, there's probably space for him to slot in somewhere.

This isn't to say that they're being used correctly, of course. The early-season addiction to two holding midfielders was unnecessary and stultifying, Ander Herrera's occasional spells on the naughty step have been deeply frustrating, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, it turns out, isn't young enough to cover an entire defence on his own. Wayne Rooney's found himself back in the engine room a couple of times, and there's no good reason for that.

In terms of personnel and in terms of numbers, though, United are in a fairly acceptable place. There'll be rumours, of course; there are always rumours. But barring something very surprising like a major departure, or a couple of serious, season-ending injuries, we don't think United are going to be doing any business in the middle of the park. Nothing unusual there, of course. We also don't think they need to, and frankly that's just weird.