Michael Carrick is an expectional player and will go down as one of our best players in the last decade. The fact that we haven’t lost a game this season when he plays and it gives the other players more freedom while he stays back and protects the defence. A player like that is hard to replace, but there are definitely options, and I will list 5 players, different kinds of players, who could replace Carrick and keep that back line protected. Whether an exact replacement or a complete opposite in the way they play but still could succeed in replacing Carrick
At the club: Daily Blind
I personally don’t see the point spending money in the market if we have a player who could replace Carrick when we already have him at the club. I’ve always been a fan of Blind, his versatility has been a blessing for us in the past few seasons, helping out when we have injuries in key positions. He’s such an intelligent player as well. One reason he was played at the back next to Smalling was because he could read the game so well. Blind might not have the physicality or the height necessary needed for this kind of role, but nor does Carrick. Both players’s games are built on reading the game and neutralising a threat before there is one. Blind wouldn’t need time to settle because he’s been in the league for a while now. If we did end up buying Griezmann and a centre half, then we wouldn’t need to spend more when we already have a player at the club to replace Carrick. Blind played 56 games for us last season, proving he doesn’t need the rest like Carrick has needed because of his age. I would be happy to see him replace Carrick, I think he’s improved since he signed and I hope he stays for a while.
Another at the club: Timothy Fosu-Mensah
I’m fully aware that he is still very young but this guy is the real deal. He might be very different player to Carrick but will be just as effective. Fosu has the potential to be a world class defensive midfielder, with his natural physicality and determination to impress whenever I see him play. The best thing about him is his bulldog approach to being a defensive midfielder, being similar to the likes of Kante and Roy Keane. He’s a hard tackler as well, I recall him playing against spurs and putting Erikson and Rose in his pocket, even covering for the incompetent centre backs because they weren’t doing good enough. When I see performances like those it makes me want to see him stay at United for a while. I just hope Mourinho doesn’t limit his game time and gives him more than 10 minutes here and there. He needs a start or even half an hour, to show what he can do.
The ideal replacement: Toni Kroos
Damn I love this guy so much. Toni Kroos is the best midfielder in the world by a long shot, because of how consistent he has been since his days at Bayern Munich. He might not have the box to box ability of someone like Vidal or Pogba, but for replacing Carrick, there is no one better suited. Toni Kroos is so good at picking out players, being able to notice space from anywhere on the pitch. He also reminds me a bit of Paul Scholes, in the way he controls the game and gets forward. Toni Kroos has a pass accuracy of 93% and has completed 849 passes this season, which is just unbelievable. One underrated quality of Carrick is his ability to control the game and slow it down if need be, and with someone like Toni Kroos there, it’ll be like Carrick never left.
If not Toni Kroos: Julian Weigl
Toni Kroos would be the ideal replacement for Michael Carrick, but not the most realistic. The chances of taking Kroos away from Madrid during Zidane’s time in charge is almost impossible. Zidane has already stated many times he doesn’t want to sell a single player and is happy with his team. A more realistic choice would be Julian Weigl. Weigl might not have the experience and consistency of Toni Kroos, but those are all things that will improve overtime for Weigl. He clearly has the potential to achieve the level that Kroos is at. In fact he is achieving some pretty high numbers at Dortmund right now. He has a pass accuracy of 91% and has completed 1021 passes this season, which are ridiculous numbers for a 21 years old. It shows his clear composure and intelligence. He already seems like a very mature player. Many critics have compared him to Sergio Busquets, which would be a huge compliment to the German. The likeliness of getting Weigl wouldn’t be hard, but would cost a lot. He has been exceptional for Dortmund since his debut last season and is invaluable to them. Dortmund are a selling club naturally so they wouldn’t reject a bid from us, but it’s how much will we offer is the real question.
A realistic replacement: Tiemoué Bakayoko
Similar to Fosu, he will do the same job as Carrick but in a different way. Carrick himself isn’t an energetic and aggressive player. He relies on his reading of the game and controlling the tempo to take advantage. Bakayoko on the other hand is the opposite. He is an aggressive player who isn’t afraid to go in for the tackle. He will protect the defence in more natural way, making sure no one gets past him. He gives more energy to the role than Carrick could. His passing might not have completed as many passes as the likes of Weigl and Kroos, completing 611 passes this season, but the passes that go forward are much higher. 81% of his passes go forward, while only 71% of Weigl’s passes go forward. Bakayoko is a more direct player than the other, putting his body first over reading the game. He is the most realistic because Monacco are a club that have been brilliant in bringing in young talent, so they wouldn’t have a problem selling him. In fact we’ve already been linked to him with a £40m bid. I hope we get him cheaper then that, because Greizmann is the player we’ll need in the summer and we don’t want to be spending more money on other players.