Manchester United: Why £20m Man Joao Moutinho Is A Perfect Paul Scholes Replacement

Paul Scholes has been a Premier League stalwart since it's 1992 inception. Yet at 37, this season looks like being his last. Manchester United should look to move for Joao Moutinho as his immediate replacement...
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Paul Scholes has been a Premier League stalwart since it's 1992 inception. Yet at 37, this season looks like being his last. Manchester United should look to move for Joao Moutinho as his immediate replacement...

Joao Moutinho was cruelly overlooked as one of the players of Euro 2012, according to some. Whereas the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Andres Iniesta and Xavi were stealing the limelight at the tournament, Moutinho was the midfielder that made things tick for Portugal. All action, breaking up play and instigating attacks; he was part of the reason the national side made it through to the semi-finals.

Starting his senior career with Sporting Lisbon, before controversially moving on to FC Porto, the 25-year-old was pivotal to the Portuguese giants’ unbeaten season of 2010/11, picking up a domestic and European treble. Under now Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas, Moutinho excelled in the middle of the park, before seeing his name linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

His versatility has helped contribute to his long list of admirers, with the Porto star comfortable across any position in the midfield. It is these attributes which is why Premier League giants Manchester United should move for Moutinho before any rivals can get their hands on Portugal international.

Reports suggest that the 12-time Premiership champions had lodged a £20m bid for Moutinho over the past week. If that is the case, it will be a wise investment on their behalf. The midfielder saw his stock rise considerably over Euro 2012 and interest is likely to be high in the race for his signature. Spurs are one that have been linked, with the 25-year-old believed to be keen on linking up again with Villas-Boas.

Starting his senior career with Sporting Lisbon, before controversially moving on to FC Porto, the 25-year-old was pivotal to the Portuguese giants’ unbeaten season of 2010/11, picking up a domestic and European treble.

However, the financial backing that United possess mean they can afford to outmuscle the North London giants in any race to sign Moutinho. Furthermore, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side need to strengthen heavily in the middle of the park, despite the arrival of Shinji Kagawa. The Japan international joined from Borussia Dortmund last month, but is a different midfielder from his Portuguese counterpart.

The 23-year-old prefers to play closer to the strikers, rather than sit back and dictate the play, his 29 goals in two years for the Bundesliga champions a testament to this. Moutinho, can play a similar role, would be more suited to the deep-lying playmaker position, currently occupied by Paul Scholes.

Despite signing a new one-year extension at Old Trafford following his return from pre-mature retirement, Manchester United still need to begin thinking about life after the Scholes. With the midfield dynamo set to turn 38 in November, this will surely be his last year in professional football before calling it a day for a second time.

With Scholes occupying the space between the defence and the midfield, it gives him the ability to put his vision and passing accuracy to detrimental use. Furthermore, the 37-year-old is prone to breaking forward and it was hardly surprising to net four for United last season. Ferguson will likely be looking to bring in a player who can perform a similar role to the stalwart.

Understandably, the Manchester outfit have been heavily linked with a move for Spurs’ own deep-lying playmaker Luka Modric. However, the North Londoners chairman Daniel Levy is unlikely to sell to a rival Premier League outfit, unless the offer exceeds £50m. With that in mind, switching targets to Moutinho is hardly a shock.

The midfielder came close to signing for Everton four years ago, before remaining in Lisbon. Yet, despite opting against moving to England in 2008, swapping countries could be a stark possibility this summer. Scholes will need replacing sooner rather than later and with the dup sharing similar playing styles; Moutinho is likely to be high on Ferguson’s wish list.

Nevertheless, the reported £20m bid is unlikely to deter Porto. Mounting speculation suggests the Portuguese champions won’t settle for anything less than €32m for one of their prized assets. Even if that is the case, Manchester United should show serious consideration into investing in the 25-year-old.

Scholes’ age means he won’t be able to perform to his high standards next season and the game count is likely to drop throughout the campaign. Bringing Moutinho in this summer alleviate the pressure that would undoubtedly come with a big money move, whilst give him a year to properly settle into his new surroundings. Either way, with Scholes-esc players becoming rarer and more expensive in modern football, bringing the Portugal star in this summer would help ease the loss of the 37-year-old, who is expected to hang up his boots at the end of the coming season.

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