Arsenal have this morning been linked to long-term target Javi Garcia. Manchester United should get the deal done now...
Manchester United have never replaced Roy Keane. A fact that does not detract from Alex Ferguson’s recent Manchester United reign, but rather underlines the tactical brilliance of Fergie that has kept the United juggernaut rolling. Hargreaves, Carrick, Fletcher have attempted to fill the defensive midfield void with fluctuating periods of success. We all know about the cruel factors mitigating Hargreaves’ career; Carrick is an assured deep-lying midfielder but will never become a force in European football; and for all the bite and guile that Fletcher has added to his game you could still not argue he is the lynchpin an all-conquering side could be built around. Yes the aforementioned trio have carried the mantle better than poor Eric Djemba-Djemba did in the post-Keane era, but the absence of an out-and-out holding midfielder remains a chink in the United armoury.
And that’s where Benfica’s Javi Garcia comes into the equation. Along with fellow heavyweights AC Milan, Mnchester United are reportedly lining up the Real Madrid graduate, and £27m million could end the 6-year search for Keane’s true heir. You could rightly argue this defensive midfield ‘problem’ is in danger of being over-dramatised given the Reds’ year-on-year consistency in bolstering the silverware cabinet, not to mention the ruthless manner in which they’ve seized the Premier League title race this season. But United’s success owes itself to attacking brilliance and individual flair, which needs marrying with a rock-solid core.
When the club appeared to be on the wane in the immediate years following Keane’s journey North of the border, right on cue Cristiano Ronaldo became super-human in his power, skill, goals and assists to reignite the club’s fortunes. Rooney has ably maintained United’s attacking force and is now supported by the wing talents of Nani and Young, with Chicharito adding clinical firepower. All the above have been, and are, a joy to watch. But their regular one-man shows paper over the flimsiness of the central spine. Fletcher, Carrick and Anderson play supporting roles, prompting these talents. There is no steely mainstay to truly complete the outfit. The strength, aggression and wealth of defensive qualities exhibited by Javi Garcia in half a century of games for Benfica have shown he is the missing piece of an already exceptional jigsaw – a 500 piece epic jigsaw, which makes a bloomin' great picture.
No longer surrounded by the overbearing Galacticos, Garcia has thrived at the Estadio Da Luz and plays with an authority that belies his years.
Javi is cousins with diminutive Anfield favourite Luis Garcia, but before United fans rile themselves up over Scouse connections, there is astonishingly little in Javi’s play that will remind them of Luis show-boating in front of the Kop - the Benfica battler is quite the antithesis of his cousin. He’s 6 foot 1 and an aerial colossus for starters, a typical set-piece target. Having failing to establish himself at the Bernebau, Benfica swooped for the then 22-year old in 2009 and consecutive league titles have promptly followed. No longer surrounded by the overbearing Galacticos, Garcia has thrived at the Estadio Da Luz and plays with an authority that belies his years. He has also operated as a centre-half, highlighting his robustness and leadership qualities.
When United’s talismanic forwards are off colour this season, they’ll need the solidity to keep the ship afloat. In Barry, de Jong, Toure and co, the Blue half of Manchester has this in abundance, ready to compensate if Silva, Aguero and Nasri flag. It’s time for United to follow suit and end their reliance on the forward line. The search for the Roy Keane heir has to end one day, and if the hype surrounding Javi Garcia is worthy, the end is nigh.
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