Date: 17th May 2011 at 12:41am
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Lassana Diarra

Could the Real Madrid man be United's new enforcer?

Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra’s days at the Bernabeu look numbered as he will soon find himself even further down the pecking order with the arrival of Nuri Sahin confirmed for the Summer.

The man originally touted as the next Makelele will hardly be short of suitors across with his versatility and superb defensive capabilities.

Having already represented three clubs in the Premier League, the French international would be well positioned for a return to England. And, with champions-in-waiting Manchester United the latest club to be linked with the player, would Diarra be the ideal man to bolster the United midfield?

United have lacked a real midfield enforced since the days of Roy Keane. Whilst Paul Scholes has adopted a deeper role in recent seasons and remains a master in possession, he has never really excelled at the tackling side of the game. Similarly, is more comfortable in possession of the ball than he is tackling, whilst Owen Hargreaves constant injury problems have turned him into a ghost at Old Trafford.

But, Sir Alex Ferguson has since adopted a different playing style as the rigid 4-4-2 of old has often been replaced been replaced by a 4-3-3. The tenacity of Keane has been replaced by the energy and work rate of Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung whilst the likes of Scholes, and now Ryan Giggs all distribute from the middle. So would a deep-lying holding midfielder really fit in with United’s tactics and justify the transfer fee?

People have also raised questions about Diarra’s attitude off the field. Having played for five clubs in six years, Madrid would be the third club for the player to leave after things had not worked out and Ferguson would surely be loathe to adopt a player with a bad attitude. And, whilst a versatile performer, this has counted against him at Chelsea, Arsenal and to an extent Real Madrid where, rather than playing in his favoured position in the centre of midfield, he has been annexed at full back. And, if he was such a good holding midfielder, then why would Real have insisted on playing Pepe, a centre back by trade, in that position instead?

Bearing in mind Diarra moved to Real for around £20 million only a year and a half ago, he would not come cheap. Whilst Real would accept a loss on the player, figures upwards of £12 million have still been quoted for Diarra and, if United were to spend big then surely they would look more closely at the likes of Roma’s Daniele De Rossi. Alternatively, a cheaper option could be Newcastle’s Ivorian midfielder Cheik Tioté.

However, if Manchester United want a player with Premiership experience who understands the fast-paced and physical nature of the English game then Diarra could be a fantastic fit. With 28 caps for France to his name and having only just turned 26, he could be a great signing if Ferguson feels his midfield needs a bit more energy and tenacity. Whilst some may have questioned his attitude and he has struggled to excel under the likes of Jose Mourinho, if there is one manager who could get the best out of him it would surely be Sir Alex Ferguson.

Came across this article in our sister site and had to agree that Diarra is a quality player who although not exactly cheap could prove a bargain. Personally I’d like to see and Ryan Tunnicliffe given a chance but that might not be next season and in the mean time Diarra could prove the perfect choice. – Ed.

By Richard Perry for Football Fancast