January means one thing, and one thing only, in the football world. It’s the opening of the January transfer window.
This means teams all over Europe can strengthen their squads and, perhaps, add the missing piece to further solidify their status as a contender on the domestic or European level.
That’s what Manchester United are trying to do. The title race in the Premier League might be over, but there are lots of things to play for. One goal could be to settle themselves as a Top 4 side. There is also the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup. And of course, building a sustainable winning side for the foreseeable future.
Sometimes that means to get rid of veteran players in order to bring their long-term replacements. And that’s one of the rumours that has been circulating of late, as The Red Devils are reportedly thinking about replacing Michael Carrick with Joao Mario.
Carrick has struggled with injuries all season long. In fact, the 36-year-old registers just one Carabao Cup appearances. He is close to his retirement, and United do not want to miss time trying to find a replacement. Even though Ander Herrera has been dubbed as Carrick’s long-term replacement, there is no doubt Joao Mario would be interesting choice as well.
The Portugal international has not played much of a role for Inter Milan this season, logging just four starts in 13 Serie A appearances during the current term. The 24-year-old playmaker can operate on a number roles, and would certainly look interesting as a central midfielder due to his attacking-minded playing style. He would fit better on a more attacking role, though, and perhaps that would allow Paul Pogba to play as a CM on a full-time basis.
A few things would need to happen to ease Mario’s arrival, though. First of all, United would likely have to send someone out, and Inter have been long admirers of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Could a swap between both parties become an option? The Armenian goes to Inter, and the Portuguese goes to Old Trafford.
Or maybe United purchase Joao Mario straight up. He would definitively add versatility and flair to the side. It would allow Carrick to retire at the end of the season. That way, the team would have enough depth in midfield to cover his absence.
We still don’t know whether United will pull the trigger or not. But landing Joao Mario could be a great addition for a side needing a transfer boost in January. And if that allows Carrick to contemplate his retirement at the end of the season, then so be it.
It’s all about winning now. And the former Sporting Lisbon star would certainly increase the team’s chances of doing so in the near future.