Nemanja Vidic was recognized as one of the world’s best center backs with the Serbian’s partnership with Rio Ferdinand was the spine that allowed the Red Devils to win a hat trick of Premier League titles and the prestigious Champions League.
So, what has changed in the past two years and why should United look at selling the defender?
Vidic in the last 18 months has been dogged by persistent injuries to his knees which have not only limited his time on the field, but also hampered his performances.
He ruptured his knee ligaments in the Champions League defeat against FC Basel almost 15 months ago. The injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. However when he did make his return at the start of this season, he looked a shadow of the player who was once known to be one of the best defenders in the world. He then had another injury lay off only to return this December.
These injuries cannot be ignored and the fact that in the last two seasons he has only managed to make 19 appearances in the Premier League is a cause for concern though this doesn’t seem to deter his possible suitors.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked in the defender’s case is the fact that he is not getting any younger. Vidic is now 31 and his price will start falling as he gets older and hence it would be foolish not to sell him at this point of time.
The emergence of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and to a lesser extent Chris Smalling also has to be looked at when considering the proposition to sell Vidic.
There have been rumours linking both Ferdinand and Vidic with moves away from United and this could possibly mean that Ferguson might be toying with the idea of refreshing his options at the back. Ferdinand’s troubles with injury are also well documented and it is interesting to note that the England center back is yet to sign a new contract, with his current deal ending this summer.
Evans is now nearing his peak and with Jones also proving his mettle in some big games this season for United, the manager might feel that he has his options at the back sorted for the near future. In fact United have averaged 2.72 points per game when Evans has started this season, which is the highest of any player in the Premier League. Manchester United prides itself with its youth policy and Ferguson might feel that he can finally allow his youth brigade to take over the reins from Vidic and Ferdinand.
Not only the 3 players mentioned above but also Michael Keane and Scott Wootton who could expect more chances next season after their impressive performances in the teams where they have been loaned out to in the second half of the season.
When you talk about how the game has evolved in recent times, you also note the changes in what is now required in modern day center backs. Gerard Pique, Mats Hummels, Johnny Evans, Gary Cahill are all examples of what managers look for, players who are comfortable on the ball and play it back from the back.
Nemanja Vidic falls into the more old school art of defending which is to shield your goal by clearing the ball at all costs. The fact that United are being linked with players much more comfortable on the ball than Vidic himself also points towards a change. The Argentinean Ezequiel Garay has been one of the players who have been rumuored to join United in recent times. He would not only add more experience into the side, but also be available to the Manchester club at a time when he is expected to reach his peak.
The point comes down to the fact that declining performance levels, age and emergence of the younger players at Manchester United, sees Vidic no more an irreplaceable player in the squad. There is always a chance that he could find himself on the treatment table for a recurrence of the injury, which could reduce the length of his career. The past two seasons has shown that the Manchester club is ready to move on without the Serbian defender in the future and an offer by interested parties of over €10 million would certainly tempt United to sell the once defensive stalwart of the Red Devils defence.
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