Fergie sees Modric as the new Scholes
Published 23:01 31/05/11 By David McDonnell
Sir Alex Ferguson is planning one of the biggest overhauls of his Manchester United squad this summer after Paul Scholes confirmed his decision to retire.
Ferguson heads off for his summer break at Cap Ferrat in the south of France today, having left chief executive David Gill to conclude deals for the targets he has identified.
With Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville retiring in recent months, and Owen Hargreaves being released, United are facing arguably their most radical shake-up since 1995, when Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes were sold.
Ferguson is said to have as much as £50million to spend on a facelift for his squad, with Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric, David De Gea and Ashley Young all on his radar as he attempts to build the last great team of his United dynasty.
With as many as five new arrivals expected, Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown, Darron Gibson, Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen are likely to leave Old Trafford.
United’s comprehensive 3-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final showed Ferguson the glittering standard his side must reach if they are to win him the third European Cup he so desperately craves.
Barca’s peerless slick passing and movement exposed the glaring deficiencies in a squad which, while competent enough to win a moderate Premier League, fell well short of what is required to rule Europe.
Tottenham's Modric remain Ferguson’s top target. The Croatian is seen as the man to bring much-needed energy and guile to a midfield that looked tired and devoid of ideas against Barca’s ebullient side.
Modric, signed from Dynamo Zagreb for £16m three years ago, has been a long-term target for Ferguson, who only four weeks ago picked out the midfielder as his player of the season. He also spoke highly of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, telling Inside United magazine he had “really emerged as a great young talent”.
According to informed United sources, Ferguson views Modric as a perfect replacement for Scholes - an attacking midfielder with a significant goal threat, around whom he can build his new-look line-up.
Modric, who's rated at £25m and could be lured in a player-plus-cash deal that would see Berbatov going back to his former club, has indicated his willingness to leave White Hart Lane following Spurs’ failure to qualify next season's Champions League.
“If there’s an offer [that's] good for Tottenham and [for] me, then a transfer is of course possible,” he said. “When you experience playing in Champions League, you want to keep playing in it.”
Inter Milan and Holland playmaker Sneijder, who has a £35m buy-out clause in his contract, is a less realistic target.
Sneijder signed a new deal with Inter on the back of his impressive World Cup campaign last summer and has said he has no desire to leave Italy.
One player who looks certain to join United is Aston Villa and England winger Ashley Young.
As he will be out of contract next summer, the 25-year-old is available for around £12m - a relative bargain given his age, ability and potential resale value.
United are said to be at an advanced stage with their move for Young who, like Modric, yesterday publicly expressed his desire to join a club competing at the highest level, playing in the Champions League.
Young’s imminent arrival at United will put pressure on Nani and Antonio Valencia.
The England man is able to operate on either flank, while his versatility in also being able to play through the middle adds an extra dimension to his value.