Whilst the reserves and youth teams are packed with talent, it is thought that Sir Alex is looking for a player that would not need as much time to make the step up so I propose he looks no further than Standard de Liege’s Steven Defour.
Defour made his professional debut for RC Genk at the age of 17 and even at such a tender age it did not take long for Liege to snap him up after just 2 years. He would become the Belgian league’s MVP in 2007 and help Standard to their first domestic title in 25 years in 2008 as well as help them retain their crown in 2009.
Made captain at just 19 years old, last Defour has attracted attention from a host of clubs. Liverpool earmarked him as the replacement for Xabi Alonso last summer, whilst Everton had a £9m bid rejected.
Dubbed the ‘Belgian Fabregas’ by some media outlets, he has not escaped Sir Alex’s radar and last year he made the headlines when a letter Sir Alex had sent him wishing him well in his recovery from a broken bone in his foot was made public.
Defour has a good engine, meaning his work rate is always high and is very mobile. He is technically sound and like Scholes has an eye for a pass and the ability to execute it. He is a leader, having been made Liege’s captain at just 19 as well as having big game experience having played against Liverpool in the Champions League as well as a host of other top teams.
In his prime Paul Scholes provided a goal threat with his late runs into the box as well as his long range shooting and it is this (his shooting) that he will need to work on if he is to also provide the goal threat that Scholes posed.
Sir Alex himself said in the letter,
“I’m going to follow your progress closely and I will remain in contact”
and Defour would also be open to a move stating,
“I think the attention is great, but I do not want people think I am already at Manchester, which is no means the case.
“But if they come knocking, then I would obviously not cause problems.”
So if Sir Alex does decide to dip into the war chest to beef up the midfield expect to hear more of Defour this summer.