Manchester United will look to keep the pressure on the Premier League’s top four with victory over West Brom on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s men are in fifth and just four points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in fourth, and with two games in hand on the Reds, the Manchester side will be confident of breaking into the Champions League qualification places come May.
And even if they don’t, they could still qualify for Europe’s elite competition by winning the Europa League this season, in which they are currently in the last eight and face a trip to Anderlecht next week looking to progress to the semi-finals.
Although the Red Devils still have much to play for between now and May, that hasn’t stopped speculation mounting about who Mourinho may look to sign in the summer in a bid to pose a genuine Premier League title challenge next term.
And one man they’ve been linked to in the last few days is Tottenham and England midfielder Eric Dier, who played the full 90 minutes in both of the Three Lions’ games over the international break.
The 23-year-old was used in the central midfield role by manager Gareth Southgate, despite playing in a back three for Spurs for most of this campaign, and it is his ability in that central position which makes him absolutely perfect for Manchester United.
And that’s because the Red Devils are still searching for a long-term successor to the hugely integral and influential Michael Carrick.
The former Spurs midfielder turns 36 in July but is still as important to United now as he was when he joined the club back in 2006, although he has yet to extend his contract at Old Trafford, which is due to end in the summer.
It’s not unusual for Carrick to leave it late, he waited until after their FA Cup final triumph last season to sign a new deal, yet the uncertainty surrounding his future makes it even more imperative that Mourinho has a replacement lined up, as even if Carrick doesn’t retire this year, it’s not going to be long before he does.
And that’s where a move for Dier makes complete sense.
The 23-year-old isn’t playing in the centre of Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield regularly this season (of his 37 appearances in all competitions, only nine have come in the middle) due to the form of Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele, and if he is to maintain his position in the England side, he needs to be playing there.
Carrick’s departure, should it happen, would leave a huge hole in the United midfield, and when you consider Dier’s strength and reading of the game for a 23-year-old, he has all the qualities to become the long-term midfielder the Red Devils are crying out for – he’d be in his element.
And they wouldn’t be splashing out £40 million on a complete unknown either.
Dier has already racked up 171 club appearances in his career, 91 of which have come in the Premier League, and with 17 caps for England, four of which coming during their ill-fated Euro 2016 campaign, he has already played in some big matches, big occasions, and big moments.
Add in his versatility to play as an accomplished centre-back, and Dier would be perfect for United, so if he cannot get assurances over his central midfield future at Spurs, it’s certainly a move he and the club should entertain this summer.