Replacing the irreplaceable

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Manchester Online has done a neat little roundup of those players who could be given the unfortunate task of replacing Roy Keane at Old Trafford. Many have tried, and failed, in the past with the likes of Eric Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson, and even Alan Smith struggling to fill the Manchester United legend’s boots.

The pick of the lot is obviously Michael Ballack, who United are supposedly preparing to make the highest paid player in the Premiership and – should rumors be believed – club captain in order to lure the German international away from Bayern Munich. The club is already arranging for Ballack to spend a day in Manchester to allow Ferguson to lay on the Scottish charm in droves. However, while he could replace Keane as a world-class midfielder, their playstyles are not that similar with Ballack really more of an attacking force ala Paul Scholes.

Since the German will be available on a free in the summer, the world’s top clubs are coming out with mega contract offers since there will be no transfer fee. With Real Madrid still feeling somewhat lopsided in midfield, it’s not unlikely that the Spanish club steps in at the last minute to ruin things.

From the rest of the bunch, our favorite is Ivorian Didier Zokora and is actually more in the mold of Roy Keane. The St. Etienne midfielder has more bite in his tackle than Ballack and, while he lacks the attacking prowess and goal-threat of the German, is extremely comfortable on the ball and likes to drive play forward from midfield.