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Five key players

Updated: 2013-04-24 05:34
( China Daily)

AFP selects five players who played pivotal roles in United's 13th Premier League title.

DAVID DE GEA (ESP; goalkeeper)

Five key players

After a difficult debut season at Old Trafford, De Gea has established himself as United's first-choice goalkeeper. The 22-year-old Spaniard has made occasional high-profile mistakes, notably in the 3-2 win at home to Fulham in August and the 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in January, but he has also produced some outstanding performances. United manager Alex Ferguson praised him after the recent 2-2 draw at West Ham United, saying he had developed into "a really first-class goalkeeper".

RAFAEL DA SILVA (BRA; rightback)

Five key players

Having inherited Gary Neville's No 2 shirt in preseason, Rafael has demonstrated that he is capable of becoming the long-term successor to the former England fullback on the right flank of the United defense. A doggedly tenacious defender, the Brazilian scored a fine goal in a 2-1 win at Liverpool in September and produced a goal-of-the-season contender with a 25-yard thunderbolt in a 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers in February.

MICHAEL CARRICK (ENG; central midfielder)

Five key players

Often overlooked by fans and pundits, Carrick has enjoyed his most accomplished season in a red shirt since his 2006 transfer from Tottenham. The 31-year-old has proved an unflappable presence in front of the United defense and his composed displays have enabled him to force his way into Roy Hodgson's England team. Described as "a Rolls Royce of a player" by no less a judge than his feted United colleague Paul Scholes, Carrick was also nominated for the prestigious Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year award.


A 24 million pound ($37 million) capture from Arsenal last year, Van Persie took to life at United like a duck to water. After scoring within 10 minutes of his home debut against Fulham in August, he claimed a hat-trick at Southampton and went on to net crucial winners against Liverpool and Manchester City. The goals dried up in the spring, when he went 10 games without scoring, but strikes against Stoke City and West Ham, followed by a hat-trick against Villa, took his tally of league goals to 24.


Five key players

Welbeck may have only scored once in the league this season, but his industriousness and versatility have made him a key element in the squad. He created a sensation in March when he was preferred to Wayne Rooney in the starting lineup for the Champions League home game with Real Madrid, sparking speculation about Rooney's future at Old Trafford. Quick, hard-working and blessed with a marvelous deftness of touch, the 22-year-old has been shortlisted for the PFA Players' Young Player of the Year award.

(China Daily 04/24/2013 page24)

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