Renowned for keeping an eye on the major European leagues, Manchester United had scouts present in Italy over the past month. On their radar are some defenders, observed to find the heir of Nemanja Vidic, who chose Inter Milan by recently signing a contract until 2016 with an option to renew a further year.
On Saturday, March 1, United scouts were in the stands at the Olympic Stadium, in Rome, for AS Roma vs Inter. Their targets? Mehdi Benatia and Alessio Romagnoli.
This season, Benatia has been one of the best defenders in the Serie A. He is the defensive leader of AS Roma, who obviously do not want to sell Mehdi on next summer, having just bought him a year ago from Udinese. United scouts watched him very closely throughout the game and he put in a strong performance. They have rated Benatia as a strong defender with a great personality. It remains to be seen whether Benatia would be a suited addition to reshape United's defense after the Ferdinand-Vidic era, but AS Roma will do all they can to keep him.
Alessio Romagnoli is a young player, born in 1995 and considered by many years as an absolute talent. In Rudi Garcia's idea of football he can play not just as a center back, but as a left back too. In this position, Romagnoli is finding plenty of space and showing his value, despite being very young. Against Inter, he impressed scouts of United, playing superbly against Brazilian winger Jonathan. If United do try to get him, they will have to negotiate with a reluctant AS Roma side who obviously don't want to lose their jewel (he grew up in the club) and will soon try offer him a new contract.
Manchester United are considering Benatia and Romagnoli and will continue to observe them both. More than Angelo Ogbonna of Juventus, who was followed the next day, Sunday, March 2, at the San Siro against AC Milan. Ogbonna has struggled this season under Antonio Conte and has not convinced the scouts of United.
The Italian job has only just begun.
By Fabrizio Romano (@FabRomano21)