There are certainly more issues plaguing Manchester United than simply a lack of signings, but regardless, it seems that the United powers that be are determined to throw money at the squad’s problems in the hope that they evaporate. With a bid for Chelsea’s Juan Mata apparently accepted, United have also been linked with a centre back, specifically Bayern Munich’s Dante. Although still in negotiations over a contract with the Champions League winners, Dante and his agent have made it clear a move to United would appeal to the Brazilian, if a deal with Bayern cannot be agreed. However, with Dante now the wrong side of 30, likely to cost upwards of £15 million, and looking for “one last big contract”, a move for someone younger, and arguably just as talented, would surely be a better option.
Although Ferdinand and Vidic are ageing, both are still excellent defenders, and in Jones and Smalling, Manchester United have to excellent young prospects, one could argue that central defence is not an area in need of strengthening. However, if Moyes and the rest of the United management do feel the need to purchase a centre back in January, they should look no further than one of these three:
Dória: An elegant left footed defender, Dória has been a key figure in the Botafogo side that has been so impressive in the last two Série A seasons. At just 19 years of age, Dória possesses a maturity and footballing intelligence at odds with his youthful face and braces. Positionally excellent, like so many Brazilians, Dória is also very good technically and very good on the ball for a centre back. Having not long ago signed a contract intended to keep him at the Botafogo until 2017, Dória will not be available for as cheaply as he might have been in the summer. Even so, any bid in the region of £15 million is sure to be considered.
Having already made his international debut, Dória is still in competition for a World Cup place. The young Brazilian may decide that a move to Europe this close to the World Cup isn’t a risk worth taking, but then again, impressing at a club like Manchester United may well be the factor that sets Dória above his rivals in Scolari’s thinking. With Chelsea, Tottenham, Juventus and Barcelona all reportedly interested, it could be that the club who moves first could reap rewards. In possession of enormous potential, a January bid would not only allow the buying club acquire one of the world’s top young talents, but also save a lot of money, with Dória’s value certain to increase if he does make it to the World Cup.
Éder Álvarez Balanta: This young Colombian came out of nowhere in 2013, coming through the ranks at Argentine giants River Plate to become arguably the best defender in Argentina. Like Dória, Balanta is left footed, but whilst he lacks some of the Brazilian’s technical ability, he is still very comfortable playing out from the back. Balanta also boasts great strength, pace and balance; the 20 year old is far more physically developed than the younger Dória. Although yet to earn a senior cap, Balanta has been in the last two Colombian squads and looks certain to feature in the World Cup. Balanta is being hotly tipped to become one of the best in the world and with good reason, with a €15 million release clause currently in his contract, now would be a good time to sign the young Colombian before his price tag undergoes post – World Cup inflation. With Barcelona closely monitoring Balanta, any other interested clubs will need to beat the Catalans to the chase.
Dedé: A couple of seasons ago, Dedé’s name was on everyone’s list, with the Brazilian linked to numerous clubs in Europe. Powerful, intelligent, and technically brilliant, Dedé is the complete defender, earning him the nickname ‘Dedéckenbauer’. Having been a key part of Vasco’s best period in recent years, Dedé is considered a club legend. However, with the club suffering financial difficulty, Dedé made a move to Cruzeiro for £4.4 million. Since his move to Cruzeiro, Dedé has dropped off of European clubs’ radar, with rumours of transfers subsiding. However, this is not a reflection of his performances, with Dedé phenomenal in Cruzeiro’s surprise Serie A title last time out. Currently on the edge of the Brazil set-up, Dedé may well be receptive to a European move, and would certainly be a huge asset for any top club. With a current dispute on-going between Vasco, Cruzeiro and Dedé’s agent, a shrewd club may well be able to take advantage of this and pick the Brazilian up at a bargain price.