It is well documented, and a huge gripe for United fans, that they have not really had any centre-back come to the fore in light of stalwart defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand ending their Old Trafford careers.
Many have been tried — Smalling, Jones, Blind, Rojo, Evans, McNair, Bailly, Lindelof — and all have had their travails. While most of those still remain, it is an area that needs a general and a reassuring presence — and frankly has done for some time.
United have been linked with British, in the shape of the aforementioned Evans, reported by the Mirror, and Leicester’s ever improving defender Harry Maguire, as per the Daily Mail, but here are some more elite candidates who could, maybe should be targeted this summer:
The Belgian has been displaced by former Ajax defender, and hot prospect, Davinson Sanchez, who impressed against United in last season’s Europa League final. He looks to be the latest of high profile Spurs summer departures, following Kyle Walker’s move to the other side last summer, after being subject of a contract stand off, believe it or not, with Spurs’ tough negotiator Daniel Levy.
Alderweireld has had his fair share of injuries this season, but he is an established, composed centre-half well capable of calmly starting attacks from the back and his positional sense seldom puts him in trouble. Dealing with Levy is notoriously complex but not without eventual reward.
There is a clamour for the Frenchman’s services, another with his future in the balance over contractual issues. A comparably miserly release clause, in today’s market, of just over £50 million has alerted Europe’s big clubs, as reported on Give Me Sport. Now a fully established French international, could he be lining up in red behind compatriot Paul Pogba next season? He might not have good footballing reason to leave Barcelona, but a generous pay packet always gets the attention of agents and players alike.
How about Umtiti’s national partner, Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane? He has long been admired by United and was a favourite in Mourinho’s time at the Bernabeu. He has shone following Pepe’s departure, is one of the best ball-playing defenders and has pace in abundance. Would dealing with Los Blancos open the David De Gea can of worms again? Probably, which makes this move surely the least attainable.
Rowlesy’s pick: Alderweireld
You can imagine how drawn out and infuriating dealing with Levy could be, but Alderweireld appears destined to be heading out of the door at Spurs. Money will talk, it always does. If I was to be after a Spurs defender, it would be the classy Belgian, not Danny Rose.
An Alderweireld-Bailly axis would be brain and brawn combined. Sounds an awful lot like the Ferdinand-Vidic wall doesn’t it.
Who would you like to see at the heart of United’s defence next season? You know… besides the obvious Smalling and Jones…