If Manchester United get a chance to sign Kostas Manolas, they should never blow it away. It is as simple as that.
While the chatter on social media is diverse and full of vibrant variety, it misses the point that the Greek centre-back is better than any defender Manchester United currently have. The never-ending demand and yearning for Kalidou Koulibaly or Milan Skriniar has blinded many to the fact that there are many other very good central defenders in world football right now. That, at a point in the season where it is completely impossible get either of them.
It is crucial to note here that Manolas’ release clause of €36 million applies only in the summer, as per Sky Sports, not in the ongoing January transfer window. United will have to spend more than that amount to sign him this month. But getting someone like him for €36m is a bargain in every right of the word.
It is Koulibaly in particular though, is one of the best, Manolas is very close to the level that Skriniar is on now. He isn’t a ball-playing defender that Skriniar is or Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic is. But he is calm on the ball and never takes too many risks when he is on it. He won’t attempt to play a long-ball because he isn’t that sort of a defender. He knows what he is good at and sticks to that.
One thing about Manolas that stands out is that a striker will hate to come up against him in one-on-one situations. He is quick while tracking back and off the ground. His recovery pace is a very vital part of his armory- something to be scared of.
A very good header of the ball, Manolas is a very important presence for any side, be it in their own box or in the opposition’s box. His aerial presence can keep strikers at bay at will. And heading is one trait he thrives on. He has always come up with vital goals for Roma, all thanks to his excellent heading abilities.
Manolas defines how the Greek warriors of the eras gone by used to be. His cool and calm demeanour is sometimes overshadowed by the fire and passion that lies underneath him. It comes out in the vital moments. Whenever he heads into a challenge, Manolas’ desire and hunger just oozes. He commits himself completely and never backs away from a challenge- typifying the Greek warriors of the medieval times.
He may not be the perfect centre-back that Manchester United are in the hunt for, but for a club that has been riddled with the mediocrities of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, Manolas will certainly be a breath of fresh air. He strives to give his all in every game and wins hearts, tackles and headers. When he doesn’t do that, he puts up a proper fight.
Comparisons can be made with both Koulibaly and Skriniar, but it will be fair to say that Manolas has been one of the Serie A’s most consistent and one of the best centre-backs over the last three seasons. David Moyes wanted him at Everton when Manolas was at AEK Athens and he could’ve signed him for a just 1 million pounds. And he wanted him at United too, when the then 24-year-old was at Olympiacos.
He has grown in stature and quality after periods of three or four seasons. And wherever he has gone, he has been consistent and reliable. Not the most flashiest, but the most committed and no-nonsense. Every interview he gives shows how ambitious and confident he is. He will talk about ambition everytime he talks in long interviews.
Fans have judged Manolas from his perfomance against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League last season, but when Juan Jesus was having a horror show alongside him, not even Giorgio Chiellini will be spared in front of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
With Victor Lindelof having established himself as United’s undoubted first-choice, the Red Devils have struggled to find a reliable defensive partner for him. Phil Jones always seems to come up with one disappointing moment after other, with Eric Bailly being inconsistent and injured. Chris Smalling too is clearly not good enough to start for Man United on a regular basis.
And if there’s anyone Manolas would like to play this, it is Lindelof. The Swede will make up for Manolas’ inability to pass the ball as well as he himself can and will make the marauding runs forward whenever needed. Manolas will not have the extra burden of being a ball-playing defender at United. He will just have to be himself. The way he’s always been and play to his strengths.
Manolas may not be on the level of Koulibaly and Skriniar, but if a defender like him is available for 36 million euros, any club should not think twice. With Nicolo Schira claiming that talks for United are in talks to sign Manolas in the summer by triggering that 36 million euros release clause should be welcome news. He’s a quality defender, who United fans will love to have in the side. Not just United fans, but fans of every club will love to have Kostas Manolas in their side.
He might cost more than the release clause fee, if United want to sign him this month, but the understanding is that he will not be signed in January. He will be a summer signing, if he will sign. And if Manchester United fans love Ander Herrera, they will love Kostas Manolas too.