Freelance Serie A writer Chloe Beresford speaks to Stretty News following endless speculation linking Serie A defenders with transfers to Manchester United.
Beresford, who writes for a number of media outlets as well as featuring on BBC 5 Live Sport, knows her stuff when it comes to Italian football. She has answered a number of questions on Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar, Kostas Manolas and more.
According to Beresford, Koulibaly’s experience is the difference between the Senegal international and Inter Milan’s Skriniar. She praises Nikola Milenkovic of Fiorentina for growing as a player and the leadership qualities of AS Roma defender Kostas Manolas.
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She also claims Lazio midfielder Sergej Milenkovic-Savic has not met expectations since being touted around Europa last summer, with suggestions he would make a mega-money move after the World Cup which never quite materialised…
Here’s our Q&A with Chloe Beresford:
– Koulibaly looks like the defensive signing United need to make. How far is he off being the best centre-back in world football and does he warrant breaking the record for most expensive CB signing after Virgil Van Dijk’s £75m to Liverpool?
I would say he’s right up there with the best at the moment. His performances for Napoli suggest he is worth a large fee, and the club will certainly insist on it if they are to let him move away.
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– Whenever I’ve watched Skriniar he stood out as an aggressive force at the back. If I’m being honest, he has always impressed me more than Koulibaly but others say different. Who has performed better this season?
I would say that Koulibaly has the advantage of experience, whereas Skriniar is a little bit behind him in that regard. What I would say is that Skriniar has the potential to become better than Koulibaly in the future, but that all depends on what happens next with their respective careers.
– United were constantly linked with Lazio’s Sergej Milenkovic-Savic during the summer. Has he met expectations since then?
His performances have dropped significantly in the first period of this season, perhaps due to the rigours of the previous long season with Lazio and then the World Cup with Serbia, or maybe it has been down to the persistent speculation regarding his future. He has just recently begun to return to form, but underneath that is a supremely talented player. United probably don’t need him as he is similar to Paul Pogba, but he certainly won’t stay at Lazio in the long-term.
– Do you feel Inter’s quest to sign Diego Godin suggests a plan to replace Skriniar?
It could be – Skriniar has been offered a one-year extension to his contract at Inter which he hasn’t agreed to sign as yet. However, sporting director Beppe Marotta has just arrived at Inter after several very successful years with Juventus and it’s hard to tell what his plan is until he gets started properly.
– Matteo Darmian. How is our terrible sideburn growing friend viewed in Italy?
I think Darmian would be welcomed back to Italy. He’s one of those players that became a victim of an over-inflated reputation and earned a big move when actually he wasn’t quite up to it. I’m sure that he could do a job for many of the middle to top level sides in Serie A.
– Is Nikola Milenkovic all that?
Yes. He arrived at Fiorentina looking nervous and was put into the first team much earlier than planned after the death of Davide Astori. However, he put aside any early nerves from that point onwards, earning a call-up to Serbia for the WC in part thanks to an injury to Matija Nastasic. His performances were strong and assured, and this season at Fiorentina he looks a million miles away from the player that arrived during the summer before last.
– Kostas Manolas is another centre-back in Serie A, being linked with a move from Roma to United. United need a reliable centre-back with leadership qualities. Does the Greek fit the bill?
Leadership is probably the key word here, as Manolas is superb for Roma in this way. Perhaps he is a little bit behind Koulibaly and Skriniar in this regard but he certainly makes up for it in his character.
– What’s the perception of English football in Serie A and will the Aaron Ramsey to Juventus deal be a game changer?
I think Italians see the Premier League as much more glamourous and well-run than their own league, although tactically still behind Serie A. Juve have had quite a few players from the UK & Ireland in the past (Ian Rush, David Platt, Liam Brady, John Charles etc) but I think his arrival will definitely bring something different and increase the spotlight on Italy from abroad a little bit.
– And finally, tell us what we should expect if Allegri becomes United manager?
Allegri is a smart and tactically astute boss with strengths in almost every area. He is sometimes guilty of being a little overcautious but otherwise any PL team should welcome a man who has won four consecutive league-and-cup doubles as well as reaching two Champions League finals in that period.
A big thank you to Chloe for answering our questions. It’s now over to Ed Woodward and the board to sign the right defender.