Manchester United have been linked with signing another centre-back to partner club captain, Harry Maguire since he made his British record transfer from Leicester City back in 2019.
Current first team partner options are believed to be inadequate should United’s impending title challenge, be that of a serious one.
Eric Bailly, 26, joined the Reds from Spanish side, Villarreal in 2016. Bailly was believed to be the ideal centre-back under then manager, Jose Mourinho. His strength and pace underpin his overall defensive game; two attributes often associated with Mourinho type footballers.
However, due to ongoing injuries, Bailly’s United career has failed to reach the heights it was tipped to four-years ago.
It was to be Bailly’s inability to see out more than 25 Premier League games a season that prompted Mourinho to delve into the defensive market once again. Mourinho opted to bring in current first choice centre back, Victor Lindelof, 25, from Portuguese outfit, Benfica.
Although Lindelof is generally well regarded, the overall consensus is that he lacks the recovery ability required to partner the no-nonsense style centre back that is Harry Maguire.
Maguire often uses his ability to read opposition attacks and seeks to stop them by way of breaking a regimented back line. On the rare occasions that Maguire is unsuccessful in his attempts, he requires a partner who can offer the intelligence and pace needed to recover the ball; something Lindelof is not always capable of.
It is this defensive dilemma which has spearheaded the speculation surrounding a possible new centre-back signing. However, with United desperately lacking a right-sided attacker, it is perhaps reasonable to suggest that a centre-back signing would be less of a priority and more of a luxury.
Given the financial implications the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing clubs all around the world, United, being no exception, will need to deploy a more shroud transfer policy in order to strengthen more than one area of the pitch.
Unless you have chosen to live under a rock during quarantine, you will be familiar with United’s links to both Dayot Upamecano, 21 and Kalidou Koulibaly, 28.
Widely regarded as two of European football’s best centre backs, Upamecano of RB Leipzeg and Koulibaly of Napoli are thought to be available this summer for around £40m and £50m respectively, according to TransferMarkt.
Although, those valuations are likely to be inflated due to the two selling clubs maximising their revenue due to commercially superior clubs being in the market for a new centre-back.
However, there is another centre back United may be tempted to cast an eye over, 6ft 3, Bayer Leverkusen centre back, Edmond Tapsoba.
Tapsoba, 21, has featured in nine Bundesliga matches for Bayer Leverkusen thus far, this season. The young Burkinabé defender has thoroughly impressed in his last four appearances in the Bundesliga since the German league resumed earlier this month.
Most impressively, the break-out defender has been able to seamlessly adapt his game to play on both the right and left side of a centre back pairing aswell as form part of a back three and a back four.
The 21-year old also boasts some very impressive stats, as per SofaScore, Tapsoba has an overall passing accuracy of 91% with an even higher accuracy coming in his own half (95%), suggesting he possess the ability to play out from the back; a vital string to any modern day centre back’s bow.
Tapsoba’s average of 2.1 successful tackles and 3.7 clearances per game have contributed to seeing him involved in two clean sheets for Bayer Leverkusen.
Most notably though, Tapsoba has yet to make a single error leading to either a goal, or even a shot on goal.
All areas of the young Bayer Leverkusen centre back’s game suggests he possess qualities of both current United centre backs, Bailly and Lindelof.
Tapsoba is young, tall, physically strong, quick, technical and intelligent. He also has the versatility in his defensive game to fit a variety of team shapes aswell as the ability to switch sides depending on his team’s requirements.
Valued at a very modest £16m, Tapsoba could well be the perfect fit for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his quest to build a title challenging side, starting at the back.
Bayern Leverkusen’s next league game is scheduled to take place on June 6 against title favourites, Bayern Munich with Tapsoba predicted to feature.
The United scouting network may well be keen to see how up and coming Tapsoba fares against one of Europe’s most devastating strike forces in the form of Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
The other Bayer Leverkusen player linked with United is Kai Havertz.