How will Manchester United’s defence look next season?
Erik ten Hag has a lot of work to do to iron out some of the bad habits we have repeatedly witnessed as fans from this squad of Manchester United players in recent years. However, with some new additions in defence, we can only hope that we see a big improvement defensively. It would be the icing on the cake if the new manager could get the best out of players who underperformed in the past, too.
In a transfer that dragged on this summer, Manchester United are sorting the final paperwork before officially announcing the transfer of Lisandro Martinez from Ajax. The 24-year-old Argentine centre-back had been in Ten Hag’s sights since he became United manager.
After winning Ajax’s Player of the Year award, in a campaign that saw them win their third Eredivisie title under Ten Hag, Martinez looks set to be a regular feature in United’s defence for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the signing of Martinez, United added another Eredivisie player to the defence in left-back Tyrell Malacia. Going the other way, we suspect that Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will leave Old Trafford before deadline day.
An additional move could continue to reshuffle United’s defensive ranks: reports have suggestion at various times that Ten Hag would link to strengthen at right-back, after doing so already on the opposing flank.
We look at each position across the defence.
- Luke Shaw (27): Shaw is – when at his best – one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. While he hasn’t done anything to impress Ten Hag on tour and had a poor campaign last season, I still think he will heavily feature this season. It will be intriguing to see how he deals with fresh competition in the squad.
- Tyrell Malacia (22): Known as The Pitbull during his time at Feyenoord, we’ve got a so-called modern full-back in Malacia, who can defend as well as contribute in the final third. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put Shaw under pressure.
- Alex Telles (29): Don’t know why he’s on pre-season tour instead of Teden Mengi. I was sure he’d be one of the first players to be sold this summer. The Brazilian didn’t take his chances last season and doesn’t offer enough competition for Shaw.
- Brandon Williams (21): I’m sure he wants more first team minutes after getting a good run in the Norwich City side last season, but they are unlikely to come at United. Williams didn’t go on pre-season tour because of an injury.
- Harry Maguire (29): Say what you like about Maguire, Ten Hag is giving most of the squad a clean slate and I think he deserves that. His ability to play out from the back makes me think he will be a key figure in the defence this season, but there will be questions about his lack of pace when playing such a high defensive line.
- Raphael Varane (29): Last summer’s signing impressed at times, but his fitness record is a real concern as we approach the new season. Hopefully he stays injury free and we can finally see Varane at his best in a United shirt.
- Lisandro Martinez (24): I watched him against Benfica and Borussia Dortmund last season, and he went toe-to-toe with Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez. I like that we have a new terrier on our hands, plus he’s technically superb for a centre-back. I reckon he will be a starting presence in the team alongside Maguire.
- Victor Lindelof (28): I still think Lindelof will get game time this season, although the majority of those could be limited to the domestic cup competitions and the Europa League. Good squad player.
- Eric Bailly (28): United need to become ruthless. Time to get rid.
- Phil Jones (30): Same applies. ^^
- Axel Tuanzebe (24): I felt he was unlucky on loan at Aston Villa last season. That said, it was arguably worse for him at Napoli. I think he should be looking for a permanent move this summer for the sake of his playing career.
- Diogo Dalot (23): As of now, Dalot is probably Ten Hag’s first choice and I’m not surprised due to Wan-Bissaka’s limitations as a right-back. Dalot has his faults and I think we should be looking to upgrade this position.
- Aaron Wan-Bissaka (24): Like I said, he’s very limited, especially as our full-backs are being asked to push into new areas and deliver crosses into the box. Hopefully a decent offer comes in for him before deadline day.
- Brandon Williams (21): If he remains at United next season, Williams could get minutes on either flank. He played at right-back before and every squad needs depth.
- Ethan Laird (20): I’d be waxing lyrical about Laird had he impressed at Bournemouth, where he hardly got a look in. He could go out on loan again.
Let us know in the comments how you think United will line-up in defence next season?