There are so many positive signs at Man United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to form a decent team, but the defence has been an issue for a while.
When you look at the whole unit then David de Gea is a world class keeper when he plays well, Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks like a great prospect and Luke Shaw or Brandon Williams looks solid enough on the left hand side.
It’s really the centre that’s been an issue with nobody showing they can be an effective partner for Harry Maguire. The former Leicester man lacks pace so needs someone quick alongside him, but the current options all have major flaws.
Victor Lindelof looks capable but lacks the true aggression or presence to make a difference in the Premier League, Eric Bailly certainly has the pace but he’s far too rash, Marcos Rojo isn’t dominant enough to play at centre back or technical enough to play as a full back and Phil Jones is just not good enough.
That suggests a new centre back should be the main priority in the Summer, so here’s a look at five potential signings for United:
Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli
The Napoli centre-back has been heavily linked with United in the past and looks like a perfect option. He’s aggressive and fast, but he’s actually good in a technical sense so would also be able to bring the ball out from the back. He’s established himself as one of the best defenders in Europe in recent years and this seems like the perfect time for him to leave Italy, although he would probably cost around £80m. The Senegalese star is also good for a few goals a season, so the prospect of him and Maguire from corners would be frightening in both boxes.
Samuel Umtiti – Barcelona
The Frenchman is out of favour at Barca so this seems like a good time to move, plus his left-footedness would allow Maguire to play on the right and bring some balance to the back line. He’s quick, good with the ball at his feet and has an aggression that should allow him to compete in the Premier League, but his versatility could be useful too. He can play at left back if needed, plus Solskjaer has deployed a three man defence at times and he has the quality to step forward and give the opposition something else to think about from that formation too.
Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus
This could be the hardest one on the list to manage, but circumstances could play into United’s favour here. De Ligt looked like the next great centre back during his spell at Ajax, but things haven’t gone well in Italy. He’s looked exposed at times and it’s like he’s trying too hard to impress – and that just leads to further mistakes. He had a chance with Giorgio Chiellini’s bad injury earlier in the season, but play being suspended might allow the veteran to return this season and take his place back. De Ligt also seems ready made for Barcelona but they have a lot of holes to fill, so United could take advantage and swoop this Summer if he decides to move.
Ruben Dias – Benfica
The young Portuguese defender looks ready to make the next step, and United could even find a way to send Lindelof back to Benfica to sweeten the deal too. He’s an all round defender who can play from the back too, although he might not have the blistering pace that would be needed to sweep in behind Maguire. Benfica players tend to have buy out clauses although it’s not clear what his would be. He’s only 22 but he’s already a regular for club and country, plus Benfica are a selling club so this could make a lot of sense.
Dayot Upamecano – RB Leipzig
The Frenchman has been heavily linked with Arsenal but nothing has been agreed yet, and he looks perfect for the Premier League. He’s tall, quick, physical, solid defensively and good on the ball, so he is exactly what Maguire needs in a defensive partner. It sounds like he has a release clause of around £40m, so that’s actually a bargain for a 21 year old in the current transfer market. The German side are also a selling club so it’s easy to see them being open to negotiations, while he would also provide a long term answer at the position.