Manchester United have enjoyed a strong end to the season, winning eight of their last eleven games, remaining undefeated along the way.
When you dig deeper into the numbers behind their recent run, the stat of nine clean sheets during this time certainly sticks out. From a defensive standpoint, the Red Devils has significantly improved this season, with only four other Premier League sides conceding less.
Harry Maguire is no doubt a testament to such success, with their £80m (fee via BBC) summer signing helping establish a bit of solidity and quality at the back. The Englishman was quickly handed the captaincy after a string of impressive performances, acting as the side’s main vocal figure.
Victor Lindelof also deserves some recognition for United’s resilience this season too, with the Swede solidifying his position in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI next to Maguire. The two defenders compliment each other well, with both players also opting to distribute the ball from deep.
Neither Maguire or Lindelof have faced much competition for their spots in Solskjaer’s side, but Eric Bailly has recently thrown his name in the mix. The Ivorian has impressed since returning from his serious knee injury, with United winning all five of the games he has featured in this season, without conceding a goal (via Transfermarkt).
Bailly’s career at Old Trafford has been plagued by injuries, but when fit, he has the potential to be a starting member of United’s team. His return from injury has bolstered Solskjaer’s options, with the manager being able to rotate for games across the league, FA Cup and Europa League.
With Axel Tuanzebe also waiting in the wings, the Red Devil’s squad depth at the back is looking very healthy, for the first time in quite a few years.
This does, therefore, leave question marks of whether the club should go and splash big money on a new defender. La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Daily Mail) have recently reported that United will try to sign Kalidou Koulibaly this summer, if Chris Smalling leaves on a permanent basis.
The report cites a £90m asking price from Napoli, quite the sum given the Red Devils’ recent investment in Maguire. Given their defensive record this season, one has to wonder whether Ed Woodward should look to spend that amount of money, but in a different area of the squad.