Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Monaco defender Fabinho, in hopes to strengthen the defence ahead of the new season. According to The Sun, Jorge Mendes’ attempts to get his client to Old Trafford and link with Jose Mourinho have succeeded, with a reported transfer fee of £22 million apparently being agreed by both clubs.
The move for Fabinho comes after Jose Mourinho’s comments about preferring players who are specific to a certain position, and Fabinho certainly covers that bracket. Fortunately, the move for Fabinho means a lot more than just a move for another player who might sell a couple of jerseys. Mourinho has already signed Eric Bailly to strengthen the defence and has spent no time going for his targeted players, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This also shows how no player is safe at Manchester United, even someone like Matteo Darmian who moved to United last year. Darmian experienced a tough end to his debut season at Manchester United, failing to replicate the form he displayed in the first half of the season. Antonio Valencia is also in danger of being replaced, as even though he played a relatively large part of last season, his performances might be seen as not good enough by the new staff.
In Jose Mourinho’s first press conference, he stated:
“I am more a manager that likes specialists and not so much the multi-functional players because I am very clear in my approach. Multi-functional players are like one or two, when you are in trouble you need someone who can fill but basically I want specialists.”
Personally, I believe that Mourinho’s move for Fabinho shows how he knows exactly where Manchester United are lacking quality, and how development is needed in order to reach new standards. Adding Fabinho to the defence will help United’s squad depth as the club look to get back in the Champions League, and to strive for the Premier League title once again. Taking a glance at Manchester United’s squad, it is easy to notice how there is a lack of defensive options, compared to the midfield and attack. There are a number of players who can contribute, being from the youth academy or flexible players who can play in defensive roles, such as Ashley Young, but Mourinho’s recent comments about being specific to positions suggests that he doesn’t want to use the likes of Young in the defence as Louis van Gaal once did, and he might want to give the youth time a break, and bring them in once the defense is solid.
Looking precisely at who are the main contenders for a starting spot in the defence, we see how there is a lack of quality in the right back position. In the left back position, Luke Shaw and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are the two main options. Due to Shaw’s injury last season, Borthwick-Jackson was brought in from the youth team, and due to his performances, he is likely to return to the main team and be in contention for the starting spot. For the centre-back role, last season we saw Chris Smalling and Daley Blind form a strong partnership. Suggesting that Blind continues playing in defense, the other three players likely to be in contention for a starting spot is either new signing Bailly, Marcos Rojo or Phil Jones. The latter, unfortunately, continued to have injury setbacks last season, stopping any momentum he had, but his talent and potential should be taken into consideration. When looking at the right back position, however, it is easy to see why the club is making a move for Fabinho. Apart from Darmian, the only other player with some experience is Antonio Valencia, who is not an original defender, with Guillermo Varela likely to be an emergency option.
Hopefully, this is yet another example of how Jose Mourinho doesn’t want to wait until the last moment to buy his targets, as since he has taken over he has been bold and brilliant in the transfer market.