At just £25 million, here’s why Toby Alderweireld should be a signing Manchester United should consider this summer

Manchester United’s bid to find a central defender who could add some steel to the defence this summer seems to be failing. The Old Trafford club has targeted Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and Harry Maguire of Leicester City have been the players hotly linked to the club this summer but so far, nothing seems close to happening.

Koulibaly is not likely to leave Napoli this summer, being that the club has brought in Kostas Manolas, a world class defender to strengthen their defence. United’s pursuit of Maguire seems to have gone south after that £70 million bid, which was rejected, with the club now seeking £80 million or more. Last summer, Maguire could have been United’s.

There is one option sitting there in plain sight, a cheap option, which may not be one for the future, more for now. £25 million would secure that transfer but there are some conditions. Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham Hotspur. He’s 30 but a Premier League proven player. A player of many standards. A player that would strengthen United’s ailing defence.

It has been stated by Kristof Terreur, a journalist for Het Laatste Nieuws, that Alderweireld has that £25 million release clause in his contract this summer but it will expire 14 days before the closure of the Premier League transfer window, meaning United, or whoever, have just under a fortnight to get something sorted.

There is even footwork for a deal to be struck. Yes, £25 million will need to be paid but Terreur states that it is a figure that could be paid in instalments, even over a two-year period – no longer. Surely that would suggest that it is something United should at least be looking into. Alderweireld was a player wanted by Jose Mourinho and the club last summer and even many journalists thought i was happening.

Last season, in the Premier League alone, United conceded a total of 54 goals. It was their worst season, at least defensively, in the top-flight since the 1978/79 season. That is another record that has been broken post-Sir Alex Ferguson that the club should not be proud of. The thing is that United cannot head into another season with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof as the main defenders.

Last season, Lindelof was the best defender at the club, making a massive difference from his debut season, where he seemed out of place. Bailly has regressed considerably and suffers many injuries and is rash on the ball. Jones and Smalling have not really kicked on in the last six years and them getting new contracts was worrying. Rojo just does not fit into the club at this moment in time.

United have some youth players they could turn to, in order to strengthen the defence. Axel Tuanzebe had a good season on loan at Aston Villa, which could see him in with a chance and Tim Fosu-Mensah can play as a central defender, even in the defensive midfield. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has options but he needs a leader in the team. Right now, that is something not present and someone will need to stand up and be counted, being there 100% of the time to lead, not hide.

Spurs seem to have offered Alderweireld to Roma as part of a deal to sign Nicolo Zaniolo, so it suggests they do not necessarily want him to continue at the club this coming season. He is out of contract in a year, so Spurs could make money on him this summer only. The player also seems content right now, getting stuck into pre-season training, getting ready for the upcoming season, which could see him remain at Spurs or elsewhere.

During his career, in which the 30-year-old has played for Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Southampton and Spurs, he’s played a total of 395 matches, scored 24 goals, assisted 15 goals, playing 33,910 minutes of football. Over the last few seasons, he’s suffered two major injuries; a knee injury in the 2016/17 season, in which he missed nine matches and a hamstring injury in the 2017/18 season, in which he missed 29 matches.

That could be a worry with Alderweireld or any other player. Solskjaer might have plans to do things another way, looking for talented youth and building a team, which may take a few years but would get better results and show the players the way this club works, which has not been very prevalent over the past six years with United spending more than £700 million under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

Many of the players not working out, some still at the club today. There are no guarantees that United are in fact interested in Alderweireld but with the figure quoted for Maguire and the fact they have little chance signing Koulibaly, he is certainly an option but just not one for the future. At 30, he might have two to three years left at the top level of football, maybe longer.

It would be a gamble, but a relatively cheap gamble, considering more has been lost by the club buying and selling Angel Di Maria, loaning Radamel Falcao and buying Bastian Schweinsteiger, on signing the German, Ed Woodward actually said: “When people see Schweinsteiger on the team sheet, that’s gonna send some shivers down the spine.” It makes you wonder what goes through Woodward’s mind – no knowledge of football, anyway.

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copyright: JW

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