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Manchester United linked to Napoli defender – how rumours spread without any fact-finding…

Manchester United have today been linked to a new player. Faouzi Ghoulam, an Algerian left-back who currently plays for Napoli, the Serie A leaders in Italy. Napoli are said to be signing Alex Grimaldo in a £27 million switch from Benfica, a player who United had been credited an interest with, which apparently leaves Ghoulam free to leave the Stadio San Paolo. There are a few problems with the article The Sun have published which misses a key fact on Ghoulam which would suggest the reports of United and Jose Mourinho swooping in for the player would be unlikely.

Ghoulam is currently injured after he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in the UEFA Champions League match against Manchester City in Naples where the Italian club lost 4-2. The Algerian-born left-back was replaced in the 30th minute of the match and has not played a part in any matches for his club since. Transfermarkt state on the player’s profile page that he is expected to be on the sidelines until the 30th April 2018, which would suggest he will not be a player looking to make a move from Italy to England this month.

Facts seem to be absent from this article, which instead is aiming to make people believe there is something to see here because Napoli seems to be bringing in a new left-back. It left me wondering why a player who literally signed a new five-year contract on the 5th December 2017, which is also stated on the players Transfermarkt profile. Napoli sold Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus for £75.3 million in the summer of 2016, the same summer Paul Pogba made the move from Juventus, so that said, there is a chance they could try and sell Ghoulam, who has a £54 million release clause.

Missing these facts from an article will probably not be something to embarrass The Sun or the writer of the article but it should suggest that rumours from the same source should be scrutinised for facts, as it is clear something has been left out here to make this transfer sound plausible. Manchester United may or may not be looking for cover at left-back. Luke Shaw has played in the position for the last few matches, playing well, at times, and has started to show the form which attracted United to make a move for the player whilst he was at Southampton.

That said, it does not mean that United will be looking to sign Ghoulam, who has had the attention of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool – all three clubs putting a possible pursuit on hold because of the player’s injury, if they were going to move for the player at all. In the run-up to and during the transfer window, there are many spurious claims made, the majority of which seem to suggest that the Old Trafford club are in pursuit for a certain player, the player then remaining at his club or moving elsewhere, which then breeds another story suggesting how United missed out.

Granted, United may have looked at Ghoulam earlier in the season, or during the 2016/17 season, which could suggest he is a player the club may retain an interest in. The injury is a big cause for concern though. United lost the services of both Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to knee injuries last season, the pair missing around seven months of football, which could be the same time period Ghoulam misses. When fit, there is no guarantee that the player will return to the form which saw United and other clubs show their interest in the player.

Ghoulam does seem to be the type of player that could succeed at United though as he seems to play some good football. In the eleven Serie A matches the player played this season, he scored two goals, maintained a passing average of 89%, a shot accuracy of 71%, which for a defensive minded player is pretty good, creating 26 chances for his teammates and averaging at least three defensive actions per match. Ghoulam received one yellow card in those eleven matches. Perhaps he could be a player to look out for, when fit, but with Shaw slowly coming good, it may not happen.

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