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Manchester United needs a leader at the back but there is not a leader in the squad

When you look at the current Manchester United squad it lacks leaders. Yes, Paul Pogba showed his leadership qualities for France in the FIFA World Cup last summer but he has not really shown the same qualities or even performance levels for United. At the back, United is lacking a leader.

Chris Smalling is the longest-serving player currently being selected by the manager, Antonio Valencia, however, has been at the club the longest. United also has Phil Jones and Ashley Young who have been at the club since 2011, one of them might wear the captain’s armband on occasion but they are not a leader, neither is Smalling.

United has failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last ten matches, keeping their last in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford on the 24 February. The defence has been unusually sloppy of late, as has the goalkeeping, which is starting to become a worry. Last summer, Jose Mourinho wanted a commanding central defender with United linked to Toby Alderweireld, Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Škriniar and other players.

However, it was felt by Ed Woodward that the players Mourinho wanted were no better than the players United already had, which included Smalling and Jones but also included the likes of Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof. The Swedish international has earned his place in the squad this season, usually paired with Smalling but a leader at the back would help him and the team develop a lot more.

Currently, United has still be linked to Koulibaly, who will be a very expensive addition this summer. However, a player they were linked to last summer could well be available again, at a cut-price fee. Alderweireld had his Tottenham Hotspur contract extended for another year back in December, which saw his release clause come into effect, meaning a £25 million offer will see the player on his way from North London.

United have another option in Roma defender Kostas Manolas, who could cost £31 million, a fee similar to what Mourinho paid for Bailly and Lindelof. Both of these players have experience and could add something to this United defence, which has been very poor of late, especially against the might of Barcelona on Tuesday evening.

It could see the likes of Rojo and even Bailly leave the club this summer but that would possibly see the likes of Axel Tuanzebe given a chance at the club, after a positive season on loan with Aston Villa, who are currently fifth in the Championship and in with a good chance of making the play-offs this season.

United though, need to find leaders in this team and fast. Think of the likes of Jaap Stam, Steve Bruce, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Pallister, Gary Neville, they were all leaders at the back. Add to that those who played further ahead of them, the likes of Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, even Robin van Persie. United lacks players of the ilk to lead.

Whilst there are players in the squad who could lead, they do not seem to be coming forward. Whether it is a confidence issue, an issue caused by the fact certain players have not been at the club as long as others, I do not know. But players, sooner or later, will need to stand up and be counted. It is all well and good having a captain but if that player is not leading, who is? Nobody at this moment in time.

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