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Manchester United’s defence needs strengthening this summer; Kalidou Koulibaly linked to the club again

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot of work to do in order to help rebuild the club after six years failing to regain the Premier League title. It is not only that, the club has been in and out of the UEFA Champions League and could well miss out again this season, although they have won the EFL Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Europa League.

United’s defence, despite what some may think, is not up to the job. Last summer, Jose Mourinho was after signing an experienced elite central defender, despite spending around £60 million on Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof over the previous two summer transfer windows. Speculation was rife but nothing materialised other than the club not backing him.

This season, the defence has been leaking goals throughout, not keeping a clean sheet once in any of the last seven matches, losing three times in the process, twice against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been given new long-term contracts at the Old Trafford club and Ashley Young committed to another year.

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Some suggest the defence is better than it was but against Wolves on Tuesday evening, it seemed it was a long way from being anything other than poor. Individual mistakes cost United the game but the thing that rings true is the fact that Smalling, Jones and Young are no longer good enough to be anything other than squad players.

Eric Bailly has been in and out of the team of late due to injury and poor form and has not really looked like the player he did during his first season at the club. There are many problems for United to deal with this summer but it is probably going to end up with the club not addressing the glaring problems after another summer of promise.

Many players have been linked to United recently and will continue to be linked. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is one player that seems to be a mainstay in the transfer gossip and now there are suggestions that the player has split with his agent, Bruno Satin and is now being represented by his brother.

This has all come amid talk of the Senegal international leaving the Italian club this summer, which may or may not happen. The split reportedly happened last year. Although Koulibaly is contracted at Napoli until the summer of 2023, it is suggested that an offer in the region of £100 million would secure the transfer of the 27-year-old.

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That is a lot of money for a player who will turn 28 before the new season starts but United have few options to secure a fading defence ahead of the new season. Mourinho had a plan to strengthen by the clubs executive vice-chairman suggest that the targets were no better than the players the club already had; Smalling and Jones included, preposterously.

Solskjaer will obviously be reliant on the funds he is given during the summer transfer window as the defence is not the only area of the squad that requires urgent attention. United have been linked with Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, who was targeted by Sir Alex Ferguson but the club would need to meet his release clause; £429 million.

Whatever happens this summer, it is certain to be a roller coaster ride of a summer with speculation becoming rife of late. There will be hundreds of players linked with United, especially after they lost to Wolves and now face a daunting visit of Barcelona in the Champions League a week today. It will have the rumour mill churning like never before.

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